CMA Stories

“Art-making is always also a project of space-making” — DIY Wheatpaste Squid Sculptures with Reed Hexamer

It’s a squid vid! Spend 10 minutes with CMA Teaching Artist Reed Hexamer and learn how you can make your own wheatpaste squid sculpture at home. Keep scrolling to meet Reed and learn about their art practice. Show us your DIY squid using the hashtag #cmanychallenge.

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

I’m a multimedia artist who works primarily in paint, sculpture, performance, and critical theory. My work explores care as a fluid energy that transforms all it touches. Both my writing and my physical art practice use metaphor as a tool to tease out social, political, economic and spatial anxieties, envisioning the disenfranchised as the magicians and healers that teach the world about itself.

I also create comics about different social justice topics that aim to increase political literacy and provide frameworks for mutual aid projects. I love how brave and uninhibited children’s exploration can be. It is this authentic vulnerability that makes it so rewarding to watch children develop as artists and people simultaneously.

How does art have the power to connect and support community bonds? Why is it important to make art accessible to all children and families?

Art-making is always also a project of space making. When we give our communities the resources to create, we provide space where we can draw out ideas we have about ourselves, each other, and the world. This kind of making gives us a sense of safety while also offering a place to work with ideas, realities, and dreams that, in any other environment, may feel unsafe, overwhelming, or impossible. Art preserves the oral, written, and lived histories of our communities and gifts us the languages we need to draft new futures. We should all have a right to our pasts and to our dreams, so we should all have a right to art.

What advice do you have for parents who want to address serious global issues with their children? Is there a way to use art to facilitate these conversations? 

In my experience, children are incredibly perceptive and often experience the outcomes and consequences of global issues long before adults bring them into these conversations. In this case, talking with the children in your life about the world can serve to name the anxieties they have already been wrestling with, or provide frameworks for meeting these feelings of unrest with resilience and empathy for others and themselves. When we invite children to these conversations on their own terms, we invite them to place themselves in a larger community. Art allows children to drive the conversation and can provide visual and kinetic learners with ways to share that may be easier for them. When we make art together, we not only explore what global issues mean for us in the present, but we can work with both our intimidating anxieties and powerful dreams of the future.

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

When I was very young I would gather many different kinds of twigs, stones, flowers, branches, and leaves from the woods then line them up into long patterns around the sides of the road. One of my favorite parts of art has always been the joy and calm I have felt while making it and these lines were a record of many special forest walks.

Can you share a work or artist that inspires you to make art?

Lately, I have been really loving Doris Salcedo’s work. Salcedo is a Columbian artist who creates these amazing emotional sculptures that often address the political landscape of Columbia. She is incredible at producing a mood and drawing people into the community, even in painful moments. Her work has always reminded me to pay close attention to the voices of all people, not just those who could get to the table.

While our doors are closed, CMA is here for you and your family with at-home art projects to keep children entertained and engaged. However, every day we’re closed puts the future of CMA in further jeopardy.

Will you be there for us? Every dollar you donate directly supports the Museum and ensures that CMA will remain a pillar of educational and artistic leadership in New York City. Click here to donate.

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