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Families to feast at PEM’s first art buffet in Salem

Posted by Amanda Stonely  September 8, 2011 10:00 AM

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Rachael Bailey

Visitors enter the PEM in Salem, MA.

SALEM, MA—Families attending the Peabody-Essex Museum (PEM) Art Buffet on Saturday, September 10 in Salem, MA, won’t have to worry about making a mess. In fact, they’ll encourage it.
 
For the first time, the museum has incorporated a free Art Buffet from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. to their Studio Saturday program included with museum admission, which is $15 for adults, free for Salem residents and children 16 and under, $13 for seniors, $11 for full time college students. Here drop-in participants will be given a roomful of materials to create nearly any type of art they desire without the worries of cleanup. The Studio Saturday program is an event or activity geared toward families one Saturday of every month.
 
“This month I wanted to keep it fresh,” said Lisa Incatasciato, 28, PEM’s Family Programs Coordinator. “I hope the theme will introduce visitors to new artistic processes and media that they may not have explored before this fun and family friendly environment.”
 
Mary Fallavollita, a psychotherapist at Catholic Charities Guidance and Counseling Center in Danvers, MA, says such active family outings—like the PEM’s Buffet—have great benefits.
 
“It creates an opportunity to share an interest or future hobby,” said Fallavollita. “It also provides a memory which may lend itself to a richer conversation about family values.”
 
Incatasciato expects about fifty people will come through the studio this Saturday to experiment with materials ranging from tempera paint, powdered pigments, watercolor paint, a variety of papers, glues, clay, tissue paper, fabric, yarn, chalk and oil pastels. The staff welcomes recurring visitors as well as newcomers.
 
“We’ll see a lot of grandparents too,” said Incatasciato.
 
Incatasciato, who oversees all Studio Saturday events at PEM, has helped implement a goal for each program to foster multi-generational exchange and creative collaboration in a museum setting. With such a wide range of material options for the artists both young and old, they are able to expand their artistic abilities and areas of interest.
 
“That is the beauty of it,” said Incatasciato. “With so many materials, it’s interesting to see what things people gravitate toward.”
 
Most Studio Saturday events welcome guest artists who specialize in the medium being used to guide the visitors. This time, Incatasciato will be on hand as a museum educator helping the visitors.
 
“I think this is a great activity for families. It brings up a lot of discussion and not only of the project itself,” said Incatasciato. “It’s not passive. They’re really engaged.”
 
Gavin Andrews, Assistant Director for Family, Student and Teacher Programs at PEM, wants to communicate a simple objective. “Our goal is to provide opportunities for families to create art together, and in many ways the experience is just as much about making art together as it is doing something meaningful, fun, and engaging,” said Andrews.
 
PEM has offered hundreds of art programs either separate or as part of Studio Saturday that cater to family interaction. Visitors can also see the Art & Nature Center, an interactive exhibition space designed especially for families. PEM also holds hands-on guided tours, weekend festivals, and Story Time programs. Past creations have included, watercolor postcards, paper lanterns, and basic sketching.
 
Andrews notices a direct reward for making art a family activity at PEM.
 
“Several families have told me that they have PEM artwork on display all around their home that they and their kids have created together,” said Andrews.  “The fact that these works of art continue to live on in people's homes is particularly gratifying for us because it means that they created something really special while at PEM.”

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