Intern Blog: Passion Works Studio at KMA, Part 1

Hi! My name is Abigale Collins and I’m the Academic Programs Assistant here at the Kennedy Museum of Art. I’m currently pursuing my BFA in Studio Art with a concentration in Painting and Drawing. I’m also working on a Museum Studies certificate as well as minors in Communication Studies and Art History.

I decided at the beginning of summer that I wanted to volunteer at Passion Works Studio, but I was too nervous to just go and do it, especially alone. So when I received an email a few weeks before the fall semester started about a Service Learning in the Visual Arts course at Passion Works Studio, I signed up immediately.

Me with a passion flower at Passion Works Studio

At the first meeting at the studio, I met Rachel Clark (the course instructor), Patty Mitchell (Passion Works Founder and Executive Director), and Nancy Epling (Creative Foundations Program Director). I learned that the course requires that we volunteer at least 6 hours a week on our own time and attend 3 class meetings during the semester. We were told that this would be an exceptionally busy semester for Passion Works, as they are celebrating their 20th anniversary with lots of events. One of the biggest events would be the exhibit here at the Kennedy Museum called ‘A Story of Flying: 20 Years of Passion Works’!

Luckily for me, a lot of the things on Passion Works’ agenda for the semester took place here at the Kennedy so I would have gotten those chances to be involved anyway since I work here, but I’ve been volunteering a lot in the studio too. I’ve done fun things like painting pawpaw earrings to be sold at the Pawpaw festival, making stamens for passion flowers, and of course hanging out with and helping the artists there.

The first event I took part in was Kate Kern’s workshop at the Kennedy Museum of Art in September. Kate Kern is an artist who has had numerous artist residencies over the years, including residencies at Passion Works. She gave us a presentation about her work and residencies, which I found super interesting as an artist myself. Then we all made these paper moths that would be hung in the upcoming Passion Works Exhibit here at the Kennedy. The moths all have eyes from the folks at Passion Works! I convinced my mom to come to this workshop, and she got to learn about where I work and where I volunteer. It was super fun getting to make art with her and my coworkers.

Kate Kern giving a presentation about her work
Kate Kern showing us a model of what her space in the Passion Works exhibit would look like
Interns and a visitor creating their moths

As October crept up, we were in full Passion Works mode. The exhibit was set to open on Friday, October 12th, with a Family Art Encounters scheduled for that Sunday, the 14th.

In the weeks leading up to the opening of the exhibit, we were busy planning tours and activities. Our team worked on planning some extra credit tours for Spanish classes at Ohio University, tours for early and middle childhood education classes, as well as tours for preschoolers.

Athens Head Start students exploring the exhibit

We came up with super fun activities for these tours inspired by the art made at Passion Works. In one activity, the students got into groups and were given a basket filled with art making supplies like scissors, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, ribbon, yarn, recycled materials, and a large sheet of muslin to act as their canvas. They were asked to participate in collaborative art making, something Passion Works emphasizes, to make a piece of art on their canvas with the materials provided. They came up with some pretty amazing stuff. It was fascinating how each group received the same materials, yet created entirely different works of art.

Childhood Education class participating in our basket activity
One of the works of art a Childhood Education class created

Another activity involved the students picking characters and settings from the art in the exhibit and creating a story with them. They were given cards with close up images of the artworks to help them choose, as well as some storyboard sheets in which they could either lay the cards down or draw the characters. Taking the photos for the cards was a fun challenge because we were taking them as the exhibit was being installed, so every time we went in the gallery, there seemed to be dozens of new things we needed to take photos of.

A Childhood Education class participating in the storyboarding activity

It was interesting to hear what the early and middle childhood education groups thought about how these activities could work or be altered for different age groups. It was a nice learning experience for them and us.

By Abigale Collins

Click here to check out Part 2 of this post for more!