CMA Stories

“The human experience is largely us bumbling around looking for connection” — 5 Minutes with Curry Whitmire of The Look Make Show

We debuted the first episode of our new television channel, The Look Make Show, which follows Rod and Coney as they make a TV show with all of their friends to learn about art, face life’s challenges, and make new art — together! We need your help to finish the first season — pledge to our Kickstarter campaign through May 14 and earn amazing rewards such as naming or voicing a character, being Executive Director for a day, or fun gear like hats, shirts, and stickers. Below, meet former CMA Teaching Artist Curry Whitmire, a voice actor for the series.

Can you tell us about your art practice and how working with children inspires you?

I’m an actor, improviser, audiobook narrator, illustrator and playdough sculptor! The last of those I can only credit to my many long days in the stART Studio. Working with children continuously inspired my art! Every one of my ambitions requires creativity and imagination, and what better example of that than the unbridled mind of a child. It was always a helpful reminder to think outside the box and not take myself so seriously

Do you have a favorite CMA memory?

I take you back to the playdough table. I was sitting with two kids around three years old. We were making pizzas, naturally, and the following discussion unfolded:

Child 1: I love pizza
Me: Wow! I love pizza too!
Child 2: I love pizza too!!
Child 1: Wow!!
Me: I also really love spaghetti.
Child 2: I love spaghetti too!
Child 1: Me too!
Child 2: THIS IS INSANE!! (Screaming, standing, and shaking his hands in a “why, god, why” fashion)

Maybe that’s a better story in person… but the excitement and happiness of the kids were definitely the best parts of the day.

Do you have a favorite memory of making art as a child?

I went through a wood-burning phase as a kid. I was always particularly proud of the pieces I made with that. My favorite being a portrait of my brother and I that I wood-burned onto a jewelry box as a gift for my mother. I used a thumb tack to stab a stencil of our faces through the photo I chose of us. Looking back this was a pretty dark technique, but, hey, whatever works!

Why is children’s television important within the context of art education?

My first exploration with crafts as a child was with a show called Out of the Box. I’d look forward to this show because they made things each episode and encouraged viewers to join from home. It instilled in me a love for making and honed problem solving skills that have served me well. Ultimately, it comes down to engagement, and children’s television offers a lot of opportunities to maintain that engagement and really leave an impression on children in a  concise way.

What advice would you give to young artists who wish to pursue an art practice?

It doesn’t always go the way we plan, but just like in art, the mistakes can lead to beautiful things you never thought possible. Just keep making and learning. Be open to new things, courageous in your choices,  and honest and kind to yourself and others.

Why is it important to make art accessible to all children and families?

Art is such an incredible form of expression. It’s healing, it’s inspiring, and it opens the door for connection. The human experience is largely us bumbling around looking for connection. Children are desperate for this, especially with their families. Children might not have the vocabulary to express everything they are feeling, adore, or fear, but art gives way to expressing those things and a jumping off point for discussion.

If you could choose any artist to create a portrait of yourself, who would it be and why?

William Wegman! I’d ask for a series, at least a calendar’s worth, of me and his Weimaraners. We’d wear all of the same outfits, wigs, and emotionless expressions. Do I really need to explain why? I feel like any rational person having now considered this as an option would have to choose the same!

 

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