Summertime art is the bee’s knees

Saturday, August 23 was a great day to instill summer spirit as the season comes to a close. Busy Bees and Other Summer Creatures was one of the most unique accessible programs to date at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Classic tactile art activities were produced, but something new was added to the mix: an interactive presentation with a beekeeper.

Toronto-based beekeeper Jared Taylor was our guest program facilitator. Jared and his wife, Melanie, manage bees and produce their own honey right outside of Kleinburg. This year, the McMichael acquired bee boxes to produce local honey. Jared manages the bees, which currently live on the surrounding gallery grounds within the Humber River Valley.  Jared led an educational presentation for the participants, discussing how bees produce honey, different hierarchies of the nest and the tools used to manage the black and yellow critters as they create liquid gold.

Everyone had an opportunity to try a slice (or two!) of sticky sweet honey, right off the honeycomb. Jared’s beekeeper suit and mask added a fun spin to traditional dress up activities, while he informed the group about the use of a bee smoker and why it is a useful contraption to calm bees in the honey-collecting process.

Following the presentation, the group moved inside to produce multimedia art projects. Honeycomb Creations were the first activity, using textured candle wax in different colours to decorate a rock or flower pot. Rocks were transformed into bees, mice and other cute critters. Intricate shapes and designs added character to each insect.

The group also worked on watercolour paintings inspired by the McMichael landscape and summertime blooms. Drawings were sketched onto craft paper with colourful ink markers before artists used a sponge paintbrush to blur lines and shapes with water, adding an abstract feel.

Busy Bees and Other Summer Creatures was a full house and great way to end summer programs at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

We look forward to another afternoon of accessible and inclusive art making at Adventure of a Maple Leaf on Saturday, October 18, 2014 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

To register, please visit the McMichael website.

Members of Autism Ontario are free. Please provide your Autism Ontario membership number at time of booking. Attendants do not pay.

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The Art of Inclusion: A Guide – the McMichael Canadian Art Collection makes accessible initiatives sustainable

It has been over two years since the McMichael Canadian Art Collection launched their prestigious EnAbling Change Project with support from the Government of Ontario. Two years of testing the waters with programs designed for people living with various special needs and exceptionalities. Programs for people of all ages, genders and ethnicities. Programs for people that visit the Collection for its unique atmosphere that merges art and nature. Programs that offer a different method of feeling like you belong. Programs that teach us the true meaning of “inclusion” and how it can be achieved through creative practices.

With all of this in consideration, it is my great pleasure to share with you The Art of Inclusion: A Guide – Seven Steps to Developing and Delivering Accessible and Inclusive Programs within Arts and Cultural Organizations.

This publication is the result of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection’s EnAbling Change project with the Government of Ontario, and outlines a seven-step process (a nod to the Group of Seven painters) for the successful design and delivery of accessible programs.

The Art of Inclusion: A Guide - Seven Steps to Developing and Delivering Accessible and Inclusive Programs within Arts and Cultural Organizations

The Art of Inclusion: A Guide – Seven Steps to Developing and Delivering Accessible and Inclusive Programs within Arts and Cultural Organizations – click the image to be redirected to the guide.

 

The goal of the publication is to provide a guide that will assist other arts and culture organizations in developing and implementing their own accessible initiatives, and to demonstrate the overall benefits of engaging visitors through specialized programs.

With the invaluable support of partner organizations, service providers, and industry contacts, the McMichael gained a wealth of knowledge that has allowed the gallery to offer a variety of programs to individuals with disabilities. Now, we wish to share what we have learned with others.

By offering these guidelines, the McMichael hopes that other organizations will follow the seven steps and ultimately create a more engaging and participatory cultural setting for individuals with special needs.

The guide is available to download online at: mcmichael.com/artofinclusion

We encourage you to spread the word about our accessible guide!

With enthusiasm,

Ola Mazzuca
Project Coordinator, Enabling Change
McMichael Canadian Art Collection

 

March Break Masterpiece

During the week of March 9, 2014, youth across Ontario took full advantage of their mid-winter break. With another snowstorm in the Greater Toronto Area, it seemed that the season of cold and ice had just begun. But some kids spent time warming up to activities far from the ordinary indoor, movie-watching and online gaming.

March break is a whole other world at the McMichael. Without entering a classroom or opening a textbook, it’s an educational experience that’s unique, fun and inspiring. Last week, we hosted March Break Special, our first accessible and inclusive March break program. We were able to accommodate the needs of new and returning participants, while introducing exciting multisensory projects.

The three day program followed a different theme during each session. On the first day, instructor Anna taught the group how to use stencils, paints, oil pastels and engraving tools to make images inspired by the Arctic. After a visit to the gallery to view First Nations and Inuit art, (including a larger than life Narwhal tusk!) the group returned to the studio. Everyone finished off the day with multimedia stamp prints, using plasticine, natural found objects like shells and leaves, and paint.

Well rested and ready for round two, the group returned on Thursday, March 13 to delve into the surrounding landscape. Participants were inspired to make their own tree sketches after experiencing the different textures of bark, branches and pine needles. The group went for a walk in the sunshine to collect an array of pine cones in different shapes and sizes for the next activity. After lunch, the group proceeded with drawing beautiful branches and curvy leaves with textured pastels and vibrant watercolour paints.

To end off the day, participants exited their comfort zone by creating interpretive scenes of horizons, sunsets and surrounding landscape, using thick acrylic paint, sand and salt. By using cardboard combs, chopsticks and forks to create lines smooth and squiggly, the ultra sensory activity was enjoyed by all – even parents sat down to revel in the therapeutic element.

On the final day of camp, the group made three dimensional sculptures with Plaster of Paris. The special product is a modeling clay made by adding water to a fine powder solution. The solution heats up and can be placed inside a confined space, like a balloon, where it can be slowly molded into different shapes by hand. As the plaster cools, bumps and curves form. When this handmade stone is removed from the balloon, it can be painted with vibrant colours or carved into intricate designs.

It was a beautiful day on the McMichael grounds, so we decided to take a walk on the path leading to the Humber River Trail, which is located just below the wedding hill, behind the gallery. The group created their very own sculpture garden, complete with snow inukshuks, porcupines, forts and even a large rabbit!

After some Vitamin D from eating lunch and being in the sun, everyone relaxed by molding Play Clay into various shapes. Some participants made nature scenes with bark and pine cones, while others created key chains and paper weights. Using earthy cream, green and brown colours, the group created beautiful nature inspired works. Some members wanted to mimic Inuit art, swapping ivory stone for Ivory soap to make their own sculptures using safe wooden tools.

As the sun tucked behind the clouds, the Artists’ Studio was filled with triple-threat, multimedia artworks completed by three young artists within three days. We may have seen better weather in previous years, but nothing compared to the fantastic art created at March Break Special.

The group says, "sunshine!" as I take a photo. March Break Special was a blast!

The group says, “sunshine!” as I take a photo. March Break Special was a blast!

See you at the McMichael on June 21 for Drumming Circle, the summer edition of our popular ArtVenture Accessible Family Art programs. With a First Nations percussion performance, art making and outdoor exploration, it’s a program you don’t want to miss!

Celebrating LIFE with art at the McMichael

Since November 4, 2013, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection has been the Monday stomping ground for five talented youth. Members of Kerry’s Place Autism Services completed a six week partnership program with the organization. The LIFE  (Learning Independence Through Facilitated Education) Academy Program is a course offered to youth aged 18 and up, which is a socially interactive experience that develops life skills for post secondary education, independent living and employment. Drawing from the surrounding landscape and history, each participant completed a portfolio of vibrant works worthy of exhibition.

The program was taught by McMichael educator Christina Kerr, and Emmanuel Elkabas-Besnard, an instructor from Kerry’s Place and a professionally trained artist currently pursuing a Fine Arts Degree at York University. It was a great opportunity to merge teaching methods in a free-flowing environment against the stunning winter backdrop of the Humber River Trail.

Each week, the students intently worked on rough sketches and paintings. They also visited the gallery to experience the current exhibition You Are Here: Kim Dorland and the Return to Painting. Students had the opportunity to hear from the Toronto-based artist during a gallery talk, where they learned about his painting techniques and the influence of Tom Thomson,  members of the Group of Seven, and other Canadian artists on his own work.

On Monday, December 9, the participants of LIFE Academy at the McMichael celebrated their final day by completing their portfolio pieces, inserting them into customized canvas bags. The group listened to Electro-Jazz, The Tragically Hip and St. Germain compilations during each brushstroke and pencil sketch. Kerr and Elkabas-Besnard awarded each participant their own certificate of completion. Before heading out into the brisk winter weather, the artists made a toast with piping hot chocolate and cookies.

It was a sweet ending to an awesome program that created new friendships and inspired innovative techniques. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see these pieces on our walls someday, parallel to Thomson and the greats.

The LIFE Academy gather for a group photo in fron of the McMichael sign on December 9, 2013. From left to right: Stephanie Lee, Christina Kerr, Rebecca Ribchester, Daniel Ciccarelli, Tommy Deonauth, Emmanuel Elkabas-Besnard and Scott Lee.

The LIFE Academy gather for a group photo in front of the McMichael sign on December 9, 2013. From left to right: Stephanie Lee, Christina Kerr, Rebecca Ribchester, Daniel Ciccarelli, Tommy Deonauth, Emmanuel Elkabas-Besnard and Scott Lee.

Make 2014 a mosaic of creativity

How will you inaugurate the New Year?

If you are pining for creative expression and starting things off on a positive note, check out Canadian Mosaic on Thursday, January 2 at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

This event marks our second installment of ArtVenture Accessible Family Art Programs and we want to celebrate it with you. At Canadian Mosaic, you’ll visit the gallery to explore our vast collection of Canadian art, both classic and contemporary. At the studio, various mosaic techniques will be taught, inspiring you to apply the surrounding winter landscape and McMichael collection to your work.

Let’s make the New Year positive by building it piece by piece at Canadian Mosaic!

Register early – spots fill quickly!

Visit the program page for cost and registration information.

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The artistic side of autumn

Don’t you just love the crisp crunch sound of yellow, red and orange leaves beneath your feet? What about the cones that fall from huge pine trees, each unique like a snowflake, but a season early? Or maybe it’s that fresh smell in the air, clean and cool.

Is there a word to describe all of this at once?
Yes – it’s Fall – an inspiring season of natural aesthetic and transformational change.

Fall at the McMichael is an extraordinary experience. Whether you’re entering through the main entrance or walking on the Humber River Trails, the spirit of the Group is Seven is present and guaranteed to excite your senses.

That’s what participants of Explore Autumn encountered on Saturday, October 19.
The fall installment of our ArtVenture Accessible Family Art Programming was a full house.  New and familiar faces gathered inside the Pine Cottage art studio to dive into three different hands-on art activities:

  • Watercolour leaf rubbings: made by tracing the shape of oak, maple and birch leaves in various shapes and colours with an accessible chopstick tool. The veins of each leaf were sketched to add texture before participants added a layer of colour and a spray of water before “stamping” the shape on craft paper.
  • Vibrant watercolour marker paintings: Participants painted nature scenes on a texturized burlap canvas by using smooth markers in vibrant hues.
  • Clay scenes and sculptures: The ultimate tactile activity! By choosing from a vast palette, participants molded clay into animals or produced pictures inspired by surroundings and everyday life.

The fourth component to Explore Autumn included a sample of our Woodland Inspired® iPad Program. Participants were free to let their skills do the painting on applications that include:

  • Art Rage
  • Brushes
  • Sumo Paint

Each application offers the choice of several tools, shapes, stamps and colours. You can change the density of the mark your paintbrush makes or the texture of a pencil. Perhaps you wish to add a flower to your image – there’s a tool for that!

Parents joined to produce their own masterpieces.
Artists also sent their work as an email attachment directly from the application.

Check out the gallery below to see our iPad activity in action:

In the new year, we’ll host our next program, Canadian Mosaic, where we’ll learn about mosaic techniques, piece by piece.

We hope to see you at our winter program!
For now, enjoy autumn before the snow falls.

We’re nominated for a ‘Versatile Blogger Award!’

Happy summer, followers!

Last week, I was pleased to discover that Jacklyn Hancock, of her self-titled blog, nominated EnAbling Change at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection for a ‘Versatile Blogger Award.’

This award works in a chain mail-like format, as each blog nominated is advised to “pay it forward” by doing the following:

•Thank the person that nominated you.
•Include a link to their blog.
•Nominate 10 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award and include a link to their blog.
•Share 7 things about yourself with the person that nominated you.

It has been such an amazing journey developing the Best Practices Guide for accessible programming at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
Sending a big thanks and shout out to Jacklyn Hancock! We appreciate your support.

Nominations:
1. Jacklyn Hancock Visual Artist – http://hancockjacklyn.wordpress.com/
2. Rolling Around In My Head – http://davehingsburger.blogspot.ca/
3. The Incluseum – http://incluseum.com/
4. Everybody is AOK (Autism Ontario) – http://everybodyisaok.com/
5. Take Nothing For Granted (Living With Sotos Syndrome/Autism) – http://takenothingforgranted.wordpress.com/
6. Autism  Speaks Canada – http://www.autismspeaks.ca/news/blog1/
7. A.R.T. Creations – http://www.creatingorganic.com/
8.Enabled by Design – http://enabledbydesign.org/
9. Daily Art Fixx – http://www.dailyartfixx.com/
10
. Alzheimer’s Society Blog – http://alzheimersocietyblog.ca/

Seven things about me:

7. My name is Ola, and I am the administrator of this blog, in conjunction with my role as Project Coordinator of the EnAbling Change Project at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

6. I love all mediums of art! Among many favourites, my Canadian painters of choice are Mary Pratt and Norval Morrisseau. I am also a huge fan of photographer Peter Beste.

5. I am also a working journalist and features editor for a women’s lifestyle magazine.

4. I have a strong passion for music. With humble beginnings in music journalism, my roots of expertise are in heavy metal (and all of its sub-genres), yet my aural taste is vast. I can listen to Dancehall one minute, Puccini the next.

3. I am obsessed with culture, specifically the topic of ethnic foods.When I travel, I am at my best.

2. I do not believe in stigma, exclusion, racism or prejudice.

1. I believe in action through art, celebrating abilities and equality.