Friday, May 31, 2013

PlayWatch: Water Play

This story was shared by Experience Coordinator Meg Sullivan.

During the hustle and bustle of daily life at a children’s museum, it's nice to take a break every now and then and remind myself why I’m here in the first place. Recently in Water Ways, I watched a young girl – about 4 years old – actively engage in in pretend play with “loose parts” that typically have other functions.

One of the many cool aspects of Water Ways is an array of different sized pipe pieces that allow children to construct various fountains, and it's amazing what some kids create. While at first the girl started playing with the fountain parts the “right” way, soon her imagination took hold.

A fountain top first became a cup that contained a hot beverage. She walked around blowing on it and offered some to her father, cautioning him first how hot it was. Then she took some of the little pipe pieces, filled those with water, and poured them back into the large fountain top. As she stirred it with a smaller piece, she muttered to herself about her concoction. Once she tired of pretending it was a beverage, she started using the fountain head in other ways. She emptied it into the waterfall, into the plastic boats, and finally into the water table itself. She stirred her mixture again in the water table with a little pipe piece.

This pretending went on for the full hour I was there and I rather wished I knew what she was picturing. Working at a children’s museum allows me to relive the imagination and wonderment that we all felt as children!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Image & Illusion

Image & Illusion, the most recent display in the Museum’s atrium walkway, invites visitors to peek into the 17 window boxes to discover a range of representations of different animals. Created by Museum intern Robin Hayashi (with guidance from the exhibits team), the boxes feature illusionary images that shift with perspective between photographs and graphic depictions.

Robin, who has worked at the Museum since January 2010 and is graduating from RISD this spring with a degree in graphic design, described her inspiration and process.

Each box has three different images of the same animal: one photograph, one graphic and one silhouette. Walking by each box, the image changes, providing an exciting and playful transformation that capitalizes on the ramp's natural use as a walkway.

As a graphic designer, I have always been inspired by different ways of representing the same idea. After figuring out how the folded paper illusion works, I collected images of animals, ranging from familiar farm animals to spectacular sea creatures. Then I created colorful graphics that correspond to each photograph but show the animal in an alternate view, perhaps just the animal's face if the photograph depicts the whole body, or vice versa. I also developed a very simple silhouette, much a logo, of each animal.

I wanted to show the ways different arrangements of shape and color can communicate the same thing. A photograph of five pigs in a barn, a simple pink pig nose and a the outline of a pig's shape all say, "Pig!" I hope that visitors are inspired by the simple magic of images on folded paper – perhaps even enough to make their own! 
Image & Illusion will be on display through June, so come see for yourselves!