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Get Your Game On at the Pelham Art Center!

By Chanel Baxter, Pelham Art Center Intern

Playing Games at the Art Center

 The Pelham Art Center has crafted a workshop that is specifically tailored to arguably the most important step in the creative process, play! Under the guidance of the wonderful Charlotte Mouquin, students will be able to explore some classic surrealist art games using mixed media drawing and painting to spark the imagination. The class welcomes all ages and artistic levels to explore and implement play into their art-making.

The History Behind Play In Art

The humble beginnings of art games stretch all the way back to art movements more than a century ago. The Dada movement started in the early 20th century as a reaction to World War I and was made up of Swiss artists commenting on the rapidly-changing world around them. Artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Kurt Schwitters aimed to reinvent what art stood for in their war-torn society. By using everyday objects and slightly altering their meanings or leaving things to chance in the artmaking process, Dadaism would go on to influence other movements such as Surrealism. Surrealism began with Dadaist writer André Breton’s “Manifestoes of Surrealism” which was heavily inspired by those who flocked to Paris following the end of Dadaism. Surrealists relied less on chance and spontaneity and put their focus onto the subconscious and the unconscious. Salvador Dalí and Frida Kahlo are some of the more recognizable artists in the movement due to their dream-like paintings. Dalí’s arguably most revered and recognizable piece ‘The Persistence of Memory’ (pictured below) captures this dream-like, unconscious state perfectly as the melted clocks scattered about a desolate background seems both foreign and recognizable to onlookers, aligning with the principles of both movements as well as the describing the reactions to our very own experiments. Tinkering with different styles, mediums, ideas, and expressions of art opens up the door to truly understanding what art is and what art can be while building on what we already know and appreciate about artmaking.

To Play or Not to Play

But why is exploring and playing in art important? What is art if not the exploration of your imagination and the experimentation with new materials and ideas? Not only does playing with art create complex art pieces but it is a great way for people to practice the art of creating something that they can find pride in. Playing with art can range from experimenting with a new medium to experimenting with different art styles and techniques. In movements like Dadaism and Surrealism, works are created by artists who not only utilize but also emphasize the subconscious and its effect on artmaking. Seemingly random brush strokes or redefining the meanings of everyday objects are some ways in which we can have fun with and incorporate play in art. Allowing oneself to divert from the often rigid expectations of art and embrace the chaotic and uncertain nature of creating helps to synthesize artworks that can resonate with others and ourselves.

Here’s a quote from the instructor regarding what to expect from the workshop: 

I am teaching this 3 part workshop to unlock creativity and have fun with art. The age to register for the class is 9+ that means a family could take it, it could be intergenerational to explore some materials and collaborative art making processes. There will be group art making such as the classic exquisite corpse surrealist game. The workshops will explore materials, from ink blots and rorschach type brain games to blind contour drawing and musical paintings so to speak. The purpose of this class is to take a break from the everyday for some free form collaborative art expression. For beginners to master, all levels are welcome as everyone can explore art supplies, learn and enjoy in a supportive group setting.”

This workshop will run at the Pelham Art Center from December 4th to December 18th.

Register for Art Games here