My son Dorian doesn’t stack blocks, build forts or play with Legos. He’s 11-months-old. But when I stack his colorful foam blocks into precariously lopsided towers he relishes knocking them down. He crawls over and collides into them with such gusto he falls flat on his stomach.
So when I took him to see the even more precariously stacked mountains of canned goods at CANstruction, my first thought was “Stand back, this baby is a wrecking ball!”
CANstruction returns for its 19th year at the Weston Art Gallery in the Aronoff Center for the Arts. Teams of designers and architects push the limits of creativity and engineering in a race to build monumental sculptures of canned and packaged foods. The exhibit concludes March 27, 2016, when the canned goods are donated to the Freestore Foodbank.
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The seemingly impossible structures appear to teeter on the edge of collapse. Indeed some past CANstructions took a spill, sending baked beans and creamed corn asunder. Children who like building blocks and have an inquiring mind that wants to know “How did they do that!?” will love CANnstruction. Much of the work is roped off, but you’ll want to be sure your kids don’t climb, crash into, or make a giant Jenga game of the artwork, however tempting.
I caught Dorian in an all-out sprint-crawl toward a sea of cans. He may be too young to know the gallery rules but he stared, awe-inspired, at an ice cream cone as big as a tree, a colossal turntable and a Goliath sized gnome. I squinted and backed-up, trying to decipher the big picture in a maze of food labels, but Dorian just took in the colors and shapes with fascination.
Older children will have fun guessing at less obvious structures. While the suspension bridge, Union Terminal and smiley faces of the “EmotiCANS” are easily identified, there are less conspicuous images. Up close it’s like a pixelated photograph or pointillist painting. From a distance the image is clearer. I wouldn’t normally encourage you to view an art exhibit with a smartphone in front of your face, but for CANstruction it’s a handy device. The image is magically revealed on the small screen. I had no idea I was standing in front of a giant Rosie the Riveter. The assemblage of Kroger cans obscured Rosie’s face and the familiar slogan “We Can Do It!” was barely legible until I saw it on my phone. This could be a fun game. Your kids can guess at the image hiding in the cans, then snap a picture to see who guessed right.
From left to right: “Bridging the Gap on Hunger” at the Aronoff Center for the Arts, “UNIted ON TERMINAting Local Hunger” at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and “EmotiCANS” at the Scripps Center. Images courtesy of the Cincinnati Canstruction Facebook Page.
For an interactive experience, the gallery offers “Families Create!” workshops. The theme is “Can-struct It!” Candy Land CANstruction. Children use candy, crackers and cookies to create an edible structure. Another way to view CANstruction at all of its downtown locations is to take your kids on a “Strut the Structures” guided trek. Click here for details on the workshop and guided treks.
Featured Image: “We CAN Do It” at the Weston Art Gallery. Image courtesy of Cincinnati Canstruction.
Selena Reder is a mother, writer and part-time video producer living in Cincinnati, Ohio with her son Dorian and husband Tim.Dorian loves chasing Selena and Tim’s tailless cat, making messes for dad to clean up, squealing loud enough for the neighbors to hear and staring at strangers until it’s uncomfortable. Tim loves Dungeons and Dragons, Margaret Atwood and writing meticulous grocery lists.Selena loves washing cloth diapers, binging on British TV (Top Gear, Only Fools and Horses, Doc Martin, etc) painting and knitting super fancy baby sweaters. She also loves working part-time with her video editor husband (special shout out to her parents and in-laws for being great babysitters!).