I arrived at the Museum early that cold Saturday morning in January with much anticipation. We had been planning this event for months and the day was finally here. Today well-known ceramicist Trent Tally would be throwing pottery in the Museum Store! It was our first live artist demonstration, and we had a lot of work ahead of us, yet I had other concerns on my mind. Would this demonstration work? Would it be interesting to the Museum guests? Once Trent was set up, he went right to work. The moment his pottery wheel started to turn with a hunk of clay, people started to gather and watch. All my concerns faded immediately and I watched as the discovery began.
Part of our mission at the Museum Store is to enhance knowledge and appreciation of art through our product selection. Our regional art program is a key demonstration of this very thing. When a person can touch a wooden vessel turned from a chunk of sycamore harvested during the construction of the Museum; or examine a basket woven from locally harvested white oak created by an artist from this region, they can truly engage with that work of art. Many times they have questions about the materials or the process. It’s up to us to have answers. In that way we can help educate and further the overall Museum experience for our guests. It’s a task we take very seriously and, quite frankly, the Museum store staff enjoy learning as much as our guests do.
It’s always exciting when we have the opportunity to further this experience by offering demonstrations of different techniques our regional artists use in their creations. Whether it’s glass artist Denise Lanuti creating her lampwork beads, or Pen Brady painting in the Museum Store, an artist at work is always enjoyable to watch. It’s a way of bringing the artistic process to life, leaving a visitor to the Museum feeling invigorated much in the same way an audience member at a live theater performance or concert may feel.
It is always our hope that after a visit to Crystal Bridges a guest has discovered something that inspires them. That certainly includes the Museum Store and our wonderful collection of works by regional artists. After all, once a person discovers inspiration they can then begin to dream and do.
The next Museum Store artist demonstration will be September 28, with a variety of regional wood turners demonstrating their craft.