By Julia Einstein
Coordinator of Youth and Family Programs
This week the Museum’s blog presents the perspective of Cleo Barker, Katarina Nixon, and Nyalida Deng, our Yourspace summer interns from Deering High School, Casco Bay High School, and Portland High School. Yourspace, a three-week studio art and Museum summer internship program, provides six of Portland’s most talented young artists with professional art educators, intensive art-making, and a paid internship to help them prepare for their futures. This week the interns assisted educators in collecting data as families experimented and tried out special activities during Family Days.
Family Fun and Summer Days at the Museum
By Cleo Barker, Deering High School
During the hot, humid days of summer, my siblings and I would have considered it a treat to be taken on a trip to the Portland Museum of Art with its air-conditioned galleries. If we happened to go on a Family Day, the half-price admission would have made it a treat for our parents as well! If we were to venture as far as the 19th-century room, our visit would have lead us to a gallery filled with blue labels of fun facts. One label, beneath two portraits of Mary Edwards and Julia Dearborn reads, “A serious expression was considered better back then – wouldn’t want to be considered silly. How long can everyone in your family keep a serious expression on their face?” After reading this label, I imagine my brother and I staring at each other, willing ourselves not to burst out laughing. I noticed families like my own enjoying those labels. It was fun to watch as they hunted for them, hoping to catch sight of one of the bright blue cards inviting them to take a longer look.
Making Art and Memories
By Katarina Nixon, Casco Bay High School
On Family Days, my job at the Museum is to observe families walking and interacting in different parts of the Museum. One of the areas has a drawing and reading table. This table is in one of the quieter galleries, because there is not a whole lot of artwork in it, so people go through it quickly. But throughout my observations of watching families, it seems like the drawing and reading table got the families to talk to each other more and made it the loudest out of all the stops. For instance, I had a mother with her young daughter and baby son come to that table. The whole time the daughter was telling her mother every single detail about what she was going to draw. “And how about that mom, do you think that is good?”, the daughter would ask. The mother would reply with either a nod or “Yes, that sounds like a really good idea.” The daughter would go back to her drawing, then a few seconds later, she would ask her mother the same exact question. It was nice for me, because it reminded me of when my sister was younger and would do the same exact same thing to me “Kat, does this look right?” or “Kat, do you like that?” Though at the time I thought the questions would never end, now I miss them. So being able to observe that little girl was a nice reminder. Though I observed a few more families at that table, who interacted with each other, I think the family with that little girl was my favorite.
By Nyalida Deng, Portland High School
On Family Days I was observing people while they listened to the Family Voices cell phone tour in the large Contemporary Art gallery on the third floor of the Museum. I took notes and wrote down their comments. There was one family with a little girl and her father and they did the cell phone tour for the Mussel Dress by Brian White. I liked how the little girl was taking the lead and asking questions. I tried the cell phone tour myself to hear what the families would be listening to. What I liked was that the people giving the cell phone tour sounded like they were talking to each other, as if they were having a conversation about the painting and sculptures while you listened. They asked questions to get you to think. I especially liked how they compared the painting to others nearby. The mother said, “The artist used scraps from her studio to make the sculpture.” She was talking about Untitled by Louise Nevelson. When the young girl said, “Even though the sculpture is black, you can see different shades of black made by the shadows.” I thought that was interesting because I hadn’t noticed that before.