TAC Summer Camp, 2018: Week 3!

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In Week 3 of TAC Summer Camp, the kids visited the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum to see their exhibit, Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color. This exhibit explores the ways that artists, scientists, designers, and philosophers saw and utilized color. Using this as inspiration, they learned about color theory and the way colors are mixed and created, such as: primary, secondary, monochromatic colors, etc.

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The exhibit featured over 190 objects that demonstrated different usages of colors, from testing plates of textile designers to notebooks of different philosophers explaining what each color represented. On the second floor of the museum, the space was divided into seven different sections, which represented a different theme: Capturing Color, Color Optics, Creating Colors, Navigating Color, Color and Form, Color Collaboration, and Consumer Choice. We saw things like the covers of different jazz albums designed by Josef Albers who carefully selected colors and shapes that represented the emotions of the sounds from the album. We also saw things like Massimo Vignelli’s 1974 New York Subway diagram used to code the complex subway system that we still use to this day!

In another room, on the same floor, we got in interact with the “immersion room”. This is an interactive space in which visitors can design their own wallpaper. They drew a motif on a table sized tablet with their fingers or this pen we were given, using whichever colors we liked. After created, the motif was projected onto the wall, demonstrating what it would look like as a repeating pattern motif wallpaper! The kids really had a blast with this room, and experimented with their new knowledge of how they could use colors with one another. The motif could be projected into small or large repeats.

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The weavers first worked on weaving different color relationships. They learned about primary colors and weaved combinations of red, blue, and yellow. Next was secondary colors, followed by complementary colors, analogous colors, and finally monochromatic colors. Each color relationship was divided into sections that were cut afterwards. This was the first two days’ objective, then the field trip. On the last two days, the students dip dyed their pieces to see the results of the different colors combined. Each person respectively dyed a large blanket on which they attached their weavings on the last day. They ended up with beautifully multi-colored, collaged blankets that were mosaically constructed.

The surface designers also learned about color relationships, but started out painting grids of different colors to see the variance in color combinations once dried. They learned which colors made what when painted on top of one another. Afterwards, they made a small copy of a design on a smaller piece of fabric to plan out what they were going to paint on their larger blanket. From there, they painted these patterns on large blankets using different colors they learned about from the previous days. The smaller pieces that they painted on were sewn and constructed into small, rectangular bags!

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Everyone really enjoyed the process of learning about color and utilizing color theory in their unique and intricate designs. Many kids said that they would want to visit the museum again — mostly to make more wallpapers! In the beginning, there was a lot of learning as a “process.” But in the end, the kids appreciated what they had learned. Despite this week’s exhibition being quite scientific as well as artistic, there was more than enough creativity to spare. As one of the designers in the exhibit,  Josef Albers, said, “Ah, the creative process is the same secret in science as it is in art. They are all the same absolutely.” This week was an exciting success and a colorful journey through textile design!

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