Lichtenstein and Flying Cats

For those of you who don’t know, I am a little behind because I sprained my ankle last Tuesday morning and missed four days of work. Before that happened, though, I had several adventures, including a trip to see Beasts of the Southern Wild (so good!). Here are a few photographs I took from the top of a parking structure in Evanston:

Evanston

Spider

Skyline

The Metra

In terms of work-related adventures, I had an awesome time at Millennium Park during our fifth week here at the museum. As the other interns have mentioned, we spent the week of July 9th working at the Family Fun Activity Zone on Chase Promenade North. I was in the tent for five of those days, greeting and assisting the families who stopped at the Art Institute’s station. I loved helping with the studio art projects (all related to our Roy Lichtenstein retrospective) and it was fun to get to know the contractors who came in to help with the activities — especially Tim, a Peace Corps Volunteer, and a few studio art teachers who shared their experiences. Becky Manuel, the Coordinator of Community Programs at AIC, did a great job organizing the week’s schedule and really made me feel at home in the park.

A number of my favorite experiences this summer took place at the Family Fun tent. On one of the days, a 7-year-old boy wandered over to the station while I was restocking a table with stickers. He asked if he could work on the art project we were doing — miniature dioramas inspired by Roy Lichtenstein’s studio interior paintings — and I sat down to keep him company.

“My name is Alex, like Alexander the Great,” he said. “My mom will be so appreciative that you are looking after me because she has THREE kids in here. She says I can make some art as long as I sit at THIS table, where she can see me.” His mom waved at me from across the way, where a dozen kids were building giant towers out of wooden blocks.

Alex and I talked about how much he likes red (his first favorite color) and blue (his third favorite color), and he told me all about his pirate Lego sets and his little brother. He described what it was like to walk from church to his cousins’ house. At one point he looked down at his glue stick and said, “My mom says I can’t go to my old school anymore because Kentucky is really far away and I would be late every single day.”

As we talked, he used one half of a jewelry box to build an artist’s studio. He used the other half to “protect the room” since he “had to walk kind of far to get home.” When he found out the miniature paintings he had carefully glued to his studio wall were actually stickers, he panicked and tried to pry them off.

“Why are you taking those off?” I asked.

“Because they’re stickers…” he said, clearly upset that he had adhered the stickers with glue instead of with their own stickiness.

“You don’t have to use the stickers as stickers,” I said. “You can stick them your own way.”

He looked down at his diorama. Then he drew two big smiley faces on the back.

Ohhh Alright by Roy LichtensteinOn another day at the park, two parents brought their four-year-old daughter over to a table where Carey and I were sitting. On that particular day, we were making Ohhh…Alright…-esque comics, and the parents wanted to make sure their little girl was doing it “right.” She decided she wanted to create a narrative about her cat who had recently passed away, who was now a flying superhero somewhere in the sky, and the interaction that followed was a big learning moment for me in terms of the difference between teaching a family and teaching an individual child. It was exciting for me to think that the parents might be able to take some art education techniques away from the experience and have even more of an impact on their daughter’s development. For example, when their daughter said she couldn’t do something by herself, they always offered to do it for her. They were incredibly loving parents but they seemed to underestimate her ability to do things independently. Whenever she thought she couldn’t do something, Carey and I broke it down into simpler terms, and she always executed her idea on her own.

The best part was when she decided how to draw the cat’s legs. She placed two lines — with more lines for feet — parallel underneath the cat’s head, and then she sat and thought about where to place the second pair of legs. If we had told her where to put them, I think we all would have directed her to the far right of the first pair of legs, since it looked like the cat’s body was coming out in that direction. But it turned out that she was really drawing a forward-facing cat, with a cape flying out to the right side because “the wind was blowing” in that direction. When left to her own devices, she drew the second pair of legs behind the first pair of legs: next to them, but much smaller.

She drew them IN PERSPECTIVE.

Another epic win for children everywhere.

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