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Art Fusion: Rhinestones rev up self-portraits

Art Fusion: Rhinestones rev up self-portraits

February 1, 2016 // by Kiersten Barnes

Each month, MOCA Jacksonville hosts Art Fusion, a free family-friendly program where guests make art inspired by works on display in our galleries. In anticipation of two upcoming featured exhibitions, In Living Color and Time Zones, our February Art Fusion activities focus on some of the new works that will be featured.

Looking through In Living Color, I was instantly drawn to the works by Mickalene Thomas entitled When Ends Meet, a pair of screen-printed portraits fully bedazzled in rhinestones. Selecting her works as inspiration for an Art Fusion activity was almost a no-brainer. I knew children (and adults) would be drawn to her sparkly prints. But how do you translate such a detailed, time-intensive piece into a simplified, kid-friendly, and creative art activity? I started with the basics: rhinestones. We have to bedazzle. What kid can resist a big pile of sparkles?

Art Fusion Mickalene Thomas b
Image courtesy of Kiersten Lampe.

Thomas applies hundreds of rhinestones to her screen prints, a task that would take many hours. For Art Fusion, rhinestones will accent our work. We will create self-portraits as an added challenge for guests.

When I test an activity for Art Fusion, I usually end up surrounded by piles of materials as I experiment with different ideas and methods through trial and error. For these Mickalene Thomas-inspired portraits, I had to think through which materials would create the best the self-portraits. I ultimately decided to use markers because they are bold enough to stand up to the shiny rhinestones, and glue sticks will adhere to the ink. Also, children love markers. When I give school tours and ask students which material is their favorite, I always expect them to say something unusual like oil pastels or paint, but they always tell me markers are the best.

Art Fusion Mickalene Thomas c
Image courtesy of Kiersten Lampe.
Art Fusion Mickalene Thomas d
Image courtesy of Kiersten Lampe.

Once my self-portrait was complete, I glued on my selection of rhinestones to accent my hair and shirt. Check out my completed example! Join us for Art Fusion in Hemming Park at noon-4 p.m. Sunday, February 7, and make your own bedazzled portrait. Play games in the park while you listen to live music.

Don't miss Art Fusion during Downtown Art Walk at 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, February 3, in one of MOCA's classrooms on the fifth floor. Museum admission is free during Art Walk. Inspired by Frank Stella's Sinjerli Variations series from In Living Color, guests will use protractors and paints to create colorful geometric paintings.

Art Fusion Mickalene Thomas e
Mickalene Thomas, When Ends Meet, 2007. Screenprint with hand-applied rhinestones, 31 7/8 x 28 inches. Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer. © 2015 Mickalene Thomas / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo credit: Strode Photographic.

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