By Angelina Bellebuono guest writer
Georgia winter is stark. Although we don’t typically deal with the worries of dangerous snows or ice, the damp, gray days may well wear on your dreams of whimsy, hope and beauty. Never fear. Instead of wiling away those weekends in that threadbare robe playing games on the family’s iPad, you (and your family) can immerse yourselves in experiences that will awaken you artistically and creatively. Regardless of whether you want to see art, make art or simply change your scenery, the Steffen Thomas Museum of Art has a doctor’s bag full of prescriptions for the gray winter doldrums. STMA Director Karen Strelecki is officially inviting the community, young and old, to check out the workshops and exhibits being offered by the museum in the next few months.
“Winter can be so dreary,” Strelecki said. “But inside our museum, we surround you with colorful, inspiring possibilities.” The current excitement includes a full calendar of options happening over the next several months, Strelecki said, beginning with the Saturday, January 30 opening of Mixed Mania: An Exhibition of Works by University of North Georgia Dahlonega Studio Art Majors. The show is one of two in the culmination of this year’s College Connections program, the museum’s regular collaboration with studio art majors at regional colleges and universities. The final goal of the semester-long project is a temporary exhibition of the students’ best pieces, professionally installed in this respected museum, complete with a well-publicized gallery opening and an opportunity for students to get the public’s eyes on their work. The College Connections project is an extension of the long-standing STMA Art$mart education outreach program, but by specifically working with college-level art majors, the museum has the opportunity to directly affect a fertile segment of the young population of aspiring artists by providing them a space to have work shown in a professional museum and gallery setting. “We hope the experience is valuable and that it helps build their resumes,” Strelecki said. “And we hope the community will come to the museum to experience the color-rich and lively works created by UNG studio art students in Stanley Bermudez’s fall semester Drawing III-Mixed Media, 2D Design and Color Theory classes.”
Bermudez told Strelecki that the classes explored non-traditional mediums like masking tape and duct tape, while also using more traditional mediums like pastels, inks, paint and color pencils—but combining them in new and interesting ways. He said, “Students really went all out and seemed to enjoy exploring the materials, and I allowed them to try things even if they might not have been necessarily considered drawing.” The art generated through these processes will be featured at the opening reception on Saturday, January 30 from 3-5 p.m. and will be exhibited in the museum’s West Gallery through March 5. If you are feeling like making art, in addition to observing it, the museum’s got that covered, too, Strelecki noted. The 2015-2016 STMArtventures – Experiences in Creativity workshop series continues with monthly Saturday morning workshops in February, March and April. Workshops are held from 10am to noon at the museum and require pre-registration. On February 6, artist and photographer Deanna Pieniaszek will teach “Exploring Movement with Line, Shape and Form.” The workshop is for any age 6 and up, and will explore proportion and movement in both 2D and 3D, and will include gesture drawing and sketching movements. From those 2D samples, participants will translate their favorites into 3D wire sculptures. The workshop on March 19 will be taught by Double Dutch Press, printmakers from Athens, and will give participants ages 12 and up the opportunity to make their very own stamps for gift-cards, tags or mixed media art. Participants are encouraged to bring bold and graphic ideas for their individual stamps, but all other supplies and materials will be provided. The end product will be a stamp to take home and a set of personalized stamped cards. To end the year’s series on April 9, local ceramic artists Elizabeth Collins and Chuck Hanes will lead workshop participants ages 6 and up in a “chaotic clay” adventure. No experience is necessary, but bringing a lively imagination might make the pinch-pot critters, slab bowls and coil vases that much more fun to build, Collins notes in the workshop description. For STMA members, workshop fees are $12/adult, $10/child. For non-members, fees are $14/adult, $12/child. Strelecki reiterated the museum’s dedication to making art accessible to everyone in the community, and explained that if the fees pose a financial burden, participants can attend for free if they’ve made arrangements with the museum in advance. Strelecki is adamant; the museum wants the community to experience art. Whether it’s to escape the dreariness of winter or to expand your awareness, the Steffen Thomas Museum of Art wants you to engage with art— the invitation for inspiration awaits. For more information on Mixed Mania or the STMArtventures series, visit www.steffenthomas.org or call the museum at 706-342-7557.