Highly Hands-On

Family Programs at the High Museum of Art

Nellie Mae Rowe: At Night Things Come to Me July 2, 2014

Filed under: Favorite artist,General — erinkdougherty @ 6:29 pm
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Next time you visit the museum, go on a little scavenger hunt. You might be surprised at what you find!
Go up to the fourth floor of the Stent Wing. From the elevator, move straight ahead weaving throughout the maze of interesting furniture and contemporary jewelry. See that big reflective loopy chair? Turn to your left. If you see a life-size metal horse, you are on the right track. Once past the horse, turn right at the pink angel on the wall. This gallery has a smaller room within the room. Once you have found your way into its center, you have found your prize!
The colorful pieces in this room are the works of folk artist Nellie Mae Rowe and they can be great way to engage your little ones at the museum. Rowe was a self-taught artist working in materials that kids can truly understand: crayon, colored pencil, and even bubble gum! She portrays creatures with features of different animals, houses, and people in a way that children of all ages can relate to. Her imagination was vibrant and untamed. In one drawing, whose title gives this exhibition its name, she drew herself in her bed at night with the creatures of her imagination swirling about her head.
A fun activity based on the works of Rowe would be to have your kids draw pictures of their dreams and creatures of their endless imaginations.


April 24, 2012

Filed under: Favorite artist — erinkdougherty @ 7:00 pm

Hello Families,

It’s the final week of Picasso to Warhol and it’s getting a little sad to think about these amazing works of art leaving Atlanta. After, all they have been hanging in the High’s galleries since October. So as we get ready to say our goodbyes, I asked the education staff which piece was their favorite and why. Here is what I found out:



My favorite piece is Maquette for Nuit de Noël by Matisse. I love the bright colors and interesting shapes. Matisse sat in bed and created paper cut-outs like this one towards the end of his life, when he was too ill to stand at an easel and paint. How inspiring!

– Emily Hermans, Coordinator of School Programs


I love the Calder jewelry case. Alexander Calder made his first piece of jewelry as a child for his sister’s dolls (what an awesome brother!). He continued to make bracelets, necklaces, pins, and buckles throughout his career for his friends and family. We are lucky to have these pieces that he made for his loved ones and not necessarily for display in a museum.

-Nicole Cromartie, Coordinator of Museum Interpretation


My favorite work of art in the exhibition is Calder’s Snow Flurry I. Calder is my favorite artist in the exhibition because his work is so joyful, and Snow Flurry I is no exception. I love how he can turn simple, white circles and wire into softly drifting snowflakes. Whenever I’m up in the exhibition I try to take a few moments to stand in front of it and watch it slowly twist in the gallery.

– Christina Westpheling, Family Programs Assistant


Carve out some time this week to come by and pick your own favorite piece from Picasso to Warhol.


Don’t miss out!




Who’s YOUR favorite artist? September 30, 2011

Filed under: Favorite artist,General — erinkdougherty @ 3:19 pm

Lauren Whitton is our fabulous lectures assistant. I asked her to think of who her favorite artist is in the High’s collection. Keep reading to find out who she chose and why:

I would have to say that the photographer Cindy Sherman is one of my favorite artists in the High’s collection.  There is a really special photograph of hers that is in the museum’s Works on Paper room.  Although the room is locked most of the time, you can steal a look at the piece through the glass doors on the Lower Level of the Wieland Pavilion.

The piece is one from her “Untitled Film Stills” series, which looks like a snapshot from a 1950s era black and white movie.  In this series she portrays herself in different situations that require the viewer to identify traditional female stereotypes.  But, another interesting part of the series is that the viewer is also inclined to use their imagination while looking at these photographs and create a story around the images.

The reason why I like Cindy Sherman as an artist is because she takes on a different role each time she takes a photograph.  She shoots completely alone in her studio, so she is the director, the make-up artist, the hairstylist, the wardrobe consultant, and the model. She is always in her pictures, but it is not Cindy Sherman we see.  It is a character she has created.

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still, 1979

See if you can find Sherman’s photograph on your next visit to the High.

Happy hunting,



Who is YOUR favorite artist? April 8, 2011

Filed under: Favorite artist,General — erinkdougherty @ 2:04 pm

Today we’re talking with the smart and creative person behind the public programs department at the High. Virginia Shearer is my blogging partner as well as the Associate Director of Public Programs. She’s picked a great artist to feature as her fav from the High’s permanent collection. Read on for the details:  

Erin asked me to choose my favorite work of art in the High’s collection and to write about it for the blog. She asked a loooong time ago but I just kept putting it off. I love so many pieces in our collection I had a hard time choosing just one to write about. But the other day I was preparing to give a tour of the Museum to some 4 year olds and as I thought about what would be most appealing to children this age, I immediately thought about the Reverend Howard Finster and his Paradise Garden.

I have loved Howard Finster’s work since I was a teenager and I just knew that this group of pre-school children would appreciate his use of recognizable found objects like lanterns, marbles, broken tiles, and of course the bicycle. I also thought they would love his use of color and the many funny, smiling faces and winged people you encounter when you begin to really look at a Finster.  And you know what ….I was right! We had such a great time looking at the pieces of Paradise Garden that are on display in the Folk Art collection and it reminded me of how proud I am to work at a museum that had the foresight to preserve this wonderful treasure created by a truly visionary Georgia artist.

If you don’t know who Howard Finster is, dust off your old copy of R.E.M.’s album Reckoning. He did the cover art when he was not working tirelessly on his monumental environmental artwork that came to be known as Paradise Gardens. It was located in Pennville, GA and it was an amazing sight to see in its day. I can still remember how magical it felt to finally see his wonderful installation in real life after reading about it in books and talking about it incessantly with friends. And if I start to forget that magical feeling, I can wander up to the skyway level of the Stent Family Wing and find it again.

Thank you to Virginia for sharing your favorite work, and next time you’re at the High make sure to visit Howard Finster’s work!

Until next time,



Who is YOUR favorite artist? October 15, 2010

Filed under: Favorite artist — erinkdougherty @ 10:59 am

Today I asked our school programs expert, Emily Hermans, to weigh in on who her favorite artist in the High’s collection is. Read on to find out how Emily responded:

It is really difficult for me to choose my favorite artist; there are just so many! One of my favorite artists on display at the High is Alfred Jensen.  If you’ve visited the Museum, you’ve surely seen The Great Pyramid, his enormous painting that is on view on the Skyway Level. 

This painting combines two things I love: bold colors and ancient Egypt. What does it have to do with ancient Egypt?  Look at all of the little dashes and curvy marks—those are the same symbols that the ancient Egyptians used for numbers.  And the concentric rectangles?  They look like an aerial view of a pyramid.

As a museum educator, I am always thinking about the elements of art: line, shape, color, and texture.  This painting utilizes all four of these to great success.  How many different types of lines can you see?  How many colors are there?  Is the texture rough or smooth? 

Alfred Jensen worked in a very methodical, mathematical way. The colors, shapes, and patterns are mesmerizing. Take a long look at this painting the next time you are at the High, and your eyes may start to play tricks on you!


Who is YOUR favorite artist? August 26, 2010

Filed under: Favorite artist — erinkdougherty @ 2:34 pm

For today’s installment of “Who is YOUR favorite artist?” I spoke with Courtney McClellan, a lover of art supplies and most importantly an artist herself. Below you will find out more about her favorite artist in the High’s collection:

My favorite artist is Joseph Cornell because he reminds us that collecting is an art form. When I make art I gather materials from all sorts of places: nature, my closet, a thrift store, even the recycling bin. Joseph Cornell liked to make art this way too.

When I look at the boxes he made I get to think of faraway places, time long passed, and the people who these things belonged to. In his boxes are found materials like birds, balls, paper dolls, newspapers, and parts of broken clocks. By making these collections he reminds us that beautiful things are around us all of the time, even things we don’t initially see as beautiful.

 I try to imagine why Cornell put these particular items together. Are they revealing a secret? Do they tell a story? Are they a visual poem? Could they be someone’s treasures, or are they a mini-museum of forgotten things?

I like Joseph Cornell because he makes me wonder.

If you would like to see one of Joseph Cornell’s “treasure boxes” visit gallery 404 at the High Museum of Art.


Who is YOUR favorite artist? June 26, 2010

Filed under: Favorite artist — erinkdougherty @ 3:21 pm

For today’s installment of “Who is YOUR favorite artist?” I spoke with Jenna Madison, a museum education superstar. Below you will find out more about her favorite artist in the High’s collection:

Ok… my favorite artist in the High’s collection is Gerhard Richter. I love Richter because he is so incredibly versatile. He’s an amazing draftsman—he can reproduce an image from a photograph in oil paint with all the detail and clarity of the original. But it’s his abstract work that moves me the most. He never ceases to experiment with the possibilities of his medium and frequently invites the element of chance into his painting process.

Among my favorite works are those from Richter’s Abstract Painting series begun in the mid-1980s, including the beautiful reddish/purple/blue canvas called Abstract Painting (849-2) in the High’s collection. To make this painting, Richter spread the paint randomly across the surface, using a squeegee-like tool to smear and blend the colors until they produced a brilliant, multi-tonal effect. This particular process, and the resulting layers of color, has always reminded me of finger painting. It’s very spontaneous and you get the sense that Richter uses his brushes and tools much in the same way that children use their fingers and hands to draw channels in the paint by applying pressure to the wet surface.  It’s simply wonderful…