Gallery 6: Flight

Artist Interviews

By Taylore Kelly

GORDON CARLISLE

Q. Your work felt very nostalgic and dream like. The collage and acrylic medium really worked well together to form a united story. Does creating your work come easy to you?

A. I've been making collages since about 1973, the same year I graduated from San Francisco Art Institute. Back then, I was interested in converting these collages into etchings. Soon, I became less and less enchanted with the etching process, and wanted the collages to just exist as themselves.

I've always found the act of creating them very liberating. Initially, I try not to get too much in the way of where they seem to want to go. Then I jump in and help them get there. Creating collages on my own, I don't work with themes. But I've found Tess's (Gallery 6 coordinator) imposing of a theme a worthwhile challenge.

Here, she asked for two or three collages from me. However, the way I work, I like to lay out a couple of dozen at once and see where they take me. Then, it's a process of winnowing out the less effective ones in favor of the better. By the way, I'm often asked if these are made digitally. They're not. I still use old school materials like X-acto blades and spray mount adhesive.

Nearly all my collages include the use of acrylic paint to help blend the collaged elements to each other, so that the scenes become a little more seamless.

The nostalgia comes from my love of older published magazine elements. I collect all these in portfolios marked "Men", "Women," "Women with Appliances," "Animals." etc. Born and raised in the 1950's, these are the type of magazine elements I grew up with as Life, Look and The Saturday Evening Post came to the door. There's a beguiling innocence to the way those magazine models have been posed that speaks of another time. I enjoy juxtaposing this innocence with more contemporary situations.

Does it come easy? Sometimes. It's important to know when to stop. Sometimes there's technical difficulty assembling just a simple collage, what with complex cutting and gluing and pre-planning the sequence of events. And to be honest, after all that, some just don't cut it, and have to be shelved. In the end, I hope to have more successes than failures; at least the 2-3 Tess requested of me.

In my best dreams, I do fly, and it feels as natural as can be, my arms outstretched as I whoosh through rooms in the house, downstairs, out the door and over canyons and river valleys.

CORI CAPUTO

Q. Your work really seems to have a playful and dreamlike feeling of calm to it. I, as the viewer wanted to dive in and be a part of what was going on in your pieces. What are you trying to communicate with your art?

A. Because there are a variety of themes in the paintings I have in Flight, I would say their messages range from humor, expressing the simple, sheer joy of weightlessness, adventure, independence, escape, searching for answers or a world-view of a situation. However what I ut on the paper and what the viewer discovers about the art can be two different things depending on their mood when they view the work. It could be deemed as ridiculously silly or it could motivate them to cast off their old life and start fresh. That is the joy of Art, it can be many different things to many people.

TESS FELTES

Q. Each and every one of your pieces truly feels like the subject manner is a living, breathing animal. They are evocative and moving. What is your relationship with animals?

A. As a shy child growing up on a farm in rural Ohio, I can honestly say my first best friends were animals. Countless hours were spent surrounded by nature, observing and forming life-long bonds. I was always drawing in an attempt to capture and respond to the beauty and mystery of the natural world.

It was when I had the opportunity to learn scientific illustration through the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago that I was finally given the tools to hone my skills and to more accurately portray my subjects.

This has lead to an interesting and gratifying career creating illustrations for journals and books. Lately, however, my goal is to animate my subjects, concentrating on the illusion of movement. It is a privilege to exhibit these attempts at the Children's Museum.

LARRY ELBROCH

Q. What better way to see the world than from a hot air balloon? The imagery looks like layers and layers of other images and seems to tell a story. How has your work influenced your life?

A. I have had several careers, but my photographic work has enriched my life for two reasons. First, traveling to countries like, India, Nepal, Tibet, Myanmar and Bhutan has exposed me to various cultures centered on spirituality. These amazing experiences started my creative journey. Second, meeting these people enhanced my understanding of self. We are more the same than different and we should respect these differences.

BARBARA ALBERT

Q. This group of work really draws one’s eye in, with its metallic movement and beautiful composition. Did you choose the subject matter first as flying saucers and then create these pieces? What is your creative process?

A. The holographic movement of my circle paintings when lighted comes from silver acrylic paint applied thickly and scraped thin with a palette knife. I experimented with different size canvases and a variety of contrasting backgrounds to suggest environments for these reflective circles. Both the seemingly three dimensional round shapes and the flickering motion suggested flying saucers to me and I was delighted to show them in CMNH's Gallery 6 exhibit about Flight.

SUE PRETTY

Q. The combination of weaving and painting is such an innovative and beautiful display. This, united with the subject matter was quite breathtaking. How many different mediums do you work in?

A. The piece in the Flight exhibition, Soaring above the Fractured Landscape is a combination of digital images. The photo was manipulated in Photoshop: two variations of the image with a layer of text against the background. The images were then printed, cut apart and re-woven. I then glued these down and highlighted with gouache. I have 2 separate images: the background and the three trees in the foreground and an eagle, each with variations. I like the fact the reassembled image tends to not always perfectly align. This enhances the fracturing of the landscape concept.

My paper weavings are like sketches. Tapestry is a very slow process, which means I can work through images and thoughts with these. The different media feed each other. I think it is important to experiment to open new avenues of exploration. I have done quite a few paper weavings. I work on multiple drawings and paintings before starting a tapestry.

In general I work in tapestry, digital, multimedia, painting, beads, dying, photographs and sculpture. I have worked in oils, encaustic and quilting. I think it is all part of a whole – creative play.

KATE HIGLEY

Q. The pieces in this show have a lot of energy and seemed to have method of free-rein motion. The imaginary insects have an amazing frenetic energy that resembles real life, this combined with the colors and how the medium was used is quite spirited. Which is more important to you, the subject of your painting, or the way it is executed?

A. The subject of these works was part and parcel of how they were executed. They are actually monotypes, one-of-a-kind prints with the addition of acrylic paint and pastel. I began the print with the teeth several years ago and had it stored in a flat file. Every few months I would take a look at it and wonder what to do next. When the theme of the exhibition was announced, I knew it was time to finish the work. The initial energy was still there and I began to make silly details like the teeth, the feet and colored toenails. When it was completed, I knew I needed a companion. Initially, I began with something quite different, but when it was well started, I knew it was too static. I started over and copied the basic body shape of the first insect but with more vibrant colors. The proboscis was the final bit because I wanted a conversation between these two critters and it certainly seemed that he might not be able to fly with that appendage. So, the subject informs the execution. I love insects and in the past have done some highly realistic drawings of insects while viewing them through a microscope. A field zoology class in graduate school at Wesleyan introduced me to insects and the myriad ways they are assembled. These two pieces are purely imaginative, while knowing that insects often have "hairy" bodies and appendages like a proboscis. They certainly don't have toenails.


SUSAN SCHWAKE

Q. The pieces in Flight seem to almost tell a story. They also remind me of what music would look like if it were painted: a beautiful collaboration of birds, insects and flowers. Who and what are your influences?

A. My three paintings in the exhibit were painted in late winter when my thoughts turn to summer. They came on the heels of a February/March visit to my husband's parent’s home in Germany where spring comes at that time. They live in a tiny village surrounded by farm and woodlands and we do a lot of biking around the woods. My love of everything nature and working with children are my greatest influences. Nature never disappoints me and the freedom children have with art inspires me.

TAYLORE KELLY

Q. Your pieces, as well as the titles, are very poetic and dream-like. Did you create the two pieces specifically around the theme of Flight, and do you name your pieces before or after they¹ve been created?

A. Any gallery exhibition I am asked to be in I always create the work specifically for that individual show. I never use pre-existing work. I feel like I am cheating if I do that and am selling myself and the "soon to be born" work short. There is a lot of art wanting to be born and waiting to be created. That's why I am an artist, so any opportunity I have, I cowgirl up and create. It's an amazing way to be and I am quite fortunate to be attuned and wired this way. It's the same with commissions. I would never give someone something I had already done, I want my work to feel special and the person who has it to know it was specifically made for them, or the show. It feels important and vital to constantly make new art and not just back log and recycle my work and I am lucky and fortunate enough that most of my work is bought and goes to new homes. That's the point.

As for naming of pieces, I wait until I am done with the piece and ask it what it's name is. I sit down quietly with the piece and just start writing the words I see in my mind, after asking, and thus the title. It's really like creating beings for me. I don't know how to do it any other way. It's like giving life and with that comes responsibility and care. When it comes down to it, I just care a lot. I want that to show in everything I do, including my art.

NEVA COLE

Q. The natural world imagery is peppered throughout your work, and is quite eye-catching in its jeweled, vibrant colors and almost musical feel. Like one can "feel" your work, sometimes musically, sometimes with it's breathing….What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have when creating?

A. I work in a lot of different mediums and each medium seems to have it’s own routines. For the tile/alcohol ink pieces (the butterflies and birds), that series started with a lot of free experimentation with a fun new media. I stumbled upon a reference to alcohol inks online and after purchasing some, just played with it for about a year, off and on. I tried it on glass votives, textured tile, old porcelain plates from Goodwill, and then finally on the bright white bathroom tiles. Initially I wasn’t trying to make any kind of recognizable shapes. I just liked the way the paint interacted with itself. There weren't any patterns, which I love. I like the randomness. But inevitably, after the chaotic randomness is created, whether it’s with the alcohol inks or with the painted paper I use to make my paper collages, I always end up going back to very ordered and precise work to tie it together. For instance, with the tile pieces, I end up taking things a step further and adding and subtracting the ink until I’m left with some kind of animal form, be it butterfly, bird, octopus, etc. With the paper collage, I use a very precise routine involving tracing paper, exacto knives and ink. I actually enjoy using ink on the very edges of the paper to create the illusion that the piece is a painting or drawing, and not a collage of many hundreds of pieces of paper. For me, the combination of chaos or experimentation and precision and detail is really satisfying.

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Family Literacy Month Kick-Off

BabyStorytime Meredith01

By Meredith Lamothe

We’re always excited about literacy here at The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. Sure, we were thrilled that we were going to celebrate Family Literacy Month this November, but really—we focus on literacy all the time!

We recently hosted a well-attended Jumpstart To Read event; we host Books Alive! events several times a year where costumed characters bring favorite stories to life, and we have weekly Baby Storytimes as part of First Friends Playgroup, where we can teach early literacy skills to the caretakers of our youngest visitors. So a whole month dedicated to literacy? It was a no brainer!

What does family literacy month mean at CMNH?

It means that we’ll have literacy tips posted around that you can peruse as you play. We’ll have multiple activities throughout the week that highlight literacy—and how easy it is to promote and explore at home. We’ve also made up some great handouts, have several guest speakers planned, and will have weekly crafts and games in our Muse Studio—all related to literacy!

We also have our museum. Our museum is a literacy gold mine! Literacy goes so far beyond reading books. Yes, that’s an important part—but literacy, specifically family literacy, is so easy to incorporate into your daily life—or your museum visit!

When you’re playing with your kids in the submarine—make it a story. Does that story have a beginning, middle and end? DING DING DING! LITERACY ALERT! Choose a favorite color when you walk in the museum and then as you play, find that color in each of the exhibits! DING DING DING! Visit the Muse Studio and have your child explain to you the steps they’re taking in making a craft or playing with the magnet table! DING DING DING!

Any conversation, any question, any exploration can easily be made into a rewarding literacy experience. If you have questions, we’re happy to help.

We’re always excited about literacy!

About the Author: Lead Educator Meredith Lamothe has always been a book nerd, library lover and fan of acting out and telling silly stories. She has a blast hosting the Museum’s weekly First Friends Playgroup and has her Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science with a focus in Children’s Programming from Simmons College.

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Pizza - A Cautionary Tale

martykelley

by Marty Kelley

Pizza is dangerous.

I don’t think I’m telling you anything you don’t know here. We, as a people, have been warned since infancy about the myriad dangers of pizza. The warnings are a part of our collective knowledge. Don’t swim for an hour after eating. Don’t play with fire. Look both ways before you cross the street. Stay away from pizza. We know this.

And yet now, I find myself in the unenviable and dangerous position of being a judge at a pizza competition called Pizzafest. They might as well have called it DeathFest!

How can I be expected to survive an ordeal like this? We all know the dangers: hot cheese can jump off the top of a pizza and drop, like molten lava from a volcano, onto your lap. I will wear an asbestos apron, naturally, just like we all do when eating pizza.

What of the cheese that does not fall into your lap, but rather clings to the roof of your mouth searing and scalding your delicate palate until it seethes with angry blisters. I will make sure to dunk the pizza in ice water for at least 45 minutes, as we were all taught to do at our mother’s knee.

The toppings, though? What if a rogue pepperoni slides down my throat the wrong way? There are just so many things that could possibly go wrong. That’s why I’m judging this contest. I’m doing it for you. I’m doing it to protect you. If I judge this contest and eat this pizza, it will keep you safe.

And that’s what I want to do.

You’re welcome.


Marty Kelley, children's book author and illustrator, will be one of three judges at this year's PizzaFest Fundraiser and Online Auction. This is an all-you-can-eat (at your own risk) pizza-tasting fundraiser and all proceeds go to benefit the Children's Museum.

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Junior Science: Water

By Meredith Lamothe

Welcome to the Junior Science Explorers blog!

We will share here some of the projects, experiments and concepts that we explore in the Junior Science classes, which are designed for ages 3.5-5.

Keep learning, Keep exploring.


JUNIOR SCIENCE: Water!

Water is amazing. Everything that is alive depends on water. Water can exist in THREE different states. Some things float in water, while other sink. There's so much to learn and experiment with when it comes to water.

SINK OR FLOAT?

During class, we filled our sensory table with water and then each student chose items to place in the water. There were lots of items to choose from. We gently placed them into the water and saw if they sank or floated. We asked ourselves "What are the forces at work here?" The first was gravity—a cork falls to the ground when it is outside the water because of gravity, but stays afloat in the water because of another force–buoyancy! You can remember buoyancy by calling it “bouncy buoyancy” (say that five times fast). Buoyancy keeps things afloat or "bouncing" on the water.

EVAPORATION

The River Model in our Cochecosystem exhibit is a perfect place to talk about evaporation. You can visit any river, lake, pond or even a puddle to talk about how water evaporates thanks to the Sun and wind.

DENSITY

The concept of density goes well with the Sink or Float experiment. You can make glitter bottles to show that the water and the glitter have the same density, which is why the glitter stays afloat when the bottle is twirled.

SCIENCE STORYTIME

Fluffy and Baron by Laura Rankin is a great story to use to talk about how ducks float in the water and therefore have buoyancy.

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Science Explorers for Homeschoolers: Water!

By Meredith Lamothe

Welcome to the Science Explorers for Homeschoolers blog!

We will share here some of the projects, experiments and concepts that we explore in the Science Explorers for Homeschoolers classes, which are designed for ages 6-10.

Keep learning, Keep exploring.


Science Explorers for Homeschoolers: Water!

Water is amazing. Everything that is alive depends on water. Water can exist in THREE different states. Some things float in water, while other sink. There's so much to learn and experiment with when it comes to water.

SCIENTIFIC METHOD

Always start with the essentials! The Scientific Method is what scientists of every age use to learn things. There are four steps:

  1. Come up with a question.
  2. Observe and gather information to come up with a guess (hypothesis)
  3. Run an experiment to test your guess.
  4. Come up with an answer to your question.

For example you can use baking cookies as you go through the four steps.

  1. What will happen to this cookie dough when I put it in the over and bake it?
  2. Come up with a guess based on your observations.
  3. Experiment by putting the cookies in the oven.
  4. Come up with an answer to your question!

SINK OR FLOAT?

Try this, put an egg into a cup of water and observe what it does. Does it sank to the bottom? Does it float or have buoyancy (otherwise known as "bouncy buoyancy"? Now gradually add salt to the water. Eventually, after A LOT of salt is added, the egg will float to the top! When the egg was first put into the water it had a greater density than the water, so it sank. When salt was added to the water–it increased the density so that the egg was pushed up (buoyancy) and floated to the top of the glass.

Another great way of testing density is to make glitter tubes. We found that instead of floating or sinking, the glitter sailed along in the water, much like a feather floating in the air. This is because the glitter and the water have very similar density.

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Augmented Reality Sand Table

A New Exhibit Opens at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire

Children Shape the Landscape with an Augmented Reality Sand Table

A new exhibit has opened at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire and it combines all the fun of a sand table, with some interactive and responsive high tech imagery. Guests to the Museum can help shape the landscape with a new augmented reality sand table, installed in the ever-popular Dino Detective area.

The technology behind this new exhibit was developed by the UC Davis W.M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences (keckCAVES), as part of an informal science education project funded by the National Science Foundation. This hands-on exhibit allows guests to create topography models by shaping real sand, which is then augmented in real time by an elevation color map, topographic contour lines and simulated water, rain and even snow. The system was created to teach geographic, geologic and hydrologic concepts, but the exhibit takes on a different significance when placed in the Museum’s Dino Detective area.

“The sand table relates to the Dino exhibit well,” says Exhibits Director Mark Cuddy. “Geology looks at changes to Earth’s landscape over time, which helps paleontologists determine where to find fossils and, sometimes more importantly, where NOT to look for fossils.” In the rest of the Dino Detective exhibit, guests can dig for fossils, donning the protective eye gear and using the specialized tools that paleontologists would use to unearth these remains. “This entire exhibit is about exploration and questioning what we think we know. Why are the dinosaurs extinct? What can we learn from their bones? How does the water flow around the sand? What happens when I build a dam and then break the dam? Where does the water go?” These kinds of questions are answered, not through labels on a wall, but by the constantly shifting interactivity between the augmented reality component, the sand and the children.

“The best part about this exhibit is that it appeals to everyone. Young, old, new or repeat visitors: Everyone loves to play with the sand!” says Mark. “I’ve heard some great things while watching guests at the table. Things like ‘Woah! Look I made it rain!’ or ‘Let’s all push the sand into a big mountain in the middle of a lake.’ It keeps our guests constantly engaged and learning.”

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Here Comes the Sun

By Sarah Terry

Well, I am thrilled to report that the first session of our inaugural Maker Club at Woodman Park Elementary went wonderfully! It was so much fun, the kids are a blast to work with, and by the end of the hour, we had ten working Artbots bumping their ways around the room! One of our second grade students told her teacher afterwards, “You know, I never thought I would ever make a robot... and then I did!”

We had three-legged ArtBots, four-legged ArtBots, double ArtBots, BotBots (bots without marker legs, of course!), and more! It was quite the buzzy creative party!

And there's only one way for a Maker Club to celebrate this success... by making more stuff!

Our next hands-on project involves one of my favorite ways to combine art and science – photography! I'm probably on the edge of the last generation that remembers using film cameras. I was just getting old enough to learn how to load the film myself when digital cameras became popular and quickly took hold of the market. Digital cameras are fascinating in their own right and have made photography more accessible than ever, but my mother is a photographer and I'll always have a soft spot for film... and the chemistry you can learn by understanding how it works!

There are many types of film that use different chemicals to capture different colors of light, but we're going to be working with cyanotypes!

Cyanotypes, sometimes called sun prints, were invented in 1842 by Sir John Herschel. Does that name sound familiar? Herschel's father William is the man who discovered Uranus! John Herschel continued his father's work in astronomy – he named seven of the moons of Saturn, and four moons of Uranus – but he also made large contributions to the field of photography.

Cyanotypes were originally used to reproduce notes and diagrams (their bright color is where we get the term blueprint from!). The first person to use the process to make photographs was Anna Atkins, an English botanist and friend of John Herschel. She is considered by some to be the first female photographer! She used the process to document different kinds of algae and seaweed, and published a book called (fittingly), Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. Technically, what Atkins created were photograms. Photograms are made by contact printing – she put pieces of algae directly on the paper and exposed it to create her images!

We're going to be making some photograms of our own today!

Now, I bought already-treated cyanotype paper film, but you can actually make the film yourself! This process involves chemicals, so you'd want to make sure you have goggles, gloves, a mask and a well-ventilated area to work in! This article documents the process, and the supplies you'd need.

Materials:

  • Sunprint paper
  • Supplies to make your image. Now this could be all kinds of materials – I cut designs out of paper, and used some mesh, but you can use leaves, shells, Legos, anything you think has a cool outline!
  • Plexiglass sheet
  • Plastic bin
  • Vinegar (or lemon juice!)
  • Water

Now cyanotypes are made through a chemical reaction with UV or ultraviolet light! The chemicals in the paper – ammonium iron (iii) citrate and potassium ferricyanide – react with UV light to create an insoluble blue dye! Then you develop the film in water and a little vinegar, and your print is finished!

To begin, make sure that you are in a room where sunlight can't reach you! You don't want any UV light to touch your print before you're ready. Luckily, indoor lights aren't powerful enough to produce ultraviolet light, so you don't need to work in a darkroom, like you would for ordinary film.

Get the complete step-by-step instructions here in a handy dandy printable PDF

Check out this video to see the process in action!

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Storytime: Nursery Rhymes

By Meredith Lamothe

Hi there! I am the Lead Educator at The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire and also the host of Baby Storytime. I have a Bachelors Degree in Theatre from The University of Southern Maine and a Masters of Library and Information Science with a focus in Children’s Services from Simmons College.

I’m passionate about early literacy and excited to share information with you about our weekly Baby Storytime stories and activities. Join us for the next Baby Storytime which meets every Wednesday in the Museum's Primary Place exhibit at 9:45am.


NURSERY RHYMES

We started with "Open Them, Shut Them," which we do every week. I thought I’d post the words here for anyone who doesn’t know this wonderful song/finger play.

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Give a little clap clap clap!

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Lay them in your lap

Creep them, creep them
Creep them, creep them
Right up to your chin chin chin!

Open up your little mouth…But do not let them in!

I love that one!

The reason we do this rhyme every week and why I will commonly use the same rhymes/songs/finger plays is because repetition is so important for babies and for early literacy! Even though we, as adults, may get tired of hearing the same rhyme/song over and over again–babies enjoy hearing the same things over and over again. They gain familiarity with the actions and words and are able to play along. They’re also learning vocabulary from those songs and rhymes and each time we sing the song or say the rhyme it is a little different and babies will always be getting something different out of our repetitions!


LITERACY TIP

Our literacy tip today is about rhythm in rhymes or songs. Babies are learning to speak our language just as we would have to learn to speak a new language–to many of them our words sound like big long strings of sounds with no clear words or phrases. When we bounce babies on our laps while singing a song or saying a phrase or when we clap out words during a rhyme (this was tricky!) we’re helping to get them ready to read by knowing that a number of different words make up a sentence which makes up a story or song.

The rhyme that we clapped to was “To Market”
Here are the words:

To market, to market to buy a fat pig
Home again, home again, jiggety-jig

To market, to market to buy a fat hog,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog

This is another fun rhyme about Rain!

Rain on the green grass,
And rain on the tree;
Rain on the house top,
But not on me!

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