By Carli Mandel
On the evening of June 10th, 2017, residents from the Muncie community came together to celebrate the arts at Muncie’s annual Festival on the Green. The event was held on the Ball State University Quad in front of the David Owsley Museum of Art, and ran from 6 pm–8:15 pm. An Arts Fair presented by the Muncie Arts and Culture Council (MACC) was held from 5:30–7 pm, and the Muncie Symphony Orchestra put on their musical medley concert from 7–8 pm. Performing such varied pieces as Csardas and Offenbach’s The Infernal Gallop to The Chicken Dance and the YMCA, the concert was suitable for all ages, and drew in a numerous and varied crowd. Free and open to the public, the event attracted an estimated 1,500 individuals in attendance, as determined by data collected from the Muncie Symphony Orchestra.
Local businesses and vendors from the community set up an array of booths and tables along the pathway winding through the Quad, along which guests could walk and socialize with different organizations. Our booth, representing the David Owsley Museum of Art, provided children and families with the opportunity to participate in both a Calder-mobile craft activity and a photo booth with frames and props for participants to become living portraits. An informational table was also set up in our DOMA tent to allow interested families to grab brochures and informational pamphlets regarding the works in our collection. Throughout the course of the evening, an estimated 30 – 40 families stopped by our table to participate in activities, as well as learn more information about the museum.
The Calder mobile activity, as designed and implemented by School of Art graduate student and DOMA education intern Lily Rawson, gave children the chance to be able to make a mobile inspired by the Calder work Three Worms and a New Moon in DOMA’s own collection. Created by attaching pipe cleaners and geometric foam pieces to one another, the activity was purposely made so that it could be hung up by string in participants’ homes following the event. The mobiles were fairly easy to make, and hugely popular with the children who visited our booth. Each and every work of art produced was unique to the child that fashioned it, and proved a great exercise in helping younger audiences to expand their creativity and encourage interest in our museum. The hands-on art making also helped children to draw connections between the music being performed by the Muncie Symphony Orchestra with such artistic principles of design as movement and rhythm.
Our second activity, that of a picture frame photo booth, was also very popular with children, ranging in age from toddlers all the way up adolescents. This activity allowed participants to choose from a variety of costumes and props provided, which were inspired by painted portraits, and then have a photograph taken of them within the confines of a picture frame. Visitors were able to actually become a living part of the art, while also exploring common symbols/themes prevalent in traditional portraiture. Pictures of the photo booth “portraits” were taken by education intern Lily Rawson, docent Jean Gadziola, and myself on our mobile phones, and were uploaded soon after to the David Owsley Museum of Art Facebook page (for interested persons to access). Each “portrait” allowed our visitors to creatively design a scene and make a physical statement about themselves to others, an extremely important concept in portrait painting which we hoped to stress.
In relation to the event and the success of our museum-oriented activities, DOMA education intern Lily Rawson states, “Festival on the Green was a lovely afternoon to meet some community families. It was so wonderful to help the kids explore simple sculpture techniques while listening to the symphony in the background. The smiles and laughs that were seen during the portrait activity were priceless, as families squished themselves within the frame for the photo, while wearing a variety of the silly props. As an intern, it’s lovely to see the community members of Muncie get involved with DOMA, and get to know about its artwork and opportunities here.
DOMA docent Jean Gadziola also commented “Overall I think the DOMA booth was a hit at this year’s event. I loved the mobile activity, and many children had a better understanding of what a mobile is all about.” She also went on to say about the picture frame photo booth, “The portrait activity is an excellent way for children to imagine posing and what it must be like to have your portrait painted.”
Judging solely by the pure excitement, joy, and smiles on the faces of those families who passed through our tent, I’d say that the DOMA booth, our activities, and the Festival on the Green event went extremely well. Families were able to listen to famous music from every period, as performed by a fantastic orchestra, and many children under our guidance were given the opportunity to make art that may not have otherwise been provided. With sunny weather, lovely music, and a bevy of businesses to interact with, the community really came together to celebrate the abundant arts and culture Muncie has to offer, a feat which I hope we can continue to support and enrich for years to come.