The Art of Transformation

By: Catie Anderson, curator of education on June 29th, 2016

by Catie Anderson, curator of education

IAndy and Donna on Scaffolding, The Dance spent time last week watching artists-in-residence Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein, known as The Myth Makers, climb thirty-foot-tall scaffolding like a jungle gym, artfully weaving towering saplings into the biomorphic forms of a sandhill crane pair for their sculpture, The Dance.

Part storytellers, part alchemists, Donna and Andy, turned hardware cloth and zip ties into the colorful crowns of cranes while visitors transformed plastic bags into couriers for messages of hope and aspirations for the future. These gray, white, and tan plastic bags were added to mimic feathers and add movement and sound as they flutter in the warm, summer breeze.

Crane Head Detail, The DanceMonday, I spent time leading after-school art making for Wausau School District kindergarten through fifth-grade summer school students. The Community Connections program organizers chose the theme of “Transformation” as a way to connect the diverse activities the Woodson Art Museum and other area organizations bring students throughout the summer. I developed a range of art projects inspired by the transformations birds make throughout their lives – beginning in the nest as eggs, gaining strength as nestlings, and finally taking off as fledgings to grow into young birds (cue “The Circle of Life” music).

WVWT at Woodson Art MuseumMore artful transformations are in store at the Woodson during upcoming programs featuring the Wisconsin Valley Woodturners who work at lathes to transform wood into the curved silhouettes of chair legs and spindles. Learn more about woodworking techniques featured in The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design by participating in Art 101, Thursday, July 7, 5:30-6:30 pm or Wednesday, July 20, 12:15-1 pm. If you’d like additional hands-on learning, take a turn at the lathe working with a member of the WVWT during Art Park Open Studio, Saturday, August 6, 1-3 pm.

The transformations I’m looking forward to most, however, are yet to come in mid-July during the Museum’s summer Design Labs when youngsters will re-design and re-imagine chairs; call the Museum at 715.845.7010 for details and to register. The two half-day sessions encourage hands-on exploration of design principles, experimentation with materials, and creative learning opportunities. Co-worker Shannon Pueschner and I are eager to serve as studio assistants, cheerleaders, and guides during the Design Labs, but we’re most excited to see how young designers transform the existing chairs into original works of art.

How will all that awaits at the Woodson transform your summer?

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