Putting Visitors to Work

This summer, I am working on an artist research project around how artists use creative spaces, particularly with an eye towards CMA’s Studio. As an artist and educator, I am very interested in the ways a space can influence and inspire us. Here at CMA we have an amazing studio space filled with natural light, high ceilings, and a vast array of wondrous materials at our fingertips. My goal this summer is to study the ways in which staff and visitors use the space and to help cultivate new, self-sustaining systems of organization that will enhance all of our experiences in it.

This past Sunday I hosted my first Studio Workday.  I came in with the intent to do a bit of cleaning out of common-use supplies that were broken or otherwise unusable, and potentially pull in a few visitors to help. I was anticipating one, maybe two families to show interest. What I got instead was a constant stream of visitors curious and excited about the space, many of whom stayed to help. For two hours more than forty visitors helped to test markers and scissors, and to sort tissue paper, colored pencils and  Sharpie markers.

The end of the day: scissors tested and sorted by size.

Even more delightful and surprising were the conversations I was able to witness. One family spent more than an hour intently sorting colored pencils into warm and cool colors. As they sorted, conversation and discoveries flowed easily between them:

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“Ooo, Mom! Look at this color!”

“Hm. Is it yellow-green? Or more green-yellow?”

“Puwpow! I see Puwpow!” (interpret: purple)

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This family pondered whether black and white are cool or warm colors:
“Well, white is definitely cool, like snow…Black could be cool…yeah, like a shadow!”

Our first Studio Workday was an undeniable success. I will definitely be hosting more Visitor Workdays and Idea-days as this project evolves for a couple of reasons:

1)      because more brains = more ideas, and more ideas = better ideas

2)      to continue to foster the wonderful sense of ownership, care, and community from those who use our space the most.

Thanks everyone who stopped by!