the Children’s Discovery Museum of Central Maine teams up with the artist and Lunder Institute for American Art Fellow Veronique Perez create one-of-a-kind interactive works of art through community workshops, for use in the museum’s new exhibit hall.
The Children’s Museum has spent several years designing a new exhibit hall for the community and is now entering the manufacturing phase of development, according to a press release from the museum.
“It has always been important to the museum that we incorporate community voices into the design of our exhibits,” said Children Museum CEO Amarinda Keys. “Working with Veronica is so important because not only do we bring her voice as an artist, but she also connects directly with the community.”
Throughout June, Perez, a Maine-based multidisciplinary artist, plans to host a series of workshops that invite the community into the design and creation process. The workshops will be aimed at children aged 3 to 12 and will last approximately two hours. They will take place at Greene Block+ Studios, 18 Main St. in Waterville, and the Colby College Museum of Art, 5600 Mayflower Hill Drive in Waterville.
“I’ve never done sculptures specifically for children and it’s really exciting for me to have a child and embrace them in this project as well,” said Perez, who as a community artist does accessibility for all a principle of its practice. . “Working with the community expands the birth of what art means, who creates it. What I love about working with the children’s museum is that I’m not just an artist in my studio, but the community is part of those works, which creates a sense of togetherness.
The first series of workshops led by Perez will introduce children to local Maine flora and fauna before inviting them to create flower designs which she will recreate as fabric sculptures. In the second part of the workshop, held later in the week for children ages 8 and up, participants can use real sewing machines and scissors to help Perez create these works.
In the second set of workshops, both open to all ages 3-12, Perez will lead children in a hands-on educational presentation about spiders, including how they help our gardens, what they eat, their system digestive and their poop – because everyone droppings and spider droppings are very interesting and useful for the ecosystem.
She will build the skeletons of the plastic spider poop balls, then workshop participants will join her in weaving black and brown fabrics into them, giving children the experience of seeing what it feels like to help a artist with a concept.
“I love the idea of kids doing these workshops with Veronica and then coming to the museum later with their friends and family and seeing their own work displayed on the exhibit floor,” Keys said. “We want families to have a sense of belonging to the museum.”
The children’s museum workshops draw on Perez’s talent and experience to engage the community in his art. As one of the first Lunder Fellows, she is currently working on her next solo exhibition at the Center for Maine Contemporary Arts in Rockland, which will feature her braided hair sculptures that draw on both her research into her own history and family identity and on the community. braiding circles she owns for the BIPOC community in Maine. The braiding circles not only create braids for her large sculptures, but also create space to share stories about participants’ relationships with and experience of their hair that open up conversations about identity and belonging.
Support for the workshops is provided by the Colby College Arts Office, the Museum of Art, and the Center for the Arts and Humanities.
This project follows the launch of the Children’s Discovery Museum‘s $350,000 fundraising campaign and aligns with the campaign theme: It Takes a Village. The museum has already funded $1.2 million of the $1.6 million expansion project which includes the design and fabrication of all new exhibits and construction updates to its new location at 7 Eustis Parkway in Waterville. The campaign will kick off with an action-packed family fundraising day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 30.
For more information, email Keys at [email protected] or visit childrensdiscoverymuseum.org.