School’s Out; Summer’s In

By: Rachel Hausmann Schall, curator of education on June 15th, 2022

After a wet and long spring (some call it second winter in the Midwest), students and teachers are beaming with joy, thanks to the much-anticipated warmer temperatures and sunny weather. Early June means one thing: school’s out! As a previous classroom educator, I can confirm that nothing quite beats the feeling of the last day of school. Rooms are being cleaned, the hallways are silent, and not a single person dares to utter the words, “homework” or “grading.”

Art Park, the Museum's lower level interactive gallery is newly re-landscaped with hand-painted images of botanicals on the walls in blue and white and an oversized still life sculpture featuring an all white tomato, pear, pepper, and grapes surrounded by tables and chairs with drawing materials.

Art Park’s large-scale still life sculpture, inviting visitors to observe and sketch.

Graphite drawings hang on the wall in Art Park, showcasing a range of skill levels, sketching techniques, and a variety of fruits and vegetables as subjects.

Visitors took time to create during the opening weekend of Abundant Future.

With things heating up outside, summer programming at the Woodson Art Museum is about to take off. Museum staff just finished installing Abundant Future: Cultivating Diversity in Garden, Farm, and Field and reinventing Art Park with a bounty of oversized fruits and vegetables as well as new hands-on activities. Fellow educator Catie Anderson and I worked collaboratively to develop a new Art Kit that encourages learners of all ages to consider various modes of drawing and their impact on different styles of art. A botanical-themed Activity Guide cultivates creativity, too.

Tissue paper sculptures of carrots, eggplants, and pumpkins made up of various colors, shapes, and sizes hang on the community garden wall in Art Park.

Help our garden grow in Art Park, by contributing a tissue paper sculpture of a favorite fruit or vegetable.

Two apples rest, leaning against one another in the top half of the image. The bottom half of the image shows a blind contour line drawing of the apples.

Pick up an Art Kit and test your skills at blind contour, a drawing technique that encourages deep concentration and focus on a subject.

Looking ahead, the Museum’s education department is excited to welcome two artists-in-residence this summer for weekend workshops in June and August. Molly Hassler, a Milwaukee-based fiber artist will teach participants natural-dyeing techniques on June 25 and 26 outdoors in the sculpture garden. On August 6 and 7, Abundant Future watercolorist Lynne Railsback will inspire workshop attendees to capture the characteristics of heirloom and botanical subjects while working directly from plant specimens. In addition to workshops, the Museum will welcome several students, from kindergarten through fifth grade, in the galleries and outdoors for community-partner programs with the Boys & Girls Club and the Wausau School District’s Community Connections.

The galleries and grounds are blooming with various botanicals, and Museum programming is blossoming again. You won’t want to miss a new program offering, Making at the Museum, beginning June 22, 10am-Noon, for families and children of all ages. Museum educators will lead hands-on art making activities with rotating mediums each month throughout the summer.  With so much activity, I am looking forward to a bustling summer calendar with no homework assignments or gradebooks in sight.

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