Paints swirl together with fist-held brushes and a story made up of colorful drawings appears on the gallery wall. Are your little ones budding artists itching to create? Do they brim with inventive stories and epic ideas? Bring them to the Portland Children’s Museum this fall to collaborate with a professional artist on a unique gallery! Read on to find out more.

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Photo: Jess Graff via Portland Children’s Museum

Kids and Artist Create Together

The room is covered in bright blobs of paintings, some recognizable, some not. Art supplies of all kinds are loaded in: watercolors, crayons, chalks, colored pencils, and plenty of paper to create on. Some kids stand at tables concentrating on their pictures, others watch curiously, and others draw onto paper tacked right up on the walls. Joy Cha, the visiting artist, watches, smiles, and gently asks kids what they’re making. Some are too shy to answer, but others start talking about what shapes are coming out. Fairies! Trees! A dinosaur! Cha shows them her own drawing, and together they decide what stories they can tell with those.

The Museum’s Artist in Residency program invites artists in for “studio hours” to create alongside children. It’s a true collaboration for the kids and the artist.  Young artists can pull out their chosen tools (brushes, sponges, their own fingers) and decide what they want to create and draw. Even better, they can make a big colorful mess! Even if your little Picasso is an accomplished artist on her home easel, coming to the museum studio is a great way to explore new tools and materials and see others making art–kids and adults alike! The opportunity helps kids learn how to create from their own imagination as well as how to make a painting or a story from others’ contributions. Your child’s whale might live in the ocean, but another’s is flying through the air. Will they ever meet?

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Photo: Untitled, by Joy Cha via The Children’s Museum

The Artist
This fall’s Artist in Residence is Joy Cha, a graphic designer, illustrator, painter and jewelry maker. Originally from South Korea and now a Portland local, Cha’s work focuses on whimsical storytelling themes. She believes that’s perfectly suited for kids epic, outrageous imaginations. Though she hasn’t worked much with children in the past, she’s noticed that much of her work attracts kids and parents of young families. She’s eager to explore during her time at the museum how her work is influenced by the world of children

Now in the program’s third year, each artist has brought their own unique stories and experiences, but they all walk away impressed by what the children make. Cha started her residency on the first on the month, and is already wowed and eager for more: “I’m thrilled and surprised by what the kids have contributed. I think the kids will end up teaching me without even realizing that they are doing that.”

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Photo: Jess Graff via The Portland Children’s Museum

Come Visit
To bring your own flourishing painter or storyteller, check out Cha’s hours on the museum’s calendar. She’ll be visiting regularly through November. Any visiting child is welcome to contribute, talk to Cha, or simply watch. Kids who come regularly get the chance to see the work evolve through all stages up to the end.

The Final Display
The final display of the artwork, which weaves in the children’s contributions and collaborations, is a free event.

Location: the Museum’s gallery
Date: Dec. 1, 2016
Time: 4:30-7:30 p.m.
Ages: All ages are welcome, so your friends, neighbors and families can see what the kids have created!

About Portland Children’s Museum
Portland Children’s Museum doesn’t act like a museum because their audience—children and the adults who care for them—is more important to them than anything they collect. Instead of investing in precious objects, they create priceless opportunities for visitors to learn through play

Location: 4015 SW Canyon Rd
Hours: 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily
Phone: 503-223-6500
Online: portlandcm.org

Insider tip: Don’t miss the Free First Friday on first Friday of every month from 4–8 p.m.

Have you attended any of the activities at the Portland Museum? Share your favorite in the comments below.

—Katrina Emery