The Children’s Discovery Museum of Central Maine is teaming up with artist and Lunder Institute for American Art Fellow Veronica Perez to create one-of-a-kind interactive pieces of art through community workshops, to be used 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 moving into the fabrication phase of development, according to a news release from the museum.

“It’s always been important to the museum that we incorporate the voices of the community within our exhibit design,” said Children Museum’s Executive Director Amarinda Keys. “Working with Veronica is so important because not only are we bringing her voice in as an artist, but she is connecting directly with the community as well.”

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 geared to ages 3-12 and last approximately two hours, taking place at both Greene Block + Studios, 18 Main St. in Waterville, and the Colby College Museum of Art, 5600 Mayflower Hill Drive in Waterville.

“I’ve never made sculptures specifically for children and that’s really exciting to me, having a kid and embracing them in this project too,” said Perez, who, as a community-based artist, makes accessibility for all a tenet of her practice. “Working with the community widens the birth of what the art means, who creates it. What I like about working with the children’s museum is I’m not just an artist in my studio but the community is a part of these works, which creates a sense of togetherness.”

The first set of workshops led by Perez will introduce children to the local flora and fauna of Maine before inviting them to create drawings of flowers that she will recreate as fabric sculptures. In the second part of the workshop, held later in the week for children ages 8 and older, participants can use real sewing machines and scissors to assist Perez in creating these works.

Advertisement

In the second set of workshops, both open to all ages 3-12, Perez will lead kids in a hands-on educational presentation about spiders, including how they help our gardens, what they eat, their digestive systems and their poop — because everybody poops and spider poops are very interesting and helpful to the ecosystem.

She will construct the skeletons of the spider poop balls out of plastic, then workshop participants will join her in weaving black and brown fabrics into them, giving the children the experience of seeing what it feels like to assist an artist with a concept.

“I love the idea of children participating in these workshops with Veronica and then coming to the museum later with their friends and family and seeing their own work displayed right there on the exhibit floor,” Keys said. “We want families to feel a sense of ownership at the museum.”

The children’s museum workshops draw on Perez’s talent and experience in engaging the community in her art. As one of the inaugural Lunder fellows, she is currently working on her upcoming solo exhibition at the Center for Maine Contemporary Arts in Rockland, which will showcase her braided hair sculptures that draw from both her research into her own family history and identity and the community braiding circles she holds for Maine’s BIPOC community. The braiding circles not only create braids for her large sculptures but also create a space for sharing stories about participant’s relationships with and experience of their hair that open up conversations on identity and belonging.

Support for the workshops is provided by Colby College Arts Office, Museum of Art, and the Center for the Arts and Humanities.

This project comes on the heels of the Children’s Discovery Museum’s $350,000 capital campaign launch, and aligns with the campaign’s theme: It Takes a Village. The museum has already funded $1.2 million of the $1.6 million expansion project that includes 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 activities-packed family “FUNdraising day” from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 30.

For more information, email Keys at [email protected] or visit childrensdiscoverymuseum.org.

filed under: