July marked the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. July was also when the Museum reopened to the public after being closed for four months to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The pandemic has necessarily brought new attention to concerns about safety and access—something that Museum docent Mauree Childress, who uses a wheelchair, said “people with disabilities have top of mind whenever they leave home—pandemic or not.” Based on conversations we’ve had over the years, I invited Mauree to write about her experience as a person with a disability who frequents the Museum—and what the anniversary of the ADA meant to her. —Amy Kirschke, director of adult, docent, and school programs
Learn about an abstract painting, and then make a summer-inspired work of your own.
When you look at the painting below, what do you see? American artist Helen Frankenthaler (1928–2011) was an Abstract Expressionist; these artists used line, shape, and color to express themselves.
Frankenthaler invented her own painting technique, which she called “soak staining.” First, she added turpentine to her oil paints to make them thinner (and very runny!). Then, she laid a cotton canvas flat on the floor, and poured, dripped, and brushed the paint onto its surface. Since her canvases were unprimed, or raw, the paint soaked into the fabric.
The swirling lines and shapes in Frankenthaler’s works show how her arms moved across the canvas. Look at the painting below. Can you try to copy the artist’s movement? Now, it’s your turn to try “soak staining”! Follow a few easy steps to create your own Helen Frankenthaler–inspired masterpiece.
We commonly refer to dogs as everyone’s best friend, and for me, that’s true. But I have many other best friends, too, including my cat, my rabbit, and some nice people. Each has their own unique personality. Artworks can also have unique “personalities,” or styles. Artistic styles help us explain how artworks look and how they were made. There are many different styles of art.
Alex Katz’s Sunny #4, a larger-than-life portrait of the artist’s dog, is painted in the Pop Art style. Pop artists often used bold lines, flat shapes, and vivid colors in their artworks. Here, Katz used long, straight brushstrokes to paint Sunny’s hair, and for Sunny’s tongue, he painted a flat, pink rectangle.
Let’s make our own drawings inspired by Sunny!