By Laura Lynne, DCM Artist-In-Residence
When we went into quarantine in March of 2020, something inside of me knew it wasn’t going to be only two weeks long. My artist-in-residence program at DuPage Children’s Museum was scheduled to start on April 1, 2020. I had already signed the contract and was so excited.
However, when quarantine was announced I worried that I might not have a chance to make art with the kids after all. Then, I saw a YouTube video by children’s book author and illustrator, Mo Willems. The video was filmed in his home studio, was very casual with a simple art project and beautiful words of comfort for the children. It was very inspiring. It led me to believe a virtual collaborative art project with the kids might still work, but with the help of technology.
I emailed the Arts & Maker Specialist in charge of the artist-in-residence program, Dustin Thacker, and let him know I could do the residency virtually if the Museum wanted. It was so exciting when they agreed! I redid the proposal and worked with Dustin over the next few months to plan the virtual version of the program.
Once everything was planned, I got to work filming six instructional videos with a few words of hope scattered in. Each video has multiple art projects that led to the kids creating part of a large collaborative artwork. The Museum chose to use an excellent program called Bublup to host the program and for the families to submit the artwork.
A few children got started on the projects right away and submitted art to the program, but most of the art was created during the four live Zoom workshops we planned. We started with a creativity warm-up, then learned a little bit about the native plants and animals we were creating, then got to work on the art projects. As is the philosophy of DCM, all the projects were open ended to allow for kids to explore the art materials and grow their creative minds.
After the workshops, I was left with a wide variety of very beautiful artworks. As you might expect, some of the videos and subjects were more popular than others so I did some adjusting of the initial design to be able to showcase as much of the art as possible. This is something that I normally would not do in any commission work. However, at the start of the program Dustin Thacker was very clear that I had permission to be fully flexible in the final design in order to let the kids’ art determine the final outcome, which is great!
To create the final mixed media collage, I first painted the background with clouds using acrylic paints. Next, I adjusted the pixels and sizes of the kids’ art, then printed them out on archival paper with pigment inks to preserve the colors. Some of the kids’ art was slightly altered, for example the three creatures Photoshop-ed into the windows of the rocket. (My 8-year-old suggested that one!) Then, images were cut out using a scissors, along with my own designs, and collaged onto a 36×48 inch wood panel. View a short video of the process. Look closely and you’ll see hand cut burr oak leaves, an astronaut, a bird eating a worm and a squirrel who doesn’t want to share!
Thank you so much to DuPage Children’s Museum, especially Dustin Thacker, and also the marketing and video editing department for taking on this project! It was a lot of work during an already upside-down time.
Thank you to all of the families who participated in the program and submitted artwork! I had so much fun working with all of the kids and creating with the incredible art that was submitted. I hope the visitors at the Museum will enjoy looking at this collaborative collage art for many, many years!
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Laura Lynne is best known for creating boldly colored and whimsically designed mixed media art and murals. She is inspired by the immersion in nature she had growing up in Wisconsin, fairy tales, and song lyrics. Her art training shows a sharp eye for color theory and elaborate compositions. Laura Lynne uses materials like acid-free and lignan-free metallic papers, Golden brand acrylic painted papers, and her own photography archivally printed for her mixed media art. For her murals, she uses high quality acrylics with lighfastness so the colors stay vibrant. It is very important to her that art be accessible and affordable to all people so she also creates archival giclee reproductions of her originals. Find out more at www.LauraLynneArt.com.