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(Left to right) Friends Kathryn Donahey, Ryan Burchette and Makayla Collins visit Turkish-American artist Burhan Doğançay's "Picture the World" exhibit at the Kennedy Museum of Art in Athens, Ohio, on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Doğançay worked as a painter and sculptor, but his captivating photography focusing on urban life, art and architecture intrigued many, such as his "Walls of the World" collection as seen here in his exhibit.

Family Art Encounters program educates at an early age

People attend art museums to view and discuss the various works of art. However, the Kennedy Museum of Art has decided to break the barrier between art and patrons through creativity and cultural exploration.

The Kennedy Museum of Art, 100 Ridges Circle, hosts the Family Art Encounters program one Sunday a month during the academic school year as a part of its outreach initiative. 

Family Art Encounters is free to all families. The point is to explore all different types of art work through hands-on experiences. Typically the program gets about 25 to 40 people, and though it’s geared toward younger children so they can receive exposure to art at an early age, the event is open to all ages. 

Sally Delgado, curator of education for the museum, emphasizes the museum’s initiative to get more involved with Athens residents rather than just Ohio University students. That’s part of why she feels Family Art Encounters is such an important event. 

“It’s part of the mission of the museum,” Delgado said. “We’re obviously a university museum, but our mission is also to be a resource to the community as well.”

Each Family Art Encounters program typically corresponds with the museum’s current exhibit. Beginning Jan. 10 and running through March 22, the museum is featuring an exhibit called “Picture the World,” featuring the work of photographer Burhan Dogancay. 

Dogancay is a documentary photographer who traveled to more than 100 countries to showcase photos of structures, signs, symbols and images that people leave on walls. Through those photos, Dogancay hoped to relay the human condition without limitations on culture, race, politics or geography. 

January’s Family Art Encounters program was organized by Basil Masri Zada, a graduate associate getting his Ph.D. in interdisciplinary arts, who has been working with the museum for the past five years and is heavily involved in managing the Family Art Encounters program. 

“What I feel is really rewarding for us is to see families through the years coming back again and again,” Masri Zada said. 

Dogancay’s photo of a door as well as another photo from his collection were the two main inspirations for this month’s Family Art Encounters. People would walk into the visual literacy area of the museum, look at Dogancay’s door, watch a slideshow of doors from a plethora of different countries and cultures and then create a door of their own in the art studio. 

Though Masri Zada and the rest of the staff put out an instruction packet for how to create the doors, it’s really open-ended. In order for the attendants to create the doors, the museum supplied materials such as substrates, textured paper, fabric stickers, glue, crayons, markers, popsicle sticks and more.  

Young children and their families sat at tables to create their own version of Dogancay’s door. Whether the doors were more practical-looking or covered in bright colors and several stickers, the craft created a larger conversation of cultural diversity throughout the world and within Athens.

Carrie Summerford, a sophomore studying Spanish, is the outreach programs assistant at the museum and works on carrying out all of the programs. Summerford appreciates the cultural education that stems from the program, but she especially loves watching the younger children interact with art, the studio and gallery space. 

“It’s a good introduction to fine arts and just a good stimulation and interactive activity with the community at large, which is a really important aspect of art encounters,” Summerford said. 

Masri Zada has the same feeling watching the program come to fruition. Not only does he feel his own sense of pride because he was in charge of January’s Family Art Encounters, but he loves seeing young children begin to be enlightened about various cultures through the creative outlet of art. 

“It widens the view,” Masri Zada said. “It’s a different perspective, especially for children of young ages that create this visual memory of all these observations through their experiences, and I think that’s really important to expose them.”


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