CMA Blog

Artists Invoke Wonder at CMA


Eight Columbus artists contributed their talents, skills, and imagination to help us inspire awe and promote a spirit of play in the new Wonder Room.

We are proud and delighted that these artists took a risk along with us, that they shared our passion for the peculiar and the uncanny; that they embraced our vision for this quirky gallery that merges surprise and mystery, play and great art.

It feels really good to be part of this community of artists who are working on this special project. To be valued by the Museum as an artist, is great!” - Susie Underwood, Columbus artist, pictured above                                                     

Early in the planning my colleague and collaborator Jeff Sims and I made a decision to partner with local artists for this project. Why? Because we value the way artists think, imagine possibilities, and take risks.  And we value the depth of creative talent right here in Columbus. We believed that with local artists we could orchestrate just the right mix of eccentricity, wonder, and play.

These talented artists did not disappoint. Their diverse creations are critical to the unique Wonder Room experience. When you visit the space, you will discover:

  • a life-size, mixed-media Tree of Wonder by Zepher Potrafka
  • five meticulous, miniature installations created by Susie Underwood,Caitlin Lynch, and Sharon Dorsey
  • many phantasmagoric costumes designed and handmade by Heidi Kambitsch of Openheartcreatures
  • a captivating graffiti wall painted by Giovanni Santiago
  • an inventive Storytelling Adventure Game designed and hand-painted by Brian R. Williams
  • the most wondrous Spalted Maple Looking Glass and Marked By installations by Dorothy Gill Barnes
Artist by Brian R. Williams

Storytelling Adventure Game by Artist Brian R. Williams

Some of these creations are designed to be touched, manipulated, and played with.  Others – more fragile works of art – are placed strategically in places where visitors will discover them, unexpectedly. Their magic is experienced by peeking and looking and marveling.

Miniature Installation by Artist Dorothy Gill Barnes

Artist Dorothy Gill Barnes

Since the Wonder Room re-opened in December, I have been observing, conversing, and playing with many visitors in the space. I witnessed two adult woman engrossed for more than an hour with the Storytelling Adventure Game.  I gather countless visitor drawings of the Tree of Wonder.  And most recently, I watched as a very young boy bounced from one miniature installation to another with glee –pointing, remarking, and then very purposefully, photographing them.

Wonder Room installation at Columbus Museum of Art

Young boy photographs installation by Susie Underwood

If you haven’t had a chance to visit the newly designed Wonder Room, I encourage you to make time to check it out. Discover for yourself the awe-inspiring creativity hatched right here in Columbus.

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About Merilee Mostov

Merilee Mostov is the Chief Engagement Officer for CMA
Posted in Visitor Stories and Conversations

2 Responses to Artists Invoke Wonder at CMA

  1. Barbara Sweney says:

    Great ideas Merilee and Jeff. Great to see what the collaboration with local artists can produce. I am anxious to down to CMA and play.

  2. Adrianne B says:

    Today was our first visit to the New Wonder Room with our 4 year old daughter. She was immediately drawn to the Tree House, which is a nice analogue to the Fort from the Room’s previous incarnation. She also liked creating a tiny windmill to place in a niche in the Woodland Cottage. I made a tiny chair.
    Visually, I adored the changing light sculptures on the ceiling and the attention to detail in the installations. I thought that the Tree of Wonder, though beautiful, was out of place in a room of hands-on work, cordoned off in the middle, serving more to awkwardly break up the space of the room than to inspire. Perhaps it would be better suited to the northeast corner of the room.
    I miss the adult seating area from the previous Wonder Room (don’t miss the television, though!); it was a nice place to sit at length while allowing my child the ability to explore on her own and with peers.
    That said, I felt uncomfortable using the work-table seating for leisure while so many others wanted to sit at the tables and craft/draw/play. So I opted to stand and observe while my daughter was engaged in play with peers, and as a result, we did spend less time in the space than on previous visits. Please consider adding some ‘sideline’ seating for the adult visitors!

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