Art in the Park Grant Puppets Wrap-up: Spider

The last puppet in this 2015 puppet review blog series is the spider. These four animals – spider, owl, bear and turtle, were able to be made thanks to the Art in the Park grant given to us last February by the Asheville Area Arts Council. Each one represents a quality needed in a growing community.

Spider

Grayson Morris, maker of the owl, also made the graceful spider puppet. Spider represents the quality of creativity. She is a weaver, creating delicate, useful structures from her own body. In mythology she has many names and is often seen as the connector between past, present and future, holder of fate.

A healthy community needs the quality of creativity to solve problems and engage it’s members. We are co-creating our community all the time. Let’s make it good for each other.

Grayson made the spider puppet from cardboard, wooden dowels and a lot of ingenuity. She made a paper model first. The puppet is another backpack style puppet and all the legs move individually via fising line. There was a lot of math involved in making this big gal. She still needs some adjusting because her legs don’t close all the way, making it hard to fit her in a vehicle for transport.

Our clubhouse has a motto that relates to the power of the spider: “Create things you wish existed!” Let’s go out and do that right now 🙂

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Art in the Park Grant Wrap-up: Owl

1898001_906535229437651_7763324963112960832_nNumber three in this 2015 puppet review is the elegant owl. These four animals were able to be made thanks to the Art in the Park grant given to us last February by the Asheville Area Arts Council. Each one represents a quality needed in a growing community.

Owl

The Owl represents wisdom. Ours is a snowy owl, kin to Harry Potter’s Hedwig. The owl sees what is hidden to most. She can see a small mouse from very high up and can see in the dark. She is associated in mythology with the moon and intuition and is the totem animal of Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom and a fierce warrior, as owl is a fierce hunter.

A healthy community needs clear vision, without illusion. It needs intuition as well.

Grayson Morris made our beautiful owl from a combination of materials covered in paper mache. The understructure is bamboo, foam and wood. She is a backpack puppet and can be operated by 1 or 3 people depending on which set of wings she has on. The paper mache surface is painted with house paint and acrylic paint and her ruff is made of deconstructed silk flowers glued on.

Here she is with her cloth wings, operated by Paul Hersey

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Here she is at OrganicFest and LAFF, operated by Karen and Geneva respectively.

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Art in the Park Grant Wrap Up: Bear

I wanted to collect some of the best pictures of the new community puppets in one place. Bear is the second in this 2015 wrap up.

These four animals were able to be made thanks to the Art in the Park grant given to us last February by the Asheville Area Arts Council. Each one represents a quality needed in a growing community: nurturing, strength, wisdom and creativity.

Bear

Bear represents the quality of strength. In mythology he often plays the role of healer or teacher. He reminds us to tune into the cycles of the year, especially the need for rest in the dark time. He is tall,  imposing, courageous, yet also graceful and able to bend and move quickly. Strength with flexibility is the strongest kind.

A healthy community needs the bear’s qualities: strength with flexibility, periodic healing and rest.

Geneva Bierce Wilson is a genius at using recycled materials in unusual and creative ways. The bear is designed to be worn by one person. The puppeteer’s back legs are the bear’s back legs. The front legs hang from a flexible rod that arches over the puppeteer’s head. They hang somewhat freely and so move up and down like real legs. The head dangles off the end of the rod and can be tilted from side to side in a quizzical manner. The fabric of his body is the lightweight black netting used by gardeners to keep birds off blueberry bushes! Geneva cut and tied thousands of strips of black garbage bags onto the net for the back and head. Then she switched materials to old VHS tape, which has a gorgeous shimmer in the sunlight. Bear’s legs were made of long fringes of this. He is a hybrid of a puppet and costume, with several parts tied onto the puppeteer.

Here are some work in progress pictures:

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And here are some of him in action!

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Art in the Park Wrap Up: Grandmother Turtle

I wanted to collect some of the best pictures of the new community puppets in one place. These four animals were able to be made thanks to the Art in the Park grant given to us last February by the Asheville Area Arts Council. Each one represents a quality needed by a growing community: nuturing, strength, wisdom and creativity. First in the series is Grandmother Turtle.

Turtle

Grandmother Turtle represents the qualities of a nurturing home. She is sheltered and protected by her strong beautiful shell. She is slow and steady and grounded. We all know the fable of the tortoise and the hare –  tortoise and her cousin turtle are not sprinters, they look to the long run. Turtle wins the marathon because she is steady and determined.  In Native American stories she often represents Mother Earth and our continent of North America is sometimes called Turtle Island.

Connecting to the natural world as our home and paying attention to how our actions affect our families, city and world in the long run are important qualities for a healthy community.

I made this one (Jennifer here) using the classic method of sculpting in clay and making a paper mache cast of the sculpture. Then I sewed up some legs, tail and head out of some burlap-like upholstery fabrics I rescued from a dumpster. The face was embroidered and appliqued.

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Here are a few of my favorites of her out and about:

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Gratitude!

1898001_906535229437651_7763324963112960832_nIt’s Thanksgiving and I want to take a moment to say we are thankful for the opportunities that have powered our volunteer group to new heights in 2015.

This has been a big year for Street Creature. We started the year by applying for the Art in the Park Grant and getting it! This resulted in the creation of four new puppets, and the participation of our creatures at many more Asheville area events than in previous years.

We are ending the year in our new clubhouse, celebrated with a wonderful grand opening. We started hosting field trips and are currently dreaming of all kinds of puppety goodness for 2016.

We’ve reached many more people with our giant puppets, increased the size of our core group, and feel inspired to continue to grow in creative ways.

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Field Trips at the Clubhouse!

IMG_0236Street Creature hosted it’s first puppet field trip a few days ago. An Isaac Dickson kindergarden class of 21 came to the clubhouse and enjoyed an hour and a half of puppety enrichment!

The kids were open mouthed in wonder upon arriving and seeing the colorful giant puppets everywhere. Grayson Morris, who has many years of classroom experience, first introduced them to different kinds of puppets: marionettes, toy theater, shadow puppets, rod puppets and more.

Then we had a craft period with 4 different variety of puppet making and playing activities. There were several parents in the group which helped when little fingers had a hard time with tape and scissors. Because they were able to change activities at will, the children remained very engaged the whole time.

Grayson finished up by telling her Rainbow Crow story and having the kids take turns acting it out with her large cardboard puppets. Thanks to Isaac Disckson, especially kindergarden teacher Scott Fisher for giving us the opportunity.

We definitely want to do more of this next semester.  If you’d like to schedule a field trip for your children’s group, contact Grayson at katievenezolana@hotmail.com.

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Grand Opening!

geneva grandThe Grand Opening was a big success. Over 50 people came! We had a lovely spread of refreshments, put together by Geneva, Jon and Cece. We had three different hands-on puppet making stations – felt finger puppets, cardboard mouth puppets, and an overhead projector with black paper and scissors for playing with shadows.

Grayson welcomed everyone and gave an overview of all the wonderful things going on this year, with some help from Jen and Cece.

There were many familiar faces and some new ones too, sharing our excitement about the possibilities offered by our beautiful clubhouse.

The second half of the event featured 3 puppet performances, all including projection in some way.

Lisa Sturz of Red Herring Puppets brought an excerpt from her holiday show La Befana. You can see the full production this coming weekend at Asheville Community Theater. She and Marsdon Blow orchestrated a very complex and beautiful two projector shadow show.

Sheila Thibodeaux and her musical husband Richard did a shadow puppet illustration of an original song about an old horse. They brought heart and humor to the story.

The final act was by Grayson Morris, who used an interesting document camera technique. She had made toy theater type backgrounds and puppets and projected the performance of these small pieces of art onto a large screen. They told another song-based story. This one was a dreamlike piece by Joanna Newsome “Monkey and Bear”. Grayson sang the song herself while puppeteering the show. Inspiring!

Thanks everyone who came and celebrated with us!

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