A space smell-scape and a sights-and-sounds birding path will be on display at The DoSeum later this year, courtesy of two artists-in-residence at the children’s museum.
San Antonio-based artists Mark Menjivar and Amada Miller were selected from a pool of regional artists with experience creating interactive art. They each will create an interactive display that promotes the intersection of art and science. The works will debut Nov. 21 and remain on display through Jan. 5, 2020.
The purpose of the artist-in-residence program, which began in 2017, is to expose kids and families to the artistic process and connect the art experience with STEM and literacy themes.
Miller’s project, Making Scents of Outer Space, take kids on a multi-sensory journey through space, including a spacecraft launch, a visit to the International Space Station, and traveling by a black hole. Sensory pods – equipped with the sights, sounds, and smells of planets and stars – will be housed in the special exhibit gallery of The DoSeum.
Miller chose a list of smells she compiled from scientific research about molecules in space and existing interviews with astronauts. She is working with a perfumer to create the scents, which she will mix herself.
“In my work, I connect with a global vision of exploration and discovery, utilizing scientific data to present a new way of looking at the world,” Miller stated. “Sourcing materials and information from NASA, the European Space Agency, resource libraries, and archives, I collect and work with material and research that build a narrative around these topics.”
Menjivar’s Birding the DoSeum will feature 12 aluminum boxes with life-sized pictures of local birds that emit the bird’s call. They will be placed throughout the museum in locations where the birds would typically be found, like great horned owls nestled in small, dark spaces and sparrows collecting crumbs at the cafe. Visitors will be able to pick up a guide with information about the birds they might encounter at a “birding center” in the main lobby.
“Both the artists ask the kids to observe closely,” said Orlando Bolaños, art education manager at The DoSeum. “That inquiry and questioning of something is what we want to encourage in our kids. Miller and Menjivar’s proposals lead us in that direction.”
Before the exhibitions open in November, The DoSeum will be hosting workshops so the community can help design the displays. Recently, children drew their own versions of birdhouses, which Menjivar will use to create the birdhouses for the exhibit.
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“The project is not about me making work for the community, but it’s about making work with the community,” Menjivar said. “People will be able to come into the museum and look, listen, and explore, but then continue to do that same exact thing when they go to their house and the park. It will give kids and their parents an opportunity to engage with the world around them after leaving the museum.”