There’s something reassuring about a pencil. There’s something tranquil in a brush. A collage can be cathartic. Doodling focuses the mind. Children must know this. They smear paint on the floor and glitter bomb the cat. My son’s hands are perpetually covered in marker and my walls are decorated in scribbles. Creative expression is so automatic in children but then … we grow up. We get jobs, smartphones and this feeling that something is lost. Do you remember what it’s like to put pencil to paper and forget where you are? We all need an escape.
The Weston Art Gallery invites children and parents to get creative. At Families Create! Workshops, children ages 5-12 and their families learn art techniques and concepts. Tour the gallery and meet the exhibiting artists. Then put what you’ve learned into action making art to take home.
We attended in October for “Found Photos,” a workshop on photography re-imagined. On our gallery tour we discovered the work of Marlo Pascual. Her exhibit Three Works combines three-dimensional objects with vintage photographs to create a whole new media, the “photo-sculpture.” A ladder covers an image of a house plant, a sea shell lays over a photo of a woman and a slab of marble obscures a face. The four girls who made up our group were completely engaged. One girl asked why the ladder is upside down. Another remarked on how the ladder feels rustic while the photo of plant feels organic. I found the work vague and inexplicable. Complicated in its simplicity. The girls didn’t shy away from reading into the work, drawing out meaning and emotion.
Inspired by these photo-sculptures, we began our project at a work table covered in magazine photos. Teachers Laura and Tammy invited us to pick from the images and assemble our collages. There were sticks, pine cones and other found objects to add a sculptural element to our paper cut-outs. The girls snipped away on pictures of oceans, armadillos and ice cream cones. My son ran around the table uncapping markers and tipping over glue bottles. He wasn’t interested in scribbling but he didn’t seem to mind that I was engrossed in cutting paper.
Families Create! Workshops are a great way to share in the creative process with your children. The photo-sculptures each girl assembled were lovely. Some were meticulous and orderly, others completely wild! It was nice to be immersed in something purely aesthetic for a few hours. When I finished the collage my son signed it with colored pencil scribble in the corner. It’s my favorite part.
You won’t want to miss the 2016-17 season of Families Create! December 10th is “Terrific Terrariums,” where you’ll create a magical mind-garden. I’m feeling Zen already! Then, if your kids are glued to their cellphones and iPads, channel their love of tech with “2D 3D 4U: Digital Objects” on February 18th. April 8th brings the return of the popular “Candy Land! Canstruction Workshop.” Make art out of sweets, then devour your creation.
Families Create! Workshops are Saturdays from 10 a.m.-noon at the Weston Art Gallery in the Aronoff Center for the Arts. Admission is just $5 per child. For a full list of upcoming workshops, directions and parking visit the gallery website.
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!).
If Selena were stranded on a desert island with only one thing to do for the rest of her life, she would nurse her son in their favorite chair. It’s the best thing in the world right now.