Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Heart Gallery Returns

Every year, hundreds of Rhode Island children are in state care, awaiting permanent families. The children are generally between the ages of 5 and 17 and many have emotional, intellectual and/or physical disabilities. Nearly all have suffered abuse or neglect. Some have been waiting for several years and have had multiple placements, resulting in numerous losses and separations.

Sixteen of these children are featured in the 10th annual Rhode Island Heart Gallery, an exhibit of professional portraits by local photographers on view in the Museum’s atrium walkway through September. A project sponsored by Adoption Rhode Island, the Heart Gallery has helped increase awareness of the need for loving adoptive homes for children in foster care since 2005.

The Museum also exhibited Heart Gallery photographs in 2007 and 2013, and staff felt – then and now – a powerful connection to the striking portraits and accompanying booklet, which features the heartfelt stories, hopes and dreams of the children pictured.

“I would love to be part of a large family with a mom and a dad and
siblings. I can be the oldest or youngest or in the middle, it really doesn’t matter,
I just want a family who wants me.”

It’s particularly compelling to have the display at the Museum because our Families Together program – a collaboration with the Department of Children, Youth & Families – works on behalf of children in foster care every day, providing therapeutic visitation to help court-separated families rebuild relationships.

All children need the love and support of a family, and adoption is only one of the ways that people can help.

Museum visitors can meet representatives from Adoption Rhode Island and learn more about adoption on Friday, August 21 from 5:00 - 7:30 PM; admission is free from 5:00 - 8:00 PM, sponsored by MetLife Foundation.

Friday, August 7, 2015

All Aboard the Fantasy Flyer!

Climb aboard this train traveling adventure through a new fantasy land located in our lobby display case.  Created by AmeriCorps members Elizabeth Boyer and Mary Rocha, the scenes incorporate a mixture of natural materials, handcrafted items and objects from the Museum's collections, in addition to a train kindly donated by Norman Meisner, father of Exhibits Director Robin Meisner.

“We put so much of ourselves into this piece, said Elizabeth. “It is the perfect mixture of our personalities and love of playfulness.  The world is such a marvelous place through the eyes of a child and we wanted to incorporate a hint of magic and fantasy in a seemingly realistic setting.”

The display features two wildly whimsical scenes, connected by a superhero-led train ride.  Trek through a feline-filled desert or visit the very friendly Yeti and his happy penguin friends.

“We wanted our display to instantly spark the imagination while inviting visitors to tell their own story based on what they see,” said Mary.  “Our goal was to not only get them to take a moment and look, but to feel inspired and creative.”

Make sure to check out this delightful display on your next visit to the Museum!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Game On!

This spring and summer, Museum visitors have taken a peek at Playful Pastimes in the atrium walkway window boxes – an assortment of silly scenes inspired by familiar games, from Go Fish to Twister, that invite visitors to think about their favorite ways to play. Created by AmeriCorps members Lucia Carroll and Savannah McMullen with guidance from Exhibits Director Robin Meisner and Exhibits Developer Jessica Neuwirth, the boxes are a mix of clever plays on names and visually appealing interpretations of popular games.

Savannah and Lucia's work in progress

On their process… 

Savannah: "Coming up with the games themselves wasn’t hard, it was more about what we could do with each game. We had a couple of misses where we ran into problems – we were planning on doing Candyland for a long time but we couldn’t get the textures right to make it look like candy."

Lucia: "Or even not just being able to think of an idea we felt was as successful or did the other boxes justice. We tried to be strategic about the games that we picked."

Savannah: "It took a lot of sketches to plan out the tiny space. We had to think spatially – how the whole box could be filled, front to back and top to bottom, without being too crowded. We did brainstorms on games and then sketches, and then different sketches and more brainstorms!"

Lucia: "For me, they were consistently in process, always being edited, until the due date. There’s always something more you can add to them, but I had to figure out what was feasible and go from there."

On materials…

Savannah: "It was mostly about what would work to make the game miniature – using astroturf for grass, wine toppers for tiny chairs, benches and thrones made out of popsicle sticks… We were really open to everything and the potential of materials."

Lucia: "I feel pretty proud that we made most of the stuff in the boxes – we made a concerted effort to make our miniatures and use found items."

“It’s fun to see parents and kids looking at them together,” Savannah concluded. “We wanted to make them straightforward enough to figure out but also enjoyable for everyone – something for the kids to look at that also amuse the parents as much as possible.”

They most certainly are – play along over the next few weeks and see many games you can figure out!