Stories, Memories, & Imagination All in a Map - DuPage Children's Museum

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Stories, Memories, & Imagination All in a Map

May 17, 2019

Stories, Memories, & Imagination All in a Map

By Jess Graff, DCM Artist-In-Residence April – June 2019

I’ve been thinking a lot about place lately, about how places we go and grow up shape the way we think and feel about so many things. I’ve been thinking about the parks and forests, the schools, churches, art museums, and family members’ houses that were part of my childhood.

How I can still see in my mind, the best paths in my grandmother’s house to take to get to the kitchen, where I’d crack nuts out of their shells while sitting on the counter. Even now, a couple decades later, I could show you where my brother and I would dig up treasures of neat stones and animal bone by the slough that ran by our house. I could map the way to make Christmas cookies with the shiny gold pearl candies as the favorite decoration.

These abstract maps that we are making together at the museum contain all of these memories and places, but what is more amazing is how they also hold everyone else’s memories too. In small drawings and cut paper, they hold the story of a farm where a grandmother and her granddaughter spend time together. These marker lines, tell the story about three girls who are friends at school and who create whole worlds playing together. The pasted pieces of paper tell the stories of places people visited on vacation, the imagined creatures they’ve invented, and the homes they know and love.

These collages look like nowhere in particular and are also highly specific, all at once. They are all of us together, making, imagining, telling stories, and creating this community. When you add to these works of art, the stories that you and your family share become part of our collaborative story. None of us can make a community alone, but together we can make some pretty amazing things happen.


Join Jess in The Studio:
Saturday, May 25 – Sunday, May 26 | 9:30 – 2:30
Thursday, May 30 – Saturday, June 1 | 9:30 – 12:30
Saturday, June 8 – Sunday, June 9 | 9:30 – 2:30
Thursday, June 13 – Friday, June 15 | 9:30 – 2:30
Thursday, June 20 – Saturday, June 22 | 9:30 – 12:30


About Jess:

Jess Graff has been working with children and community programming in the Pacific Northwest for over 13 years. An artist and certified Playworker, Jess has participated in numerous gallery shows and residency programs at schools, art centers, museums, and a correctional facility. She has recently worked as the Artist in Residence Manager at Portland Children’s Museum, the Curator in Residence at Vancouver City Hall, and as a Teaching Artist with the Arts Center of Corvallis. Articles authored by Jess have been included in publications across the nation. She has also had the pleasure of presenting at arts and education conferences on the topics of creativity, collaboration, equity, and the power of play. She is passionate about creating equitable classroom spaces and artworks that invite people of all ages and backgrounds to collaborate and communicate together. As an artist with both Western European and Middle Eastern heritage, Jess draws inspiration for her artwork from her personal history, the natural world, and from moments of shared creative exploration with the families she teaches.