Making Time for the Little Things

By: Catie Anderson, curator of education on October 21st, 2020

Whether I’m worried, wondering, or wistful, my hands tend to get to work. This routine seems to help my brain work on things “in the background” while the momentum of my hands makes me feel like I’m still accomplishing something. While remaining healthy, the ever-present cloud of Covid-19 has fogged my brain and clear thinking is a distant memory, so I’ve been doing a lot of art projects, cleaning, and organizing in an effort to regain a sense of certainty and control.

Art projects – no matter how small or silly – are the most fulfilling activities when I feel overwhelmed and, of course, offer of a mental health boost. I’m fortunate and grateful to work at the Woodson Art Museum with creative and compassionate coworkers who not only indulge my occasionally – alright, frequently – odd habits, but often encourage them. This blog post is about one such instance.

Last week during a morning break-time conversation, Museum facilities manager Dave Jones casually mentioned that his wife, Karen, discovered an intriguing forest feature near their lakeside cabin. Exposed, arching roots of an old tree created a small cavity on the ground resembling a little room. Dave mentioned to Karen and then to coworkers how it looked like the perfect spot for tiny furniture and an opportunity for his grandsons, Ben and Max, to discover the scene during their upcoming weekend visit.

By that afternoon, Dave, curator of exhibitions Shannon Pueschner, and I were crafting miniature chairs and a table from sticks, twine, wire, and wood off-cuts. Administrative manager Elaina Johann joined in, too, finishing off a “floor lamp” with dried, cup-like leaves for shades. Fellow educator Lisa Hoffman visited, too, helping the group settle on gnomes as the owners and “original makers” of the living room set.

A couple hours of creative play proved to be a powerful antidote to our collective pandemic-induced anxiety, serving as an important reminder to find moments of uncomplicated fun during complex and daunting days.

For the entrance to the gnomes’ woodland hideout, Dave fashioned a bespoke door from a cedar shingle, which he closed after carefully placing the furniture inside for the boys to uncover.

Lucky for us, Ben and Max’s mom, Hillary, captured the dwelling discovery in a video for all to enjoy. Dave and Karen planted a nearby gnome campsite (pictured below), which the grandsons also delighted in finding later that day.

I hope this post offers a little bright spot and perhaps you’ll be inspired to make your own mood-lifting miniatures, too.

The Woodson Art Museum wishes you many moments of creative play in whatever form it takes.

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