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Queens Chronicle

Gift-making workshops for the youngsters

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Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 11:50 am, Thu Nov 29, 2012.

The SculptureCenter is delving into the world of hands-on programming with a selection of holiday workshops for the young ones.

The art center and gallery, located on Long Island City’s shortest street — Purves Street — has experimented with engaging its audience in the past at the LIC Block Party in September, spokesman Frederick Janka said. There, guests assisted with building a sculpture as well as finding their spirit animals during group speed dates — you had to be there to understand — but with this second venture into engaging the audience, the SculptureCenter will gear the program for those budding artists 4 to 12 years old.

“We like to think that this adds additional engagement opportunities with our innovative and cutting-edge exhibition program,” Janka said.

In the spirit of the holidays, the Dec. 8 workshops will show kids how to make gifts their parents will treasure.

Artist Gina Beavers, who creates thick acrylic paintings, will show students how to make painted scarves.

“I chose this workshop because I had painted a silk scarf as a child and still have it and wear it,” she said. “There is something beautifully simple about the brushstrokes and color coming together on a flowing piece of fabric that can be worn easily and also endure. It’s like wearing a painting around your neck!”

The children will be encouraged to design scarves that reflect their interests or the likes of a person they are making the wearable artworks for.

Leah Wolff will be teaching workshop goers how to make a clay abacus — one of those counting devices many of us played with as children — by scooting a colorful bead from one side of a series of rods to the other.

“This workshop will show how art can translate ideas into objects that can be used to solve problems or better understand a subject.Also, the act of making ‘functional’ art blurs the distinction between ‘contemporary art’ and what is considered to be ‘craft,’” Wolff said.

Wolff in her own work likes to tinker with the idea of purely functional objects. She make sculptures out of clay that resemble tools or scientific models, but instead of the piece being precise and sturdy there might be cracks in the clay or the handle might be slumped.

“This difference traces back to my process, which is methodologically at odds with a classical scientific pursuit,” she said.

Kim Holleman, another workshop leader, will show her pupils what she already loves to create — miniature worlds — but will tweak her lesson slightly for the workshop. Holleman typically makes terrariums out of pieces of plastic, glass shards, chemical-based materials “and so on — sort of creating nature scenes out of that which threatens it: chemicals and plastics,” she said.

For the Dec. 8 classes she will show attendees how to make traditional living worlds inside the glass jars and vases, but at the same time she will keep her affinity for bold colors and unusual materials.

“I’ve introduced brightly colored, even wildly colored plant-friendly materials to keep them looking like living pop sculptures as well as living mini-plant habitats,” she said, adding that everyone can benefit from working with plants in their daily lives.

Other guest artists will host a sprawling handmade wrapping-paper station.

Adding to the seasonal cheer of the holiday program, cookies and hot chocolate will be provided courtesy of Sage General Store.

Parents and caregivers are required to stay with their children and are encouraged to create along with them.

Winter workshops

When: Saturday, Dec. 8 noon to 2 p.m.

Where: SculptureCenter, 44-19 Purves St., LIC

Tickets: $15; $10 for members

(718) 361-1750

sculpture-center.org

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