Still life with dinosaurs

A small boy with bowl-cut black hair and a blue shirt dotted with airplanes drew on the white tablecloth, using his clay's mud tracks for ink instead of making the demonstrated pot. He was among the 30 or 40 children, aged 2 through 10, whose parents or caretakers had brought them to the Smart Museum for Wednesday's final installment of the Art Afternoon series, a free summer arts-and-crafts program. The most dedicated attendees said they'd been to all four of the season's previous workshops. Smart Museum docents and the museum's outreach and education-technology coordinator Melissa Holbert supervised and assisted.

This week's activity was making pots and dishes—or, for the more imaginative, miniature chairs—out of clay. The artists could watch a demonstration on the Smart Kids Web site before they began. After viewing it, one mother warned her daughter that she was going to get dirty. “That’s OK,” responded the girl authoritatively from under her pink sun hat. “When it dries you can wash it off.”

Two cousins sat at the end of a table. “He’s making a dinosaur,” one said, pointing to the other, who was using a plastic knife to scratch figures into the bottom of his bowl. “No,” said the second boy, “I’m not making a dinosaur. I’m making a dino-SAUR!” He added a person to the scene. When asked if dinosaurs are extinct, he exclaimed, “There’s no such thing as that. I’ve seen a dinosaur, a real one. But it was in a cage. It was that really big one—what’s that one called?”

Tyrannosaurus rex?”

His eyes lit up. “Yeah, that one. A T-rex.”

Shira Tevah, '09

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Photos (left to right): A girl contemplates her lump of clay; participants watch the demo on a laptop; "It looks like chicken!" says the boy on the left; a mother helps her child.

August 1, 2008