Thursday, August 22, 2013

Introducing "Shadow Playground" at the Children's Museum of the Arts

Starting today, visitors to the Children’s Museum of the Arts can participate in workshops with New Victory Teaching Artists Margot Fitzsimmons and Spencer Lott in conjunction with “Shadow Playground,” an installation that is part of the the ongoing exhibit Works in Progress.

As we prepared for this collaboration, I asked Jil Weinstock, CMA’s Director of Education and Curatorial Programming to share the inside scoop with our patrons:

Blake: First of all, thank you so much for taking some time to answer my questions. For someone who might not have ever visited CMA, what makes it different from other art museums?

Jil: The Children's Museum of the Arts is one of only a handful of museums in the country that is dedicated specifically to introducing children to authentic hands-on art experiences, both in our art-filled interactive museum and in the community. Uniquely, all of our educators are working artists, and they impart their individual skills and creativity to all museum visitors of all ages. CMA encourages involvement from visitors as young as one, and has activities geared to children ages 1-15 and their families. All of our work fulfills our mission to extend the benefits of the arts to children of all abilities and socioeconomic status, and to secure the future of the arts by inspiring and championing the next generation of artists and art lovers. 

B: I’m curious, why were you interested in collaborating with The New Victory? 

J: The New Victory is aligned with the mission of CMA in that you want to deliver performances and “in-theater engagement activities” to adults, children and families that encourage imagination, creativity and dialogue. Through your public programming, The New Victory designs experiences that allow visitors to learn and play together, acquire new skills and deepen their relationships to the arts. This is also at the heart of CMA’s philosophy.

B: What did you observe in New Victory Family Workshops that sparked an interest in our work and our Teaching Artists?

J: Certain performing arts, like costume design, set design and storytelling are expanding CMA’s programming. When my family participated in a few of the New Vic’s Family Workshops, it pushed the boundaries of what performance could be for our family and encouraged us to think outside our comfort zone. Additionally, I was struck by the fact that the New Victory Teaching Artists are working artists
just like the educators at CMA.

B: What can families expect when visiting CMA for "Shadow Playground"?

J: New Victory Teaching Artists Spencer Lott and Margot Fitzsimmons will be creating an interactive exhibit called “Shadow Playground” for CMA’s Works in Progress Series. The overall idea of the installation is that the artwork filling the gallery will be created by the shadows of the kids and families who visit and interact with the exhibit. The walls will be decorated with a variety of cardboard frames, created in different shapes and sizes. In the center of the room, LED flashlights on stands will be pitched at the frames, so that participants can stand in front of the light and populate the frames with their shadows to create works of art that fill the gallery walls. The frames will be titled, to give inspiration to the museum visitors in creating their shadow.

B: Are there any other exhibits or even public works of art that you’d suggest families visit before coming to CMA? Perhaps for inspiration before they create something of their own?

J: James Turrell has a wonderful new installation at the Guggenheim that I think is beautiful and inspiring. I would also suggest that the whole family visit Governor’s Island for a game of mini-golf on the Figment Festival’s free installation. Another exhibit worth visiting is The Art of Brick in Times Square (right near the New Vic!). For public art, Troutman Street in Bushwick is a must see, as is the graffiti mecca 5 Pointz in Long Island City.

For more information and details on the workshops at CMA, please visit

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