The Children’s Discovery Museum is so excited to be teaming up with artist and Lunder Institute for American Art Fellow Veronica Perez to create one-of-a-kind interactive pieces of art through community workshops for the museum’s brand-new exhibit hall!
Throughout the month of June, Veronica, a Maine-based multidisciplinary artist and mother, will host a series of workshops that invite children from the community into the design and creation process. Support for these free workshops is generously provided by Colby College Arts Office, Museum of Art, and the Center for the Arts and Humanities.
The first set of workshops led by Perez at Greene Block + Studios, June 8 and 11, will introduce children to the local flora and fauna of Maine before inviting them to create drawings of flowers that she will recreate as fabric sculptures. In the second part of the workshop, on the June 11 for ages 8 and up, children will have a chance to use real sewing machines and scissors to assist Perez in creating these works.
In the second set of workshops at Colby College Museum of Art on June 15 and 18 (both open to all ages 3-12), Perez will lead kids in a hands-on educational presentation about spiders, including how they help our gardens, what they eat, their digestive systems and their poop – because everybody poops and spider poops are very interesting and helpful to the ecosystem.
Veronica recently took the time to tell us a little more about herself and show us around her studio and what she’s working on for her upcoming show at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland later this month.
Children’s Discovery Museum: How would you describe your work to a 5-year-old?
Veronica: I’d say it’s hairy. It’s fun. You can touch it. A lot of my work is soft and playful, feels like hair, the tactility of it, how you can touch it but also how it talks about kindness and gentleness.
CDM: How did you start working with hair?
Veronica: I’m always looking for materials that look like the human body or make people think about the human body – somebody gave me a bag of artificial hair and said I think you can use this, and I thought, yeah, I can. And the more I looked into it I saw the relationship between hair and identify, feeling the humanness of it try to get across in my work. I’ve been working with it for 5 or 6 years now. It can have so many meanings and readings of it, and it’s an accessible material.
CDM: What excites you about the Children’s Museum collaboration?
Veronica: I’ve never made sculptures specifically for children and that’s really exciting to me, having a kid and embracing them in this project too. One of the tenets of my practice is that it is accessible to everybody. I’m a community-based artist – working with the community widens the birth and what it means, who creates it, what I like about working with the Children’s Museum is I’m not just an artist in my studio but the community is a part of these works, which creates a sense of togetherness.
CDM: Where did you grow up?
Veronica: I grew up in New Jersey for almost my whole life. I spent some time in Philadelphia and now live in Maine. I liked growing up in New Jersey. There's always this complexity about New Jersey – like everyone’s heard of Jersey Shore, Bruce Springsteen, there’s something kitsch, sketchy and weird about it that has carried into my work and who I am.
CDM: What did you want to be when you grew up when you were 5?
Veronica: I don’t really know what I wanted to be, I just wanted to make art, be outside and play. I was never the type of person who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up, even when I went to college it was hard. I knew I wanted to do art and work with people not so much teaching, but something where I could teach but also learn at the same time. Learning so much about the community and who they are also helps situate me and my needs.
CDM: If you were a color of crayon what would you be?
Veronica: Oh, I’d totally be leopard print because leopard print is my favorite color. Everybody thinks it’s black because all my artwork is in black, but that weird pattern color makes me happy – leopard print is nothing but smiles.