Turning Ordinary to Extraordinary

We are all born creative spirits – artist and poet Patricia Goodrich brings this point home in Ordinary to Extraordinary, an installation she has curated for the James A. Michener Art Museum’s Children’s Gallery, December 14, 2010-January 23, 2011. This multimedia installation takes ordinary chairs and hangs them from the ceiling and off the walls, while disembodied voices envelope the room. Goodrich scavenged the chairs from thrift shops, flea markets or the roadside to transform the “Ordinary to Extraordinary.”

The Michener’s Nakashima Room, Nakashima’s Peace Tables and Edward Hicks’ “Peaceable Kingdom” inspired Goodrich, a Geraldine R. Dodge Poet and 2005 Bucks County Poet Laureate. She worked with Museum staff to reach out to community centers for a hands-on approach to contemporary art.

Ordinary to Extraordinary is part of Art Speaks and includes artwork from Bucks County residents selected from 12 community centers ranging in age from 2 to 93. Art Speaks Education staff and Goodrich visited Milford Square, Doylestown and Penndell Homeless shelters, Upper Bucks and Morrisville senior centers, the Bucks County Youth Center, the Teen Center through Family Service Association and the Rainbow Room at Planned Parenthood to lead workshops in contemporary art making.

Beginning with the premise that play is important to contemporary art, participants worked with building blocks “to find a place that would give them a peaceful experience and transform the blocks into that same feeling,” says Goodrich. Some interpreted it as landscape, some as portrait and some as color field. Some used text as imagery, some wrote poems and songs. The process encouraged participants to tap into their inner selves, experience the world in a different way, connect to one another and make a mess together, and laugh about it.

Working collaboratively, the participants transformed these chairs: No two are alike, and each tells a story. The creators’ conversations and stories about the chairs have been recorded, and emanate through the Michener’s Children’s Gallery.

Visitors will have the opportunity to “Build Peace” with blocks designed by more than 140 participating artists. There is also a chair guests can sit in to create their own entry in a book, be it a sketch, a poem or a personal reminiscence.

Art Speaks/Bucks County exhibits and programs were funded by a Museums for America grant through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and organized by the Michener’s Education staff: Curator of Education Adrienne N. Romano and Art on the Move/Art Speaks Coordinator Kip Malloy.

The James A. Michener Art Museum is located at 138 South Pine St., Doylestown, Pa. Museum hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10 am to 4:30 pm;
Saturday 10 am to 5 pm; Sunday noon to 5 pm. Admission: Members and children under 6, free; adults $10; seniors $9; college student with valid ID $7.50; ages 6-18 $5. For more information, visit http://www.michenerartmuseum.org or call 215-340-9800.

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