Experiences That Shape Us

By: Rachel Hausmann-Schall, artist residency & adult program manager on December 6th, 2023

As a child, I went to daycare. I have both fond and unpleasant memories of being at daycare. It’s where I met my best friend, who I still consider my best friend to this day (27 years later!). It’s where I had my first childhood boyfriend, but it’s also the place where I learned what a timeout was and how to defend myself from my childhood bully. In my family, there’s a famous line we remember from my time at daycare – “Ms. Teacher, Ms. Teacher, he HIT me!” and the teacher responded, “Well . . . hit him back!”

I don’t know that I would use that advice now as an adult, but daycare was the place where I learned a lot of valuable life lessons, both good and bad. I remember my favorite teachers, Kristin and Sonya, who would give me extra snacks when I was getting picked up late. They also read me my favorite childhood book – Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, written by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, and illustrated by Lois Ehlert. By reading this book, I learned the alphabet, but I was also exposed to some of the fundamentals of art – color, composition, repetition, and scale. It’s because of my memories with Kristin and Sonya at daycare that I hold a place in my heart for this book, and for my time spent there – one of the fond memories.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom cover

Docents in the galleries during Art Cluster

Formative experiences like going to daycare shape who we are and who we become as adults. It’s the good teachers, like Sonya and Kristin, that help make lasting memories. I see our corps of Museum docents in the same light. Giving tours of the galleries to school-age kids, they communicate the inspiration behind artworks, concepts that led to the creation of objects, and the variety of processes artists use to create their work. I have seen it time and time again in the galleries; our docents winning over groups of 10-year-olds with their charisma, knowledge, humor, and passion. Most recently, our docents succeeded in creating valuable memories for students that visited in October with Artist in Residence Ariana Vaeth.

© [2008] by Yuyi Morales

© [2008] by Yuyi Morales

After welcoming our first third grade tour of the exhibition Soñadora: Yuyi Morales this week, I could feel the impact of our docents yet again. This exhibition is ripe with material for Museum visitors to explore, students included. Yuyi Morales, an award-winning author and illustrator, creates mixed media artworks that reflect her perspectives and experiences as an immigrant. With relatable narratives and inventive characters, she shares her love for family, culture, and personal histories through brightly colored illustrations. One of her titles, Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book follows Señor Calavera, who is brainstorming ideas for a birthday gift. The gift ideas included are written in Spanish and English and there is one for each letter of the alphabet. I suspect that many children learn their letters from reading this book, just like my experience with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. I’m thrilled to be exploring the content and imagery in this exhibition and am especially looking forward to welcoming Yuyi Morales to the Museum in mid-February for a week-long residency.

Installation images of artwork by Yuyi Morales on view in the main galleries now through February 25, 2024

I know our docents will share their love and interest in this children’s illustrated literature exhibition during upcoming tours with the Wausau School District in January and February. It’s the docents that provide long-lasting memories of the Woodson Art Museum for the youth in the Wausau community. I am deeply grateful to our docent corps for providing extraordinary experiences to young museum goers and shaping their perspectives on art. I know I have learned a thing or two from each of them as well – especially those that were part of the Museum’s inaugural Docent Class in the late 1970s and are still active today! By keeping students engaged in the galleries and teaching them about visual art, I hope that the many young minds that visit the Woodson Art Museum enter the creative field as adults.

Interested in becoming a Woodson Art Museum Docent? Email scheduling@lywam.org

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