The Sounds and Colors of the Pathless Woods

Anne Patterson’s captivating installation, Pathless Woods references a line from a Lord Byron poem – “There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore. . . "  The interactive experience, currently at the Ringling Museum, encourages visitors to find their own path through a forest of ribbons.  Each ribboned path takes you on a different journey of sounds, colors, and light.  Patterson describes the feeling as, “swimming through color.”  Consisting of over 24 miles of hanging, satin ribbon in 14 different colors, the piece enables visitors to experience art in a unique way. 

Anne Patterson has synesthesia.  When she hears music, she “sees shapes and colors.”  In this installation, visitors leave one reality – the museum – and enter into a new one “where the senses are encouraged to overlap, producing a type of constructed synesthesia.”  Visiting the exhibit reminded me of the wonderful children’s book, The Noisy Paintbox by Barb Rosenstock in which a young Vasya Kandinsky paints the sounds of the colors and eventually finds his own path to creativity.

May we all find paths to access our creativity. . . 


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Hats Off!  Using Architecture as Creative Inspiration

Beautiful Corinthian columns

Once upon a time, I worked for a historic preservation organization.  I attended many tours and social events in historic properties not usually open to the public. Traveling to these events was entertaining and informative because my colleagues would point out various house styles and identify architectural features.  They would get excited about such features as, roof forms, paint colors, windows, porch supports, and decorative details.  I learned a lot and often think of them whenever I see an interesting house style.


My favorite part of the job was creating and implementing children’s educational programs. One program involved making really tall architectural hats. First, we walked through a neighborhood to examine columns (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian) and their capitals (the design at the top of the column).  We also took photographs to help us remember the details. 

Ionic Column:  Using Architecture as Inspiration

We used poster board to create the brim and crown hat pieces.  For the crown, we rolled poster board into cylinders and placed them on our heads for sizing.  We  inserted the cylinders into the brims and adjusted as needed.  (We cut notches on the crowns in order to attach them to the brims).  We decorated the hats with paper scrolls, leaves, spirals, flowers, fruits, animals and many other ornaments.  Inspired by architecture, our creative column hats were a big hit! 


Recently, I spent some time walking around our nation’s capital, and the architecture reminded me of the hat project.  Perhaps it’s time to make a hat of my own. . . 

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Using architecture as creative inspiration

Jammin' with Five All-Star Jazz Selections

Explore jazz with these five all-star selections


April is a wonderful month – spring is in the air, trees are showing their leaves, birds are chirping, and everyone feels more energized.  It’s the perfect time of year for Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM).  Created at the National Museum of American History, JAM encourages everyone to participate in jazz.  You can celebrate by learning more about one of the jazz legends whose birthday falls in April:  Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Dodds, Lionel Hampton, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, Shorty Rogers, Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente, Freddie Hubbard, Randy Weston, or Herbie Hancock.  How's that for an all-star lineup?!!


While it’s difficult to highlight jazz in just a few tracks, students can begin to explore jazz with the following selections, chosen by Bill McKemy, Director of Education and Public Programs at the American Jazz Museum.  Located in the historic 18th & Vine Jazz District in Kansas City, Missouri, the American Jazz Museum brings to life “the great American art form of jazz.” 

Louis Armstrong (with his wife Lil Hardin Armstrong on piano)
"Heebie Jeebies":  This recording is known as the first recorded example of “scat singing” a style of vocal improvisation with nonsense lyrics.

Mary Lou Williams
"Walkin’ and Swingin’":  Mary Lou Williams was known as the first great female instrumentalist in jazz. She was also a very influential composer, arranger and mentor.

Coleman Hawkins
"Body & Soul":  A classic recording by the first great tenor saxophonist in jazz.

Miles Davis
"Move":  A great example of the post-bebop “cool jazz” style.

Esperanza Spaulding with Gretchen Parlato
"Inutil Paisagem"

April is Jazz Month (JAM)!  Jam with these five all-star selections

I'll Meet You At . . . The Museum

Claes Oldenburg, Notes, 1968

Untitled (City as Alphabet) Notes, 1968, Claes Oldenburg


Looking for something fun and educational to do with your children this weekend?  Why not visit a museum?  This Saturday, March 12, 2016 is Museum Day Live, an annual event in which admission to participating museums is free for two guests.  That’s right, free!  Taking children to museums is a good idea.  According to Education Next, students who attend a field trip to an art museum demonstrate improved critical thinking skills, historical empathy, and tolerance.  Also, a public opinion survey commissioned by the American Alliance of Museums states that “Americans view museums as one of the most important resources for educating our children and as one of the most trustworthy sources of objective information.” 

If you’d like to visit an art museum, make the most of the experience with these approaches to engage young children.  For more advice about visiting with toddlers, read this mom’s post about her trip to an art museum with 3 preschool boys.  She definitely embraced the four “B”s of museum-going while creating a love for museums. 

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site:  Monroe Elementary School


The Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site has much to offer visitors interested in the history of civil rights.  It is located in the former Monroe Elementary School, one of four segregated elementary schools established for African Americans in Topeka, Kansas, and it is the only national park named after a United States Supreme Court case.  Visitors learn how Brown v. Board of Education ended legal segregation in public schools and how “the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.  Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”         
Exhibits detail the history of segregation in America, the Brown v. Board of Education court decision, and the legacy of the the case throughout the world.  A restored early 1950s kindergarten classroom serves as a place for families to connect to history.  Artifacts in the classroom, such as a flag with 48 stars, help visitors compare and contrast the classroom to their own memories of kindergarten.  I happened to visit the same day as a student who attended the school in the 1950s.  It was fascinating to listen to her reminisce about the original classrooms and routines.

To learn more about this historic site, including curriculum-based education programs, visit the Brown v. Board of Education website.

Brown v. Board of Education

Innovations From a Distant Time

Innovations From a Distant Time

Power and Pathos, the exhibit of bronze sculptures at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., is remarkable.  Fifty bronze sculptures, dating from the 4th century BC to the 1st century AD, capture the “dynamic realism, expression, and detail that characterize the new artistic goals of the era.”  Innovations from a distant time still seem relevant today and offer inspiration for prolonged viewing and future exploration.  Only a small fraction of ancient bronzes survives because most were melted down over the centuries.  Many of the exhibit’s lifelike masterpieces were discovered via the sea, having washed ashore or pulled up in fishing nets. 

Bronze and copper statue of Athena:  Innovations From a Distant Time

Athena ("Minerva of Arezzo"), 300 - 270 BC; bronze and copper.


Children eager to learn more about archaeology and ancient artwork can visit Historium:  Welcome to the Museum by Jo Nelson.  The book conveys how human beings are “astonishingly creative” by showcasing a diverse selection of civilizations and objects.  The detailed illustrations and descriptions of artifacts from six "galleries" (Africa, America, Asia, Europe, The Middle East, and Oceania) provide an excellent overview of ancient cultures.


Innovations from a Distant Time
Innovations From a Distant Time

Name That Animal

Name That Animal
Name that Animal
Name that Animal
Name that Animal
Name that Animal
Name that Animal

Roy Lichtenstein, Bull VI, Bull V, Bull IV, Bull III, Bull II, and Bull I

from the Bull Profile series, 1973, linecut, lithograph and screenprint


The Serial Impulse at Gemini G.E.L., October 4, 2015 – February 7, 2016,

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. 

Contact Information

Debra Lemieux

If Then Creativity


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