Van Nuys High School visits “Made to Play”

Pamela Weir-Quiton’s “Made to Play” exhibition at the Center has seen a lot of foot traffic its opening week and we can’t help but enjoy the glee on visitor’s faces when they’re informed that they may ride the rocking horse. Adults cannot believe that they may comfortably sit on a full size rocking horse. We also welcomed a full class of art students from Van Nuys High School to visit the playful furniture and believe it or not, unlike the adults, many of these teenagers were initially very hesitant to ride the rocking horses. Only one student was willing to sit on the rocking furniture and the Center’s Educations Coordinator was determined to get few more students to sit on the horses before the trip was over.

From the moment the students arrived outside of the Center, they noticed the almost life-sized display of the tiger and girl in the window. When they walked in as a group they noticed that the artist has definitely used scale to create an interactive art space. Questions students mentioned to each other included: Do we touch, can we touch? Can we sit on the doll chairs? Can we open the animal chests? What are they for? What is burl? Why dolls?

In order to answer their many questions, we had Pamela herself give a brief introduction and then begin addressing all the questions and comments the students had. Students spent half the trip immersed in an intimate talk with the artist and the other half working on building blocks. Now, we often think of building blocks as child’s play, but we must know that they are so much more than that! They are the most basic and introductory learning tools for children and continue to introduce new concepts in art, math, and design. Our students were able to work with multiple species of wood in order to build their own animals and structures. Our students worked with character design, drawing from memory, perspective, 3D illustration, all before touching the blocks. Once we finished drawing and went over a quick group critique, the students then had to create figurative and abstract portrayals of animals using blocks of wood. They were taught the importance of designing and building their own products, creatures, storyboard characters. Most importantly, they learned how Pamela utilizes pieces of scrap wood to create new animals in her work.