We are thrilled to be catching up with our friends across the pond: Peabody Essex Museum, Massachusetts as they prepare for their epic 1-day Big Draw Festival 2017: Living Lines takeover encompassing everything from stop motion animation workshops to a GIF photo booth!
If anyone can bring out the animator if you this #LivingLines17 Big Draw Festival it’s PEM!
Enjoy the interview!
BD: Can you share with us your plans are for this year’s Big Draw Festival event in terms of the theme, scale and the number of participants?
PEM: We are doing a one-day festival on October 9th, which is a holiday Monday here in the States. It is also closing day for a large exhibition, so we are expecting a good crowd of visitors that day! From 10am-5pm, we’ve packed the day with animation-themed programming, including two workshops (stop-motion and flip-books), some drop-in artmaking (thaumatropes), computer animation, an animated GIF photo booth, and film screenings.
BD: You won a Big Draw Award for your excellent event in 2014 - what would you say were the main skills and lessons that you have gained since? Any advice for those joining in The Big Draw Festival for the first time?
PEM: Each year’s theme really gets us thinking outside the box, and we’ve experimented with formats over the years. In 2016, we expanded from a single day event to celebrating all month long, with programming sprinkled throughout the month. Although each individual program went well and had great participation, we did not see many repeat visitors over the course of the month. This year, we’re returning to the one-day festival format because we’ve found it to be more successful among our audiences.
BD: What keeps Peabody Essex Museum coming back to The Big Draw Festival each year? Are there any big advantages you think museums and galleries benefit from when taking part?
PEM: We’ve been excited to use the event as an opportunity to plan programming that goes beyond our collections and exhibitions. It has helped us strengthen our ties to the local artist community as it provides more opportunities to bring guest artists in to lead workshops and programs.
BD: What are your general thoughts on visual literacy generally and how would you usually work this into your events programmes? Do you consider there to be other types of literacy outside the realm of drawing?
PEM: Visual literacy is an important component of our education strategies. PEM’s mission is to link art to the wider world and back in transformative way, and we work with school groups and public programs visitors to spark critical and creative thinking through hands-on artmaking activities.
Beyond visual literacy, we are using neuroscience to explore concepts of emotional literacy. We’ve begun to thoughtfully incorporate brain science principles into our exhibition design and interpretation. Thanks to a grant from the Barr Foundation in Boston, MA, PEM recently launched a groundbreaking neuroscience initiative, and we’ve hired a full-time PhD neuroscience researcher who will publish recommendations for the museum field at large.
BD: You currently have exhibitions on Asian art from India and China as well as Native American art. Do you think these displays highlight any interesting historical or cultural differences to how people have drawn or made marks, and how this ties in with The Big Draw charity’s message of visual literacy?
PEM: Our collections and exhibitions absolutely highlight the various ways humans have been making their marks on the world throughout history. More than highlighting differences, I think it makes it easier to relate to distant time periods or distant cultures. In Yin Yu Tang, an 18th century house from southeastern China that was transported and reconstructed here in Salem, visitors can see how generations of one family wrote on the walls or arranged their prized possessions or decorated their furniture, and there are many surprising connections that can be made between their life and the life here and now in America.
In addition to our permanent galleries, we also have a temporary exhibition up that features the horror and sci-fi film ephemera collection of Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett. It’s a fantastic look at inspiration and the impact the artworks have had on the musician’s own creativity. When it comes to Kirk Hammett, a picture is not just worth a thousand words, it is also worth a thousand musical notes. The exhibition has given us an opportunity to use visual literacy to explore concepts of fear and the impact horror has on the human brain through exhibition sections that focus on specific graphic elements like eyes. We’ve explore the horror genre’s ties to societal fears and notions through the ways women and “the other” are depicted in the film posters.
BD: The last word is yours! Any final thoughts can go here:
PEM: On a more personal note, I almost did a little jig when I learned about the 2017 theme. I grew up trying to create Will Vinton- and Aardman-style stop motion animations using clay figures and stuffed animals. I loved making flip books. As an adult, I continue to be a big fan of animation in all its forms, and I am so excited to share that passion with the Peabody Essex Museum audience during The Big Draw Festival 2017!
CHECK OUT Peabody Esex Museum's #LivingLines17 events: 1-day Big Draw Festival 2017: Living Lines on 9th October.
The Big Draw's worldwide impact is made possible by the support of many organisations and individuals who share its vision. Without them and the commitment of hundreds of venues across the globe, our mission would be unachievable. Interested in becoming a festival Sponsor-Partner? Take a look here for some of the benefits.
Find events in the UK HERE or WORLDWIDE HERE. Or search by date HERE.
Read our tips on getting involved in our October #LivingLines17 Festival News here.
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We hope you enjoyed our interview with Peabody Essex Museum! If you have been inspired by their insights why not become a part of the world's largest drawing festival in 2017?
Anyone can organise an event, and you can register at any time! Click below to find out more about becoming a Big Draw Festival Organiser in 2017 for #LivingLines17: