Monday, June 15, 2009

Creature Feature!

If you’ve visited the Museum recently, you’ve probably noticed the newest additions to Play Power: the final two of three colorful “creature columns” that flank the exhibit’s entrance. Children and adults alike are enchanted as they rotate cubes featuring different creatures to form a – wolf-owl-aroo? sea-maid-icorn? – and other never-before-seen critters.
We are incredibly fortunate to have had Jamestown artist Jillian Barber design 12 imaginative animals – a mix of real and mythical – to add rich texture and beauty to our newest exhibit. Jillian’s whimsical work expresses her love of nature and often includes animal imagery. She traditionally works in ceramics and sculpted tiles for these columns from modeling clay, which were recast in a lightweight, durable material by exhibit designer Chris Sancomb.

(Photos by Claude Verdier)

The process was lengthy – it took hundreds of hours to create the original artwork, make rubber molds, recast the creature parts, painstakingly paint each animal, treat the tiles so they can be touched by thousands of hands, and install the completed columns. Below, see a selection of photos taken throughout the process. (Thanks to Chris and Jillian for their vision and determination to see this project through – and to Jillian, graphic designer Valerie Haggerty-Silva, “paint master” Margaret Middleton, and RISD work-study student Hillel O’Leary for their painting prowess & persistence!)

The Museum has always prioritized the quality and beauty of our learning environments and we’ve regularly worked with local artists to fill our building with vibrant and detailed artwork. What’s great about these new columns is that they give kids a uniquely hands-on experience with art. Look for the columns next time you visit and see what creatures you can concoct!

The RISD-trained crew of artists (Jillian, Chris, Valerie, Hillel and Margaret) celebrate the finished columns.

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