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Smithsonian Associates
S. Dillon Ripley Center, 1100 Jefferson Drive, SW
Offering hands-on studio arts courses for over 40 years
Recent Activity
"Senses of Time: Video and Film-Based Works of Africa” is on view at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art (NMAA) through January 2, 2017. The exhibit shows six internationally renowned African artists’ films that explore the ways that the human body experiences and produces time. Sound like an odd and intriguing concept? I thought so, too. The exhibition is co-curated by Karen E. Milbourne, curator at the NMAA, and Mary “Polly” Nooter Roberts, professor in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA. Roberts also works with African art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA),... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2016 at S+ART
Yesterday was the final Drawing in Museums class that I wrote about last week and the week before. For the finale, we sketched sculptures of heads in the American Gallery. First, Paul inspired us with books full of incredible drawings by master artists, such as Michelangelo and Hans Holbein the Younger. Before class: Paul shares drawing books in the Kogod Courtyard After Paul's demo-sketch in the gallery, we spent the rest of class sketching. Paul encouraged us to warm-up by drawing various angles of the head we chose, “keeping it loose and light.” Here are photos of Paul teaching and... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2016 at S+ART
Last night was the last graffiti class! It was a blast. We met at Brookland Artspace and Lofts, a multi-use facility with residential and studio space for artists and their families. First we warmed up with crayons and paint markers on paper, then we made our own “tags,” or graffiti personal signatures, on canvas boards. For the latter half of class, we went outside to practice with spray-paint cans on cardboard and wooden boards set up to form a temporary wall. Our instructor, Rajan, demonstrated how to make different lines and effects. It was exciting to learn about this unique... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2016 at S+ART
Yesterday was the third Drawing in Museums class, which is flying by. Next week is our final session, and I will certainly miss it! Yesterday we all drew the same sculpture, The Dying Tecumseh. The sculpture sits below a winding, wide staircase. We all drew from different perspectives according to where we sat. I chose to sit on the floor by the sculpture’s feet, right here: Other students ventured up and sat up on various spots on the staircase. No matter where you sat, the sculpture provided an exciting and challenging subject to draw. Our instructor, Paul, encouraged us throughout... Continue reading
Posted Jul 27, 2016 at S+ART
Here’s an update on two classes, Drawing in Museums and Figure Drawing, that I wrote about last week. While both are drawing courses, they vary in subject, location, and teaching structure. Drawing in Museums meets every Tuesday afternoon in the American Art Museum. We sketch human subjects from paintings and sculptures. For Figure Drawing, we meet in a studio at the S. Dillon Ripley Center every Wednesday evening to draw from live models. Both classes develop fundamental observational skills but in different ways. Read on to find out what I learned in each class this week. Drawing in Museums This... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2016 at S+ART
*Graffiti comes from the word graffio, which means “a scratch” in Italian Last night I attended the first of a 2-session evening course, Introduction to Graffiti Art, taught by Rajan Sedalia. As you can tell by his website, Sedalia is a unique artist with a powerful message. His 2 hour class felt like 5 minutes because it was so captivating. Sedalia shared a brief and interesting history of graffiti art, which originated in the 1960s in Philadelphia and New York City. As a class, we brainstormed ideas of why someone would want to create graffiti. Our answers included the fact... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2016 at S+ART
*A blog post about TWO drawing classes I went to this week! Last night I attended the Figure Drawing course that I posted about on Tuesday. At the beginning of last night’s class, we reviewed and discussed the homework and then warmed up with about 20 minutes of gestural drawings from the live model. For the meat of the course, our wonderful instructor, Jamie Platt, taught us about proportion. She showed us how to use sighting sticks, which an artist uses to measure a specific part of the body, (ex: the head), in relation to other parts in order to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2016 at S+ART
Summer 2016 art classes are on a roll! Last week I attended the first of a 6-session Figure Drawing and Independent Projects class. Instructed by Jamie Combs Platt, this course offers insight into drawing the human body, with an opportunity to explore your own figure drawing project beyond the class curriculum. It covers beginning and advanced elements of composition, anatomy, and developing individual style. Each week we work from live models. Jamie teaches us about anatomy with our newfound friend, Bones the Skeleton. Time flies in the 3 hour class! For the first session, Jamie taught us about gestural drawing... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2016 at S+ART
Every summer, the Smithsonian hosts a Folklife Festival to celebrate cultures from around the globe. This year we’re celebrating Sounds of California and Basque country. A section of the National Mall grass has transformed into a melting pot of colorful traditions from these two fascinating and resilient cultures. As you wander through the festival, it’s easy to immerse yourself in the multitude of art workshops, performances, cooking demonstrations, delicious food stands, language lessons, and more. I loved the festival so much that I’ve been 4 times already, and I’ve learned something new each visit. This blog post will focus on—... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2016 at S+ART
The 2016 Smithsonian Folklife Festival has begun! Running June 29-July 4 and July 7-10 on The National Mall, this year’s festival celebrates the Basque country and the sounds of California. Next week, studio arts intern Haley will visit the festival and report back with her impressions and share some of her great photos of the art and artisans featured. In the meantime, check out for a full schedule of events and activities. And from Smithsonian Studio Arts to you, Happy Fourth of July! Image credit: Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2016 at S+ART
"In art, when you are creative and inventive, you can work with what you have and arrive at something new." -Joseph Cassar Edgar Degas, Bowing Dancer, (1880-1885) Edgar Degas was an artistic genius. He studied classical techniques and is known as one of the founders of Impressionism. Fun fact: he didn't have enough money to always buy canvas or paper, so he often drew and painted on cardboard. This is just one nugget of knowledge I learned last Saturday at the Smithsonian Associates incredible workshop,“Learn, Look, Create: Investigating the Art of Drawing.” Led by artist and art historian Joseph Cassar,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2016 at S+ART
…painting a picture is like fighting a battle; and trying to paint a picture is, I suppose, like trying to fight a battle. It is, if anything, more exciting than fighting it successfully. But the principle is the same. -Winston Churchill, Painting as a Pastime (1965) Mimizan Plage, Landes. Churchill (1920) Throughout history, a select few political leaders have painted as a hobby: Winston Churchill, Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and George W. Bush. Although painting and political policy seem to be polar opposites and both too time consuming to pursue simultaneously, these four politicians exemplify that painting is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2016 at S+ART
There are MILLIONS of pounds of plastic in our oceans today, and that number is scarily increasing. At the current rate, the World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur Foundation reported that the weight of plastic in oceans will be greater than that of fish by 2050.[1] The increasingly threatening plastic weight in our oceans flows through the ocean’s tides and accumulates in giant patches. According to the Washed Ashore project, the most well-known patch is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area twice the size of Texas.[2] Common plastic products include bags, bottles, toys, toothbrushes and fishing gear. This... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2016 at S+ART
Photo by Haley Moen In April 2016, I conducted a 4-week independent study project on an indigenous type of pottery in the Pastaza region of Ecuador. Specifically, I lived and learned at Rosa Dahua’s house in a small city called Puyo, where approximately 36,659 mestizo and native people reside. Puyo on map of Ecuador Rosa's house and studio Photo by Haley Moen Rosa is Kichwa, one of many native nationalities in Ecuador. She is a master potter of ceramics, a traditional craft that is fundamental to Kichwa identity. Traditionally, a Kichwa woman was not considered worthy unless she made ceramics,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2016 at S+ART
Hello! My name is Haley Moen, and I am super excited to contribute to the Smithsonian Studio Arts blog for summer 2016. My blog posts will focus on the following content: The intersection of international relations and art Selected Smithsonian studio art workshops from June to August 2016 Current Smithsonian exhibits Local and historical artist biographies I am a senior at Brown University, where I study International Relations with a focus on security and society. I am also an avid art student. Below are photos of some of my art. Fine details and color fascinate me. For My Parents Oil... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2016 at S+ART
Hello! The Smithsonian Studio Arts blog has been on hiatus during our intern-less winter and spring semesters. Happily, our brilliant and talented summer intern - who will introduce herself to you very soon - has just arrived and will start blogging next week. In the meantime, please enjoy this wonderful post by long-time Smithsonian Studio Arts drawing and printmaking instructor, Max-Karl Winkler. -Kathy Fuller, Smithsonian Studio Arts Program Coordinator Elephants, Accordions, and Exquisite Corpses: A Visit to “Artists’ Books & Africa” Tucked away in the long hall connecting the Smithsonian Institution’s Ripley Center and the National Museum of African Art... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2016 at S+ART