Ice Art in the Streets of Northampton this Friday

2nd Annual Northampton Ice Art Festival
Friday, Feb. 10th, 2012

For the second year in a row the streets of Northampton will be filled with ice shavings and the sound of chisels & chain saws while sculptors and ice carvers create magnificent works out of ice.  This year’s Northampton Ice Art Festival will take place on Friday, February 10th.  Artists will begin working at 10am on Friday, and will have completed their works by evening- spectators can check out the process throughout the day, then check back later on to see the finished product.

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The event is part of February’s Arts Night Out Northampton event, sponsored by the Northampton Center for the Arts.  Ice sculptures will be at many locations throughout town, and many galleries and businesses will be open and displaying work as part of the event as well.  Weather permitting, the sculptures will remain in town throughout the weekend!  This year’s ice sculptors are coming to the project from a variety of backgrounds- there are sculptors of all types (snow included), installation artists, carvers, and even a painter!  For more information on the event, visit nohoarts.org.  The Ice Art Festival showcases art in an infrequently utilized medium- don’t miss this opportunity to see the beautiful, unique, and ephemeral works of art!

Human Library Event Helps Participants Move Beyond Stereotypes

Williams College Invites Community to Experience the Human Library on February 10 & 11, 2012

Williams College invites all members of the community to experience the Human Library, Friday, Feb. 10, from 11am-3pm. and Saturday, Feb. 11, from 1-3pm. at Paresky Center on the Williams College campus. This is a free, interactive event and reservations are not required. The Human Library at Williams contains 35 to 40 books: living people who have volunteered to be “checked out” for 25 to 30 minutes each. As a reader, a visitor will be able to start a one-on-one conversation with any book in the Library. This is an opportunity to borrow another person for a given time and ask them what you want to know. The goal is for members of our community—both on campus and off—to learn more about each other, to explore and move beyond stereotypes, and to develop a greater understanding of each person’s unique story.

The idea of checking a person out from a library sounds like it came out of a futuristic science fiction novel.  In reality, it’s actually part of Williams College’s Human Library event in Williamstown, MA!  Instead of a traditional library where books and checked out and read, the human library is full of people who can be “checked out” and asked questions!  The human books will answer questions and help explain to their “readers” everything there is to know about their topic.  The goal of the event is to build community, encourage community members to learn more about each others’ life experiences, and to help the community begin to move beyond stereotypes.

Human books are available on topics like evangelical Christianity, feminism, Olympic athletics, Iraq War veterans, and more.  Each topic is something that the human book has experienced in their own lives, and the information provided is firsthand.  The event is appropriate for teens and parents- older kids can learn about acceptance and reducing prejudice, and can use the event to supplement cultural studies and/or studies of race, gender, and privilege.  The Human Library will be open at the college’s Paresky Center on February 10th from 11am-3pm and February 11th from 1-3pm.  For more information, call 413-527-9277.  The event is free and open to all.

A campus map can be found on the web at www.williams.edu.

Mardi Gras Costume Exhibit in the Hilltowns

Mardi Gras Costume Exhibit
During Winklepicker Festival in Ashfield
Feb. 17-18, 2012

Mardi Gras is incredibly rich in culture, a fact that sets it apart from the majority of other American celebrations; a visit Winklepicker Festival's Mardi Gras Costume Exhibit can supplement studies of American culture, fashion, costume design, sewing, or art. Opening night: Friday, Feb. 16th at 7pm.

In New England, costumes are generally reserved for Halloween (and maybe the occasional themed party).  In New Orleans, however, costumes play an incredibly important role in the celebration of Mardi Gras.  Families can learn about costume culture and creation at the Winklepicker Festival’s costume exhibit coming to Ashfield, MA on February 17th-19th, 2012!

The festival’s theme is Mardi Gras, as both events happen on the same weekend this year, and there will be Mardi Gras-style events taking place all weekend.  Included in the events is the opportunity to visit an exhibit about the serious art of Mardi Gras costuming.  The pieces created and worn vary greatly- as there is never one theme for the festival (outfits can be as outlandish as a wearable clawfoot tub!).  Costumes are worn throughout Mardi Gras for parades and balls (held by groups called krewes).  But it’s not just the wearing of the costume that is significant.  Participants spend all year making their outfits and will pay hundreds of dollars for materials- costumes are incredibly intricate, elaborate, and are seeped creativity.

On display during the costume exhibit will be handmade costumes worn by members of a few different Mardi Gras krewes,  and many handmade masks, as well as photos and videos of costumes and traditional Mardi Gras celebrations.

Opening night is Friday, Feb. 16th where there will be a presentation on costuming with Nancy Werner.  Beginning at 7pm, the opening will include an informal discussion of costuming techniques and costume culture- attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and will learn from firsthand experiences.

Mardi Gras is incredibly rich in culture, a fact that sets it apart from the majority of other American celebrations; a visit to the exhibit can supplement studies of American culture, fashion, costume design, sewing, or art.  In addition to opening night, the gallery will be open on Saturday, Feb 17th from 10am-5pm and Sunday, Feb 18th from 1-5pm. For more information call Nan at 413-628-4003

Art Adventures Await at MASS MoCA

Free Day at MASS MoCA
Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Along with the museum’s exhibits will be special events just for FREE Day, including an elevator music festival, mermaid parade, art making, tours, and a dance party!

Have you been wondering what’s inside the tall, 19th century industrial buildings at Mass MoCA in North Adams, MA?  Now’s your chance!  The museum’s annual FREE Day takes place on Saturday, February 11th from 11am-8pm.  Visitors will be able to view the museum in its entirety- no exhibits will be excluded!  Along with the museum’s exhibits will be special events just for FREE Day, including an elevator music festival, mermaid parade, art making, tours, and a dance party!

The elevator music festival takes place (where else!) inside an oversized elevator, where musicians will play short, intimate concerts for the elevator travelers, bringing new meaning and purpose to elevator music.

Inspired by James Grashow’s colorful sea creatures, Under the Sea is featured as the current KidSpace exhibit, where the mermaid parade will have visitors parading through the museum while decked out in mermaid garb and/or sporting cardboard fish created at the museum!  There will be prizes for creativity (BYO flippers, triton, and seaweed).  Along with the opportunity to create ocean-inspired art, there will be activities inspired by other exhibits, as well.

Kids can make bridges from toothpicks and clay, as inspired by the film work of Oded Hirsch (it’s a study in architecture and design!).  Another project asks visitors to create works in the style of Sol Lewitt, and another will create a community installation inspired by Mary Lum’s “Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor.”

Tours of the museum will leave the lobby every 30 minutes.  There are many of activities, but there is ample time to fit in everything!  A visit to the museum this Saturday (or any day, really!) will teach kids about contemporary art and will allow kids to practice working with different mediums and learning to use artists’ work as inspiration.  Perhaps they’ll learn to see connections between artists, too!  For more information, call 800-662-2111 or visit www.massmoca.org.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Timothy Valentine]

Non-Commercial Way to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Be Mine: Chocolate & Valentines
Non-Commercial Way to Celebrate Valentine’s Day
February 11th & 12th at Old Sturbridge Village

Discover the history of chocolate and Valentine cards at OSV this weekend. A visit to the village during the special Valentine weekend is a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day non-commercially, and is also a great way to teach kids about life in early America!

Even when you’re immersed in the 19th century at Old Sturbridge Village, Valentine’s Day is still about sharing cards and eating chocolate.  OSV’s “Be Mine: Chocolate and Valentines” takes place from 9:30am to 4pm this coming weekend, February 11th and 12th.  Visitors to the village will learn about the history of chocolate in the United States, as well as how Valentine cards became an important part of celebrating Valentine’s Day.  Historians at the village will show visitors the process of grinding roasted cacao beans to use in making chocolate cake and a spicy hot chocolate drink (not like the hot chocolate we have today!).  Kids can create their own Valentines, an activity that they may be eager to take part in after learning where the tradition comes from (Hint: it involves a stationery maker, his young daughter, and an English tradition!)!  A visit to the village during the special Valentine weekend is a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day non-commercially, and is also a great way to teach kids about life in early America!  Learning about early customs and traditions can spark a discussion on the evolution of culture, and can supplement learning about customs and traditions for many different holidays in a variety of cultures.  For more information, visit www.osv.org or call OSV at 800-733-1830.

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