This dude is half zombie, half king, half zebra, announces an 9-year-old, and he can fly, breathes fire, and has 32 legs. It’s not the kind of creature you hear about every day, but it’s exactly the level of imagination our artists-in-residence were hoping for. Sadie and Ephraim Hatfield recently invented their own beast, the Gigibòsgoshgoshmuxqüdòh, for Kidspace’s Curiosity exhibit. Their artwork for the show has two parts: a pop-up book telling a tall tale of this mysterious creature, and a cabinet housing different parts of its body.
While that’s being shown at Kidspace, four classes of North Adams second-graders are carrying out projects inspired by the Hatfields’ work. Because the Hatfields keep to themselves and seldom go out in public, they’ve recruited the help of local artists Matt Belanger and Marianne Petit, who are going into Sullivan and Greylock Elementary Schools, and discussing mythical beings, old and new, from tons of different cultures. Students then get to invent their own mythical creature, and draw what it would look like. The students are asked to think out every element of their imaginary creature: where they live, what they eat, if they are one-of-a-kind or if they have families. Matt and Marianne then help the kids turn their drawings into pop-ups, breathing a little bit of life into them.
As if that wasn’t cool enough, our artists-in-residence are then teaching students how to illuminate their drawings using colored LED lights. The students can power the lights by pinching copper wires to a tiny 3-volt battery. Some students had pretty bright ideas about how to use their lights — putting a yellow light in the sky to make a radiant sun above their mythical creature, Â or adding a few red lights to make their volcanic lava glow. All in all, this artist residency was a pretty enlightening experience!