New Year, New Team, Same Support

By: Catie Anderson, curator of education on February 1st, 2023

2023 is off to a busy and promising start at the Woodson Art Museum with new staff members hitting the ground running and all hands on deck working together to offer meaningful programs for the north central Wisconsin community.

Eight students and volunteer docent crouch down to view a large, round headdress made of feathers on a pedestal in the Museum gallery.

Museum docent and fourth-grade Art Cluster students take a closer look at a Bamileke JuJu hat from Cameroon, featured in “The Global Language of Headwear.”

On January 24, Museum staff and volunteer docents welcomed 80 fifth graders from the Wausau School District for interactive gallery tours and creative brainstorming in the Museum’s classroom. On January 25, 80 fourth grade students explored The Global Language of Headwear, which inspired hat making that showcased the maker’s personality. These back-to-back-half-day visits kick off the school district’s Art Cluster program offered each year for fourth and fifth graders with a keen interest in visual art.

As one can imagine, offering a two-and-a-half-hour program for 80 students requires plenty of additional help and multiple coworkers, volunteers, and, of course school district staff. Fortunately, all stepped up to the plate in support of the education department. Especially big “thank yous” go to Tammy Steckbauer – Wausau School District’s Gifted and Talented Coordinator, Kris Peterson – Gifted and Talented Program Secretary, Jennah Guyer – Teacher and Art Cluster Coordinator, Art Specialists Rebekah Anderson and Jenny Allee, and to the bus drivers for bringing students from elementary schools to the Museum and the Boys and Girls Club.

Two side-by-side images, on the left a group of students and docent smile while they view a curly sheepskin hat on view in galleries; the second image on the right shows Museum classroom filled with tables of students making paper hats while a Museum staff member tells to the group at the closest table in the photograph.

Left: A volunteer docent and a group of fourth graders gather around a Telpek, a sheepskin hat from Turkmenistan. Right: Museum facilities manager Dave Jones talks to Art Cluster students as they design and construct hats in the classroom.

The supportive spirit of the Woodson team continued over the weekend when Team USA Snow Sculptors – Mike Martino, Tom Queoff, and Mike Sponholtz – transformed an 8’ x 8’x 6’ block of snow into a Stormy Kromer-inspired sculpture. On Saturday, January 28, artist Mike Martino joined fellow Museum educator Rachel Hausmann-Schall and I in offering Art Beyond Sight (ABS), a multi-sensory program for individuals with low vision and blindness. Guest artists are always a welcome addition to the program, as they bring special insights, objects, and stories to share with participants, ensuring the experience is as enriching and engaging as possible. A smaller block of snow was prepared late last week for ABS participants to practice carving with instruction and hand tools provided by Martino. Program attendees braved the below-zero temperatures and took turns working outside the Museum’s main entrance to try their hands at sculpting snow. Following pre-carved guidelines, Martino helped individuals remove material using different tools for scraping and shaping snow, to rough out a head shape from the block.

Two side-by-side photographs of Art Beyond Sight participants carve a block of snow with sculptor Mike Martino outside the Museum's main entrance.

Snow sculptor Mike Martino works with Art Beyond Sight program participants to carve a block of snow.

Museum Director Matt Foss holds a bronze sculpture by Team USA Snow Sculptors for Art Beyond Sight participants to touch in the Museum's main entrance.


Inside, Museum Director Matt Foss joined the group and assisted with sharing tactile objects like sculpture maquettes and bronze casting materials relating to Martino’s work in a more permanent medium.

The program concluded in the classroom with conversations about Mike Martino’s studio practice, working collaboratively with fellow artists Sponholtz and Queoff, and career highlights. Martino even passed around his bronze medal from the 1998 Winter Olympic Arts Festival in Iiyama, Japan.

The Woodson team is looking forward to working together again this week during collaborative programs with the Central Wisconsin Hmong Professionals. We invite all to join us for tomorrow evening’s presentation on Hmong garments and headwear and Saturday’s Regalia Runway shows.


Art Beyond Sight Participant smiles for the camera and poses with Mike Martino's bronze Olympic medal.

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