Third Saturday: 5 Questions for Virginia Catherall
(House Sculptures in 5 Blocks Gallery)
UMFA Blog: Okay, what are some of the basics of the Third Saturday series: what is it, and when does it occur? Who usually attends, and who would you like to see attend that you don’t see as often?
Virginia: Every month we have a program called Third Saturdays. Third Saturdays are an art studio experience for families on the Third Saturday of each month from 1 – 4 pm in the classroom of the UMFA. Each month a different hands-on activity is linked to the UMFA’s collection. Activities are designed for children 4-12 years of age, and parents or older siblings are invited to participate in the project. We usually get families and community groups that come to these. We would love to see more families from around the valley come.
UMFA Blog: What can someone expect from a Third Saturday at the UMFA, from the practical information (parking, finding the activity in the museum) to the activity itself?
Virginia: On Third Saturdays, people can park anywhere on campus except handicap stalls because on weekends, parking is open and free. When families come to the museum, they are greeted by a museum educator who explains the project and gives them a short treasure hunt that takes them through the museum to see three works of art that will inspire them to create the artwork. After getting inspiration from the museum’s art, they go to the classroom on the first floor to create their artwork. They get instruction from a museum educator and help from volunteers to create their artwork. Families are allowed to stay as long as they want to finish their work and then they get to take their art home.
UMFA Blog: Just this last Saturday, the activity was based on the exhibition 5 Blocks, wherein students in Salt Lake City explored five blocks around their school to create fantastic sculptures of their neighborhood. Why did you feel this exhibition was important? What was your favorite part, personally, about 5 Blocks?
Virginia: 5 Blocks is a great collaboration between the Museum and local schools. This artwork by children and teens shows their deep thinking and creativity in interacting with their surroundings and neighborhood. Not only was it a learning activity for the student artists, but visitors to the exhibition can learn about how to have curiosity about their own homes and neighborhoods. The neighborhood walking tour that people can take home with them is one of my favorite parts of the exhibition. This allows people to have a small experience that is similar to what the students did to create their artwork.
UMFA Blog: The most recent 5 Blocks Third Saturday program presented the chance to make a sculpture of your house, or another favorite building. Which building did you sculpt, and why?
Virginia: I made a sculpture of my own house. This year, I moved into a great 100 year old house that is beautiful. I wanted to recreate the strong horizontal lines I find not only in my own Craftsman house but also in the many similar houses in my neighborhood. There is definitely a unique look to my neighborhood that makes for a wonderful sculpture.
UMFA Blog: The UMFA is such an unwieldy thing: we have exciting contemporary art, ancient hidden gems, and pieces from around the world; we serve a wide Western region, we are the museum for the University of Utah, and we have programs like Art-in-a-Box, one of the most far-reaching educational programs I’ve ever heard of to bring art into the public schools. Where do you see our Third Saturdays fitting in? How does this program relate to our collections, and which audiences of ours does it serve?
Virginia: I don’t know if I would call the museum unwieldy. I think that our programs are some of the best community programs in Utah. We have worked very hard to create a place that the community and families can come and learn about art in a variety of ways. Families can experience art through creating, thinking, doing, discussing. These diverse ways of interacting with art allows people from all different backgrounds a way to learn that is invigorating and keeps them coming back. Like all our programs, Third Saturdays are grounded in getting inspiration and learning about our collections and exhibitions. Without the foundation of original art to lean on, the learning would not be as profound or rich. Because of in-museum family programs like Third Saturday and our backpack program, adults, families and children can come to the museum and get an inter-generational experience. This experience is on a continuum of experiences that we offer – from adult classes and lectures to school tours and presentations – allowing people to access the museum in a myriad of ways.