Very recently I had the privilege of attending the latest Exhibit at the Arizona Museum for Youth
“Jump To Japan” Exhibition
Arizona Museum For Youth
35 North Robson Street
Mesa, AZ 85201
This museum had a ton of material to offer for children. It was essentially a commemorative thanks to Japan for their contribution to youth development through anime cartoon work. This exhibit had more then just artwork though. The Museum had stations where children could interact with their own anime characters and create newer characters as well as hang their work around the area. In addition to the stages there were illusionary activities and rooms where cameras and lighting allowed the children to become apart of a live performance piece casted on the walls in a shadow-like form. The hanging works by famous cartoon designers and animators were also interactive as many of it had televisions and live video streaming along-side work. Another interesting twist was the three dimensional macro-life sized characters and animals that inhabited the exhibit. It created a scenario in which the children felt surrounded by a dreamy and extraordinary experience.
Being that almost all of the work was untitled (at least the work I was most fascinated with I do apologie for lack of artist backgrounds and descriptions. Below I have analyzed three works I thoroughly enjoyed.
1) Serenity 2009, Artist: Untitled
This work was fascinating. It captured a naturalistic landscaped in which the weather was at a dim glow of the sunset. The colors were very plush and had a hazy glow that casted over the entire landscape. In addition there were machines and various other technology that appeared to be floating in space. This stunned me at first sight so luckily there was an artist statement beside the work. It explained how societies goal has always been to allow creation to be used as a means of exciting the world, yet creating things that mesh with the environment as harmoniously as possible. I think the work was very successful and it’s scale complimented an engaging experience which the Museum I believe agreed seeing as the work was the first recognizable art work in the front entrance of the exhibit.
2) Performance Piece, Untitled Projector Current
This was probably the most exciting activity judging by the large quantity of children gathered around it as well as the fact that parents actually engaged in this activity whereas most other areas the parent just stood in the background and watch. Now the excitement even from when I was there stemmed from the projector running from the ceiling projecting a live image of me not only in the room but was able to mesh footage from other areas in the gallery. So although you may be the only one in the room. You may see a ghost like apparition of other people in the room depending on whether or not other people were mingling around other rooms with a similar camera. Kids were floored! I enjoyed trying to figure out the phenomenon as well. The projection was onto the walls surrounding this room which made it life size. These were plain white walls with a colored projection.
3) Activity, Jump To Japan, Animations 2010
This was the station I enjoyed hands-down beyond any of the other stations. This was a small 4 X 4 ft. table with four surrounding traced light machines. Children are encouraged to pick up one of the fifty or so stencils of anime body parts and use as many you’d like to produce your own anime character incorporate it into a traced background as well. Unfortunately I believe this would have been slightly more successful if there were colored pencils or crayons around being that kids of enliven their work and be inspired to push it further rather than making a souvenir type of work. The sheets were very tiny to work with as well so it made the work easy to take home with little to know problems however I saw most of the work in a trash bin near the area which showed me they weren’t really impressed with the activity nor their work. I think it was the start to an activity that could be heavily improved in future exhibitions.
Overall I liked the environment of the exhibit. It really catered to the joy and excitement in children being that children aren’t really into just glancing at a bunch of artwork. They were encouraged to run around, have fun, and create in the process. A lot of color surrounded them which for me was symbolic for ideas and imagination. I always find children creating better work when surrounded by color and an environment that is something new and bizarre yet warm and inviting.
Reminder! These prints are still being shown at the Arizona State Art Museum for Youth throughout the Spring so be sure to stop by and be bedazzled by Japanese and their contribution to youth development!