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.


What’s Your Job at the High? June 21, 2014

Filed under: General,What's your job at the High? — erinkdougherty @ 6:39 pm
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I am proud to introduce to you a V.I.P in our world of art education, Deirdra Alexander! She is on the front lines of our Toddler Thursday program and you can often find her working with various school programs and leading art-making workshops.  She’s an absolute whiz in the world of exploring funky and fun art projects as well as being super kind, insightful, and dedicated.


Q: How long have you worked at the High?

My first day working at the museum was during the opening of the new Renzo Piano expansion in 2005. It was a crazy and fun day with art making activities in the workshops downstairs, outside in the piazza, and even on the sidewalk on Peachtree Street. There were people everywhere.

Q: What is it that you do at the Museum?

For our Toddler Thursday program I first walk through the museum and find a work of art to inspire an art making activity. I pick out a few points of interest from the work for an adult visitor to share with their young toddler, encouraging them to look deeper.  I decide on a project using a variety of art mediums — paint, clay, stamping, collage, and even recycled objects. I then choose the book that will be read to the toddlers throughout the day. I also work with preschool, elementary, and middle school students who take a docent led tour through the museum and participate in an art making activity. I especially like working in the Afterschool Program which provides ten weeks of art enrichment learning for 3rd through 5th graders who attend designated Atlanta Public Schools.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

That I don’t even think of it as work. When I was in first grade, the teacher asked us to go home and think about what kind of job we would want to do all day long and every day… a daunting thought for a five year old. The only thing I could see never getting tired of was making collages. We had this great big tray of stuff the teacher would set before us and the possibilities seemed endless. So basically I do have my dream job!

Q: What is your favorite work of art in the permanent collection and why?

My favorite work to talk with students about is Untitled, by David Adamo. It is a tiny red door in our Contemporary Galleries. Young children amaze me with their detailed observations and curiosity about how to get inside the door and what could possibly be on the other side… pizza, a princess, all the candy in the world, even a family of elephants may be hiding behind that small red door.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not working at the Museum?

I also teach art at a local preschool. When I am at home I try to make some time for my own painting and also enjoy being outdoors. Otherwise I spend a lot of time reading and try to see an occasional foreign or art film.


Junk Sculptures June 4, 2014

Filed under: General,Projects at Home — erinkdougherty @ 7:43 pm
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You know that drawer that you have in your house that has somehow accumulated years of paperclips, pen caps, broken rubber bands, and discarded bottle caps? You know the one.  Instead of being ashamed, put it to good use!  These seemingly worthless objects are the perfect materials for craft time with your munchkins. Spend an afternoon making “junk sculptures!” Use a piece of cardboard for the base, bust out the tacky glue, and watch your little ones build imaginative pieces of 3-D art!

Some of our favorite pieces of art here at the High are made from found objects (things that others may have thrown away).  We have artworks made from chewing gum, bottle caps, broken mirrors, and cardboard.  Bring your family to get inspired in our Folk Art collection where you will meet artists that were just average people using everyday objects to make extraordinary things.



What’s Your Job at the High? May 28, 2014

Filed under: What's your job at the High? — erinkdougherty @ 5:48 pm
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Have you ever visited the museum and witnessed hordes of happy school children milling about the building? Well, those kids are so happy because we have a ballin’ School Programs team that keeps them engaged, stimulated, and fed! There are a whole lot of components that go into making a school visit run smoothly and a very important piece of that puzzle is the lovely Ellen O’Brien, School Programs Assistant Extraordinaire.


Q: How long have you worked at the High?

This month I celebrated my first full year working at The High!

Q: What is it that you do at the Museum?

I am the School Programs Assistant so I assist with the planning and implementation of programs and services for teachers and K-12th grade students.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

One of my favorite things about my job is watching students who visit the museum make connections to classroom lessons in new and exciting ways! I often see students surprise both themselves and their teachers with their creativity and insight. For me personally, art makes learning come alive so to see that happen for others is so fulfilling. I also especially love working with all of the Education Department who constantly inspire me with their resourcefulness and can-do attitudes!

Q: What is your favorite work of art in the permanent collection and why?

It’s so hard to play favorites with all the wonderful art in our permanent collection! I do always find myself drawn to Anselm Kiefer’s painting Dragon (Drache). Before I worked at The High, anytime I would make a trip to Atlanta to see a new exhibition I would often try and make my way up to the skyway galleries to visit this monumental piece. I love to stand in front of this large painting and feel oh-so-small as I take in the rich textures Kiefer created with the choppy ocean waves and the dramatic night sky. This painting also includes a constellation depicting a mythological character that Keifer found being used throughout various cultures as a representation of evil within human nature, so fascinating!

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not working at the Museum?

Lately, I have loved being outside soaking up this warm spring weather at the park or on a friend’s porch. I also like creating art or crafts of my own, enjoying good food with friends, and finding great live music to enjoy!


Meet the Architect: Richard Meier May 23, 2014

Filed under: General — erinkdougherty @ 5:05 pm
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Richard Meier was the original architect of the High Museum of Art.  Much of your adventure in the museum probably takes place in the Stent Family Wing, the part of the building that Meier designed.  The circular ramps and wedge-shaped skylight in the atrium make us look up in wonder at the beautiful space.  Sculptures peek around the pillars as we ascend the floors, inviting us into the galleries for a closer look.  We aren’t the only ones who have fallen in love with his incredible design; in 1984, Meier was awarded the Pritsker Prize for his work on the High, the most distinguished architecture prize out there.

When Meier’s kids used to ask him what his favorite color was, he always disappointed them by answering, “white.” He went on to explain to them that white wasn’t boring at all!  In fact, white can be incredible because it is ever-changing, able to reflect all the colors of the rainbow!  Meier had a favorite shape, too.  Can you guess what it was? Next time you are at the museum go on a “square hunt” with your kiddos.  They are everywhere if you take the time to notice!



Watercolor Wonderful! May 16, 2014

Filed under: General,I'm bored — erinkdougherty @ 5:36 pm
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We absolutely LOVE watercolors here at the museum.  Because they are such a light medium, they sometimes have a mind of their own!  They flow, and bleed, and blend into each other—some of the reasons why working with them is so awesome! With a simple set of watercolor paints and a few household materials, creating unique pieces of art has never been so much fun!

Here are a few techniques that you can employ for different effects:


When you sprinkle salt on wet watercolor the crystals suck up the paint, gathering the pigments around them.  Brush off the salt when the painting is dry and behold an interesting texture that can vary with the size of the crystals and amount of salt applied.


Use different materials to “mask” sections of the painting that you would like to remain white.  Splatter or drip white glue and allow it to dry before painting to create a wacky abstract piece.  String rubber cement along the paper in crazy patterns and allow it to dry before painting.  You can later peel it off to reveal the pristine white paper beneath! If applied carefully, this technique can also be used to protect white space in small areas of a detailed painting.


Drip some watercolors onto a piece of paper.  Blow at the paint from different angles through a straw and watch the colors scatter and run!

A ton more objects can be used to experiment with watercolors.  Mess around with a spray bottle, sponge, crumpled paper, or anything else that strikes your fancy!


Work of the Week: Face Jar May 14, 2014

Filed under: General — erinkdougherty @ 5:28 pm


Next time you come to visit, head up to Gallery 304 on the 3rd Floor.  You might find something lurking there that you haven’t noticed before. A certain piece of pottery may look unassuming from its back, but as you make your way to its front you will find yourself face-to-face with…well…A FACE!  Pieces like this one appeared in South Carolina sometime in the mid 1800s. Their features provide an example of a creolized form that art historians believe has roots in both Africa and Europe.  There is a small hole near the bottom edge of our Face Jug, making its use very mysterious.  One theory suggests that adults kept things in them that they didn’t want their kids to get to and the scary face would keep the children away. 

This can be a fun piece to explore with your child.  Get their imaginations going with questions like, “What do you think adults would put in these jugs? “ or “Can you make a face like these guys?” or “How do these make you feel? Curious, scared, silly?”  You will surely get some creative answers!

Face Jar  can be found along with a few of his closest friends on the 3rd Floor of the Stent Family Wing in gallery 304.