Thursday, July 23, 2009

Artist's Birthday!

Hey everyone! Recently I sat down with Mark Dilks, Arts Coordinator at Please Touch Museum, to talk about another Artist's Birthday:

Hey Mark! Please Touch Museum celebrated Alexander Calder’s birthday yesterday. Can you tell me more about him?

Mark: I would love to, Pinky! Alexander Calder was born in the year 1898, in Lawson, Pennsylvania, now part of Philadelphia. His mother was a painter and his father was a sculpture. Even though both of his parents were artists, Alexander first went to school for engineering. In 1923, shortly after he awoke to see a rising sun and a full moon in the sky at the same time, he moved to New York and enrolled in the Arts Students League. Three years later, he moved to Paris where he started to make sculptures out of wood and wire. Wire fascinated him and he continued to explore the 3-Dimensional line for the rest of his artistic career.

Pinky: What materials can I use to try this at home?

Mark: You can explore this technique at home by bending pipe cleaners, Wikistix® or Bendaroos® into shapes. You can use Styrofoam or a putty, play dough would work fine, as a base for the line sculpture.

Pinky: That sounds really neat! What other types of sculptures did Calder make?

Mark: In 1932, Calder made his first kinetic (moving) sculptures which his friend Marcel Duchamp called “mobiles.” What is a mobile? Jeann-Paul Sartre put it like this, “a ‘mobile,’ one might say, is a little private celebration, an object defined by its movement and having no other existence. The object is thus always half way between the servility of a statue and the independence of natural events; each of its evolutions is the inspiration of a moment.”

Pinky: Can families make kinetic sculptures at home too?

Mark: Sure can! You can use regular house hold items to make your own mobiles. To make a hanging mobile, suspend a coat hanger and, using string, wire, pipe cleaners, etc. attach and, or hang other objects from the coat hanger. Observe how adding elements to the coat hanger changes its balance, the way it hangs. Mobiles are interesting art objects because they are constantly moving. Have your child explore basic science by making the mobile move through various techniques. Have them push the mobile with their hand. Air, either the wind or your breath, can move the mobile as well. Shine a light on the mobile as it moves and see how the shadows dance. Use your imagination!

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We're all about learning through play.

Join Pinky, one of Please Touch Museum's resident puppets, on an inside look into all the fun, educational things happening at Philly's Children's Museum. This blog is not just about what we do at the museum, but about the educational philosophy behind why we do what we do.