Art can take on many forms. It can take the shape of a conversation between artist and observer. It can be shared as a captivating story or memory. It can present itself as the gift of an individual’s perspective bestowed upon their audience. The DoSeum, San Antonio’s Museum for Kids, sees art as a critical component of a well-rounded education and strives to incorporate methods of insightful observation into each of their educational exhibits and programs.
One such program is The DoSeum’s upcoming Artist in Residence – a partnership with professional, mid-career artists who aim to create contemporary works of art that travel creatively outside of the norm, provide a thought-provoking memento of the present, and ideally encourage social awareness and change. Through interaction with art exhibits, children will gain an appreciation of artistic processes and their products while reflecting on the STEM and literacy themes embedded throughout.
“DoSeum Artist in Residence helps us integrate arts, aesthetics, and interactivity in the most compelling and creative ways. The model is one of the most robust forms of arts integration into children’s museum cultures and one that fellow museums seek to replicate in other cities and settings,” explains Daniel Menelly, chief executive officer at The DoSeum.
The first ever Artist in Residence program, in 2017, debuted the work of El Paso native, Richard Armendariz, a professor at UTSA, known for his witty and provocative paintings on wooden panels. His Dream Keeper exhibit featured an installation featuring an oversized children’s bedroom tent and magical forest with interactive elements, intended to highlight the value of human individuality. As the pioneer resident, the sky was the limit for Armendariz in creating innovative ways to connect his art with the museum themes and setting the stage for the following years.
Last year’s tricentennial Dream Tomorrow Today exhibit featured artists Calder Kamin and Gregorio Mannino. With a focus on nature, consumption, and sustainability, Kamin and Mannino essentially transformed trash into treasure as a means to express the endless possibilities and benefits of recycling.
For the first time, this year’s program will feature two artists – the San Antonio-based, Amada Miller and Mark Menjivar. Both exhibits, although quite different in content, will rely heavily on participation and social engagement, asking viewers to observe with all senses and be fully present in the moment. Taking full advantage of this residency opportunity, selected artists are encouraged to utilize their showcase as an exploratory space to try things outside the parameters of their typical work, while hosting an open dialogue with their audience and referencing concepts transferable to the museum.
“We are particularly interested in artists willing to socially engage with children and guests in ways that push the boundaries of participation. These are experiences that allow children to make and reflect both scientifically and artistically with new subject matter. Both Amada Miller and Mark Menjivar are preparing exhibits that work on emotional levels while allowing children to practice a suite of critical thinking skills,” says Orlando Bolaños, Arts Educator at The DoSeum and leader of the Artist in Residence program.
Amada Miller’s Making Scents of Outer Space installation will take children on a multi-sensory expedition through space by way of sensory pods equipped with sights, sounds, and smells of the planets and stars. Miller’s work embodies a global vision of exploration and discovery, using scientific data, such as materials from NASA and The European Space Agency, to present a new way of looking at the world.
Mark Menjivar’s Birding The DoSeum exhibit will feature 12 aluminum boxes representing various native birds placed throughout the museum in locations these creatures would typically nest. Similar to an authentic “birding center,” visitors will pick up an information guide in the main lobby before embarking on their wildlife journey. Menjivar’s objective for this exhibit goes far beyond the nuances of birding as a hobby and actively encourages children to intentionally look, listen and explore their surroundings.
This year’s exhibits will be on display from Nov. 21, 2019 to Jan. 5, 2020. Through active participation and engagement, The DoSeum plans to take participants on a once-in-a-lifetime, sensory journey through space and sky with the unparalleled opportunity to experience the world from a whole new view.