Experiencing Art with a Range of Audiences

By: Rachel Hausmann-Schall, artist residency & adult program manager on October 5th, 2022

With the smell of fall in the air and leaves beginning to change colors, I’m still processing the opening weekend and celebration of this year’s Birds in Art exhibition. Last year at this time, my husband and I finished relocating to central Wisconsin and moving into our first home. I had just experienced my first ever Birds in Art opening and was reeling from all the new faces, names, and traditions. It’s interesting, however, because this year felt like it brought a whole new bag of “firsts” for me as well. I traveled with Birds in Art artists “up north” on the Saturday afternoon of opening weekend and connected with artists from all over the world. We all shared delightful conversations about one very important topic: art. Discussions continued and artists’ interest grew after hearing about the Woodson Art Museum’s latest project, the Glass Box Studio. What artist wouldn’t be excited about a dream studio with lots of space and natural light?

A gallery view depicts paintings, sculptures, and prints from Birds in Art 2022. Marcel Witte's Multicultural is featured center frame, with 40 panels painted like birdhouses and various birds perched or looking out.

Birds in Art 2022, installation view

In my role, I am fortunate to have art-related experiences and discussions with a variety of audiences. We recently welcomed our first school students and tour groups in the galleries to explore Birds in Art 2022. After spending time with Charles Compo’s Bad Birdie, I was impressed by the imaginative observations from an insightful group of second-grade students. We talked about repetition, spaceships, portals, and explosions. Afterward, we practiced our knowledge in the Museum classroom by exploring an Art Kit and learning about composition by creating geometric designs.

Three artworks from Birds in Art 2022 hang on the gallery wall. (left) A serigraph with a blue background features a Peregrine falcon darting down from the top right corner. (center) A large abstract painting with with blues and greens shows a parakeet surrounded by a circle and surrounded by geometric shapes. (right) A linocut depicts two Cockatoos in a black and yellow color scheme perched in a tree.

Birds in Art 2022, installation view featuring Charles Compo’s Bad Birdie (center)

Engaging with audiences doesn’t always happen in the Museum galleries or on our campus. Fellow educator Catie Anderson and I are collaborating with Wausau Area Mobile Meals and a Medical College of Wisconsin-Central Wisconsin student on a project that delivers art kits to mobile-meal clients. Fruitfully titled “Art for Dessert,” this program brings the fundamentals of art and design to audiences who might not otherwise have access. Every other month, clients receive – along with one of their meal deliveries – art supplies and inspiration for hands-on making, to encourage self-care and creativity.

Rows of plastic containers filled with art supplies line the top of a counter in the Museum's workroom.

Art Kits prepped in the Museum workroom for the first delivery of “Art for Dessert”

I’m excited to continue experiencing art with new audiences during Birds in Art Gallery Walks on October 6 & 20, 5:30-6:30 pm and Sean Russell’s upcoming residency, November 10-13. This Wausau native and first-time Birds in Art artist will work in the Museum’s classroom, visit with school groups, give a guest-artist talk, and teach a weekend workshop themed around mixed-media techniques. I hope you can join us, because I would love to participate in art experiences with you, too.


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