Where can you play games, see world-class art, meditate, explore an old factory, meet professional artists, cook pizza, mush about six different types of goo, and make artwork from just about anything? Only at ART CAMP. This past week, we had a small but incredible group of students spend their February vacation with us, playing and creating. They quickly became pretty close-knit, with inside jokes and collaborative projects. These kids were flexible, adventurous and imaginative – everything we could possibly want in a group of campers.
We started off most mornings with a mindful practice … one time we even meditated in MASS MoCA’s Building 5 Gallery, looking up at Xu Bing’s enormous, stunning phoenixes. Mornings were definitely the best time for us to explore the galleries, having the whole place to ourselves before the museum officially opened.
On the first day of camp, we asked everyone what materials they’d like to use in their art-making. This group was all about making stuff to mush! We worked with all sorts of goo— clay, homemade play-dough, plaster of Paris, ooblek (equal parts corn starch and water, which behaves not quite like a liquid and not quite like a solid), and even pizza dough. One kid had asked to make art with pizza, so of course we were happy to oblige! It was certainly the tastiest art of the week. Campers tried their hand at all sorts of activities — carpentry, jewelry-making, sun prints, cooking, photography. We also had some pretty unusual activities — like snow graffiti, making a bowling alley from recyclables, and even filming a satirical web tutorial.
We also were lucky enough to have a workshop from two local artists, Matt Belanger and Marianne Petit. Matt and Marianne were representing reclusive and mysterious Kidspace artists Ephraim and Sadie Hatfield, who currently have a pop-up book and cabinet of curiosity on view in “Curiosity.” Matt and Marianne talked to campers about mythological creatures, taught them how to make pop-ups. After kids had finished their pop-up masterpieces, we took it to the next level by adding a tiny LED light, illuminating their already-brilliant illustrations.
Throughout the week, campers worked on a variety of projects, which eventually culminated in a final exhibition. We invited families and museum staff to the exhibition, where kids showed off all the paintings, clay sculpture, and duct tape creations they had been working on. Each camper made a personal Cabinet of Curiosity, correlating to the current exhibition theme in Kidspace, filled with artwork that represented things these kids were interested in. They also each made a bell jar from 2-liter soda bottles, to display more of their curious artwork inside.