Columbus Museum of Art’s mission is to create great experiences with great art for everyone. Whether we are presenting an exhibition, designing an art-making activity, or giving visitors directions, we are guided by a vision to connect people and art. CMA nurtures that connection and removes barriers between our community and our collection.
Celebrate Valentine’s Day week with #HeartsforArt. Once again CMA is joining museums across the country to celebrate Valentine’s Day with #HeartsforArt, a special way for art lovers to show off their love of art.
Pick up a heart at the CMA admission desk and place it in front of an artwork you love, from February 13-18, 2018.
Share your love of art by taking a picture and hashtag #heartsforart and tag @columbusmuseum across your favorite social media platforms.
One day this year, millions of people paused from their daily routine to experience wonder. On August 21, 2017 people from all over the country went outside, looked at the sky, and gasped. If you were one of the millions who donned special glasses and rejoiced at the movement of sun and moon, then you already know what wonder feels like.
Wonder is a brief encounter with something awe-inspiring, shocking, or utterly unbelievable. Wonder is a fleeting encounter with something unexpected, yet unmistakable. A squirrel running across the road doesn’t inspire wonder. An albino squirrel sitting in your living room does.
The tantalizing thing about wonder is that it catches you off guard. Every. Single. Time.
The sight of a funnel-cloud flirting with the horizon. Gasp! The first sounds of your baby’s beating heart. Gasp! The brush of a bat’s wing on a summer evening. Gasp!
The great thing about wonder is that it reminds us what it means to be alive, alert, and part of a larger world. Wonder shakes us out of our mundane routine. Wonder is our brain’s way of telling us to stop, even for a brief moment, and notice something new. If we’re lucky, that moment may inspire further investigation, learning, and understanding about ourselves and the world.
At CMA we champion the mysterious, multitudinous, mesmerizing power of wonder. Out of those moments, not matter how brief, great artists, and people like you and me, are motivated to question, investigate, and think anew. Gasp!
The new Wonder Room will open in CMA’s JPMorgan Chase Center for Creativity the weekend of October 28 with a special member debut on October 27 from 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM.
-Merilee Mostov is CMA’s Director of Inclusive Interpretation
The Wonder Room is a one-of-a-kind gallery designed to foster imagination, experimentation, and storytelling in visitors of all ages. It encapsulates CMA’s values of creativity, experience, and relationships. Works of art are displayed in unexpected ways, and custom, hands-on activities are featured prominently near great works of art.
Leading up to the opening of the NEXT version of the Wonder Room, we asked visitors to share their Wonder Room photos and memories. Below are some of the terrific photos visitors shared.
The new Wonder Room will open in CMA’s JPMorgan Chase Center for Creativity the weekend of October 28 with a special member debut on October 27 from 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM.
Have your own memories of the Wonder Room? Share your photos and tag us on social media: @columbusmuseum and #mycma.
Aniya Anderson-Wilson is one of the newest teen mentors at Columbus Museum of Art, and is also an alum of the Surge teen program, a citywide free drop-in program designed for teens to experiment with technology, and hang out with other young creatives. Aniya is an artist and illustrator, and over the course of her years as a teen in Surge, Aniya became a natural leader. So, when she graduated from high school last May, she was offered a position as a mentor at CMA’s Teen Open Studio, one of six programs that are part of the Surge network across Columbus.
We sat down with her recently to talk about her role as a Surge-teen-turned-mentor, her studio practice, and what is special about Surge.
What exactly do you spend your time doing when you work in the studio?
Usually when I come in I try to stay focused. I’ll come with a set goal in mind, like I want to start designing a particular character. It’s not anything serious, just a task I set for myself, but I would come here to do it and socialize with my friends, get their input, and wind up with a collection of ideas.
Has anything surprised you about the experience during your time here?
Surprised me? What has surprised me in particular had to be the diversity of students that come in and the amount of things that I got learn when I was coming. So between the mentors that were here when I started coming as a teen, to the artists that they brought in, to just the collective knowledge of the other students was a big thing I was surprised about. It wasn’t just a teacher telling you things, it was more about “we’re here and sharing these ideas.”
In what ways do you think Open Studio has benefitted the individuals who attend?
Teen Open Studio is such a big difference when compared to school and I think that’s the main part that has kids coming back regularly. The fact that we get to share and work off one another really does help. For instance there will be instances where a friend of mine doesn’t know how to work a program, so I get to teach them. But then they point out something that I didn’t recognize because I don’t think like that person. Teaching someone how to do something, in itself, is almost a better way to learn that thing.
For the individuals who attend regularly, or have visited multiple times, have you seen progression in their work?
Just from an example standpoint, I’ve seen a lot of progression from the teens who work in the sound booth. I’ve seen in their interactions between themselves and Andre (another mentor and music producer) communicate better. They can discuss certain things and go from “I have an idea” to execution. Seeing not only the stages of their work but how it progresses step-by-step is really interesting. What starts as an idea slowly becomes this final product and that’s really cool.
What is the most memorable piece of art that you’ve seen someone make during Teen Open Studio?
That’s a tough one. The first thing that comes to mind is recently one of my friends did a piece digitally for the first time, because I decided to hassle him over and over again. This was before I was a mentor so I wasn’t hassling a student I promise (laughs), but he was a friend of mine who was strictly traditional. He tried digital for the first time after I managed to get him to do it and he created this cool piece. I loved it so much, it told an interesting story, and it was just fantastic to see.
What would you tell a teen who hasn’t been to the Studio to convince them to give it a shot?
I think teens would want to come for above all else the community that’s built when you come here. Realistically, Fridays are the quieter of the two days for those who might be apprehensive. But even when there aren’t a ton of people here there is still life in the Studio. You get to play with new materials and you don’t have to pay for any of it. And who doesn’t enjoy being creative in a space where everything is free?
Come meet Aniya, hang out with other young creatives, and make your mark at Surge Columbus! For more details about the Surge program visit www.http://www.surgecolumbus.org.
SURGE is a collaboration between CMA, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Wexner Center for the Arts, TRANSIT ARTS and WOSU Public Media, and COSI and is made possible by a grant from Battelle.
If you visited the Columbus Museum of Art on a certain Sunday last December or April, you might have stumbled upon a gigantic, quilted heart into which you were invited to pose a question to your soul. Or you may have been ushered into a translucent dome representing the social “bubbles” we live in. Or you might have found yourself in a dark, curtained booth, listening to the life stories of young strangers. You may even have unburdened yourself to a “therapist” who then dispensed her prescribed “medication,” capsules filled with substances like glitter (to bring more excitement to your life) or dirt (to help you find a sense of grounding).
These are just some of the many participatory art works created by teens in Art Lab. Art Lab is a yearlong, in-depth experience in which a small group of high school students spend a full day each week with the Museum. Teens apply to participate, and selections are made to include a diverse range of past experience, with special consideration to youth with limited access to other arts opportunities and those who have not been successful in traditional school models.
Throughout the program, youth explore the creative vibrancy of the city, work with Columbus-based artists, learn about careers in museums, and craft visitor experiences such as those described above. What results is a jaw-dropping array of art and ideas, exploring profound themes in dynamic ways. Perhaps most impressive is the way the teen artists, often shy at the start of the program, actively engage visitors in thoughtful dialogue around fundamental questions of art and life.
The CMA team guides and coaches throughout the year, supporting teens to craft their own experience – from idea to implementation – in collaboration with one another. Teens thrive in this culture of collaborative and authentic learning, and the growth of these young people is incredible. One parent remarked that without Art Lab, she didn’t know where her son would be.
In 2015, researchers Danielle Linzer and Mary Ellen Munley published a groundbreaking research initiative Room to Rise, which investigated the long-term impacts of museum-based teen arts programs such as Art Lab. This study found that participation in programs like Art Lab leads to powerful and prolonged impacts on teens, including
Increased social capital, personal development, participation in the arts, and artistic and cultural literacy;
Close and trusting relationships with peers and museum staff;
Growth in a sense of identity, confidence, achievement, and empowerment;
Expanded career horizons;
Increased value placed on community, collaboration, and diversity.
The hundreds of visitors who interacted with Art Lab artists have seen the seeds of this growth. The young creatives of Art Lab challenge themselves and their peers; create art that displays courage and vulnerability; stretch themselves intellectually, creatively, and socially; and help to reimagine what a museum can be. Indeed, you the audience play an important role in this growth; one teen reflected that a visitor “came up to me and was really interested. It made me think she believed in me more than I believe in myself, and it really touched me.”
-Jennifer Lehe, Columbus Museum of Art Manager of Strategic Partnerships
The Columbus Museum of Art defines creativity as “the process of using critical thinking and imagination to generate new ideas that have value.”
A fairly straightforward definition, as most would agree, for a far more complex word. And no not complicated in structure or in practice, but in individual meaning. For those not artistically inclined in the traditional sense (like yours truly), creativity can be a scary word, a representation of lack of skill to draw or to paint—memories of your old art classes where you sat in the back with your head down. Yet, for those who attended the recent Teaching for Creativity (TFC) Institute at the Columbus Museum of Art, creativity became more than just a word.
As most have directly or indirectly experienced, the focus of today’s educational practice relies increasingly on teaching for test scores and data. The TFC Institute (held annually) like most of the work of the Learning Department at CMA, seeks to open people’s eyes and minds to their own individual creative abilities, in this case, with hopes of the educators bringing their new knowledge back to the classroom where creativity can find its way into everyday lessons and learning.
The four-day experience exposed the various teachers from across the state of Ohio (and one from West Virginia) to the versatility of creativity across age groups or subject matters. Through speakers, activities and collaboration with fellow attendees, these teachers were able to reflect upon out their own creative practice while making new connections, thinking about problems, and creating their own solutions.
Perhaps the most insightful moment of the four-day event came at the very tail end of the TFC Institute. In the final activity, the sixty participating educators imagined their “perfect summer evening” and then re-imagined that same evening as if they were a monster instead. Many educators chose to create a creature out of various pieces of cardboard, Styrofoam, tape, or whatever else they could get their hands on. The final results were as kooky as you’d expect from the mind of a young elementary student, with just a few adult twists and maybe some straighter lines.
This activity felt very important in the grand scheme of what the TFC Institute was trying to accomplish. Creativity is not just for the artistically inclined or the occasional art class, but rather a skill to be practiced by everyone no matter their age or profession. To see sixty adults sitting on the floor furiously cutting and taping away is a sight to behold. Not only for the slight absurdity of the situation, but for the enthusiasm and eagerness at the chance to create exhibited by educators who had been at the conference for four days.
To stifle creativity in the classroom, or in any environment, does a disservice to the organic originality and imagination that produces so many great ideas in the world. While being exact or following the guidelines has its place and time, impulsiveness can lead to heaps of new ideas and innovations. As students grow older and school become more and more vital to their future, those key problem solving-skills practiced in creative outlets can make learning that much easier. Breaking the norm and expectations of the classroom is easier said than done without a doubt, but with a goal in place to cultivate creativity in the minds of young learners and adults, the first steps are very much in place.
– Sam Brady is a senior at The Ohio State University, currently enrolled in the Middle Childhood Educational Studies program. As part of his program, he is completing a 10-credit hour internship with the Columbus Museum of Art’s Learning Department.
In the 1940s, Columbus native Laura Ziegler won a scholarship to the Columbus Art School (now Columbus College of Art and Design), graduated from Ohio State where sculptor Irwin Frey was her mentor, and studied at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. She received a Fulbright Fellowship in 1949 to study polychrome sculpture in Italy and afterwards made her home in the small Tuscan town of Lucca where she lived until her death on May 4 of this year.
During the 1950s, Ziegler’s career enjoyed a meteoric rise. Alfred Barr, then the director of the Museum of Modern Art, saw her work at the Duveen-Graham Gallery in New York and purchased one of her sculptures for his museum. Joseph Hirshhorn was an avid collector of her work and it became a part of his enormous gift to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC. Ziegler’s work has been exhibited internationally including the Venice Biennale in 1956 and 1958. She worked on several important architectural projects such as the Velodrome for the 1960 Roman Olympic Games and she created portrait sculptures of many well-known personalities including Gore Vidal, Zero Mostel, and Isaac Bashevis Singer.
Like Walking Friar, many of Zeigler’s sculptures are small scale and capture the thoughtful facial expressions and bearings of her subjects. But she has also created monumental commissions including two here in Columbus: the 18-foot steel and Plexiglas cross (1951) at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on the Ohio State campus and The Burning Bush (1959) at Temple Israel on East Broad Street. The Columbus Museum of Art presented exhibitions of Ziegler’s work in 1957, 1967, and 2001. In the catalogue for her 2001 exhibition, Laura Ziegler, A Columbus Sculptor Comes Home, the artist stated, “I’m not an ex-patriate. I’m a patriate living temporarily abroad most of my life. I’ve always felt Columbus was my home and I’ve never left it, really. It’s my only home.” She shared her ex-patriate life with Herbert Handt, an American, Julliard-trained opera singer/conductor and fellow Fulbright recipient, whom she married in 1954 and who continues to live in Lucca.
Andre Williams has been coming to the museum since 2014. He started coming because he heard there was a free music studio available at Teen Open Studio. In 2016 when he turned 20 he was brought on as official staff and became a Mentor. Pretty quickly Andre also joined the Visitor Engagement team, and is also helping visitors in the galleries. He went from donating plasma for money to pay for studio time to helping teens and visitors engage creatively. Below are excerpts from an interview from Spring 2017 between Andre Williams and Michael Voll, the Teen Programs Coordinator at Columbus Museum of Art.
MV: Andre I wanted to talk to you and ask you a couple of questions just so people can know a little bit more about your story. So can you tell me about the first time that you came to Teen Open Studio?
AW: I emailed (you) Mr. Mike and got in contact and got more information about the museum, but specifically the studio.
MV: The music studio?
AW: Yeah the music studio. That was the first thing I was interested in. I had seen ‘free studio’. I was donating plasma for recording studios. We were able to come in, create some stuff, learn some stuff and it expanded from there. Then I figured out that I didn’t want to actually make music. At first I was rapping, but now I make more so records. I might share the ideas. Give the record to somebody and do more behind the scenes with management and marketing. I just started a company not too long ago. I just got my LLC papers back from the Secretary of State. So I have that now.
AW: YEAH. So pretty much I figured out I wanted to do that. I was very artistic and needed ways to express my art but I didn’t know if fully being an artist was my thing. I think more it is me bringing the art out of others and helping people to their potential. I think that’s my thing.
MV: Why did you keep coming back?
AW: The environment. Because after a while, yeah it was the free studio, but after a while people. I brought people to the studio because we were chasing the dream together. But one by one people start falling off. But I still kept coming because I built a foundation and bondage with a lot of people. Like you, Mr. Alvin, and it was good, it was an outlet. I was going through a lot of stuff at the time. Up and down with school, money situations with different stuff. And it was (being) able to talk to you all, coming in to talk with you all on Thursdays and Fridays, and I was able to create something even if I was painting shoes and I was failing.
Most of my first creations I was failing. Most of my time the shoes that I painted sucked in the beginning. They were horrible. My clothes that I was making on the sewing machine sucked. My tailorations on clothes sucked in the beginning, but I still was coming because it was a bond and it was really cool and there were a lot of people here that I was able to vibe with and do different things. I just appreciated it because I needed it. I needed to get away and express my art. And yeah it was real stressful but that kept me going. Coming back was the people. The people here, really, that was really it.
MV: is there anything else that you did as a teen?
AW: Yeah, the music, fashion, mentorship. That’s the number one thing. Like literally people like Beibs, well I call her Beibs but Teen Mentor Morgan, or just some of the other teens I would just sit ant I would admire their art. I didn’t know that I was helping them on their journey, but I was just being sincere. I was being sincere and like I really love your pieces. (Saying) I really love this or the way you did this. I was being sincere and I was seeing that it was motivation and it was helping them. That was the other main thing that I got into and I found my passion. My first year at SURGE and my senior year of high school it showed me that I am supposed to be in something with mentorship.
And mentorship goes a long way, like management, when you’re a manager you are really a mentor. Or when you are leading people you are a mentor. Those are the best leaders not people that are just bosses of people but when you are mentoring people, helping people, when people can see that you are by their side, that you are there to help.
MV: So you were telling me a story earlier when you were about to turn 20.
AW: I was stressing before I turned 20, like what am I going to do? I was like dang. And I had no clue there was a job opportunity available. Before I turned 20 you and Mr. Alvin offered me a job. I was really appreciative because I did not want to leave and I didn’t know what I was going to do next. I didn’t have anything to do next. I was working, at that time, I was working three jobs. I was working a third-shift job. I was working at Foot Locker, and I had taken two classes at Columbus State, but I started failing one of my classes so it was bad. That time was a learning experience. Having three jobs, I was in school and I was still coming here. And here was giving me the outlet with everything with stress. Thinking that myself I was not going nowhere because I was doing too much. I didn’t have any goals or aspirations or anything, but coming here it kept me and it shined the light on what I was supposed to do.
MV: When Mackenzie left, the previous mentor, because of college conflicts I remember asking her, “Hey do you have any friends who you would recommend to be a mentor?” She said, “100 percent hire Andre. He already does everything a mentor needs. He has the mindset, he has the knowledge, he has the skills.”
AW: I appreciate it.
MV: So my last question is: Where do you see yourself in the future?
AW: I definitely see myself still mentoring. Definitely when I get to a place I am giving back to SURGE. And I definitely see myself running an entertainment company like I am starting to do. Helping artists and different people. Building a brand, Slim Hype, with my brand I am doing self-help and education, but also music and entertainment. The main thing is helping. I want to help everybody reach their potential, reach their goals and reach their destiny. That is my end goal, to build that. It’s about collaboration. That is the number one thing that I have learned here, it is about collaborating.
MV: I think you will do it. So do you have anything else to say?
AW: Man um it’s weird. I am getting emotional. I appreciate you Mr. Mike I really do, like sincerely from the bottom of my heart every, every, everything that you have done. And you will prolly look and understand, but know that you impacted a lot of us. And I know you impacted me.
MV: Thank you. You inspire me, and you inspire a lot of people. I hope you see that in yourself too.
The Columbus Museum of Art has provided more than 200 hours of programming annually for Columbus teens like Andre Williams, who now serves as a program mentor in Teen Open Studio.
Help shape unique experiences like Teen Open Studio, and nurture an environment that fosters teens’ creative thinking skills, exploration, and learning.
Teachers practicing their own creativity at the final workshop of the Teaching for Creativity Institute.
Recently I had an experience that left my head swimming. It was the last session of the Teaching for Creativity Institute , and we were closing out the year with a day of teacher-led workshops. The participants in the Institute and the Leaders for Creativity fellows who designed the day are extraordinary. I have worked with them in different ways all year long, and seen them re-imagine, experiment, and reflect in truly impressive ways. It isn’t surprising, then, that I walked away from this bonanza of puzzles and inspirations with many ideas bouncing around in my mind, ricocheting off one another to head off in new directions.
One such sticky idea came from Jason Blair, a teacher and frequent thought partner. He highlighted creativity as a mindset with us all the time – not a behavior confined to particular moments and packed away when it is time to move on to more serious pursuits. Learning can be designed to explicitly build and stretch creativity; however, if we really value creativity we must celebrate it all the time.
This sounds simple at first. Who wouldn’t want to support creativity all the time? In practice, though, we often welcome creativity only when it is on our terms.
Jason contrasted the reaction to student creativity on an assigned project – This is exactly what I hoped for! – to the reaction when a child demonstrates creativity when it hasn’t been asked for, like dancing down the hall rather than walking – That is NOT the way we behave in the hallway! Show some maturity! We adults, after all, know better. There is time for imagination and play, but it had better respect the schedule.
You may be thinking that rules are in place for safety; just one false dance move can land a kid in the nurse’s office. That is a fair point, and at the Museum we take the safety of visitors and art very seriously. But reflecting on every moment as a space for creativity, how might we maintain safety while fostering imagination, another priority during a museum visit? Cat Lynch, who leads young child programming, has some delightful approaches to this. For example, she might have children imagine sneaking through the jungle of a landscape (“remember to quietly push aside the vines and grasses!”), or imagine they are creatures, characters, or crew-mates of a vehicle in a work of art they have just explored together, (“we’ll need to steer together”).
Cat also has a rule in her summer programs that any play fighting must be done in slow-motion. Kids of all ages love to play-fight, but this presents a threat to safety. Instead of engaging in an unwinnable fight against fighting, Cat identified the actual reason fighting is a bad idea, and found a creative compromise. The result is as absurd as you are probably imagining – but no one gets hurt, and there is the bonus benefit that kids have an understanding of why they shouldn’t play fight (i.e. even if it is a game to you, quick and violent motions could hurt someone.) This is just one educator’s response to the specific example of walking down the hall, but it illustrates that we can identify what matters about a rule and find ways to get what we need without inhibiting creativity.
When we stifle creativity that emerges organically at a time that is “inconvenient” for us, we make spaces unsafe for originality. When we value conformity and obedience in children, we crush the impulses needed for creativity, the basis of change and innovation. Later, as these young people enter the workforce, we wonder what happened to their creativity problem solving skills. Perhaps we left them in that hallway.
Innovators don’t spend their PreK-12 years assiduously following rules, then, upon receiving their exit ticket from high school immediately have the capacity to see the world in new ways. They were often the misfits all along. What we label rule-breaking in children, we often celebrate as visionary with adults. This, however, calls for a moment of honesty: We may value rebelliousness in the heroic stories of innovators, but how often do we really value and cultivate radically original ideas in our own workplaces? If you want a deep-dive into this, I recommend Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant. It is a must-read for anyone who cares about fostering better ideas in their organization. CMA just wrapped a Leadership Series group-read of Originals in partnership with the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation. The book upends a lot of assumptions and workplace practices, and left me with many puzzles and knots to tease out when I reflect on my own management practice.
As managers and colleagues are we welcoming and rewarding creativity, even when it’s not “on our terms?” Or do we shoo it off in order to “get down to business?” In thinking about “safety” (physical or otherwise), do we set and communicate intentional parameters so that our teams can be free to imagine? Anyone who wants original ideas must be willing to look long, hard, and often at what they should start doing, stop doing, and do differently in order for creativity to thrive on its own terms.
You can follow Jason Blair on Twitter @epesArt for more of his insights into creativity in learning