WanderWord is thrilled to have been a part of MASS MoCA’s Free Day 2016. Our three interconnected programs took flight throughout the museum, touching most if not all of the day’s record-setting 3000 visitors. Our goal was to stage a variety of accessible activities where folks could experience a genuine engagement with language – all while creating a personalized snapshot of the art on display on that day. What we ended up with was a tremendous collaborative exchange of emotion, thought, whimsy, and inventive spirit.
An empty Building 5 blossomed with 4000 square feet of densely painted stencils, odes, and free form paintings. Iconography and poetic content were drawn from the art on display - visitors expanded and personalized these into their own unique, collective vision. We plowed through gallons of paint, wore down chalk and crayons, incorporated sponge brushes, paint brushes, stencils and splatter techniques to create a beautiful and strangely cohesive work of crowd-sourced art. Our team spent the day in awe of the quantity and enthusiasm of the participants. Their contributions took shape in the form of deeply personal reflections as they used our tools to process their thoughts on the art they had experienced.
2000 MASS MoCA-inspired words printed on 150 square feet of magnetic material somehow made their way to almost every room of the wildly magnetic museum. Poems emerged and morphed constantly throughout the day as guest after guest re-arranged and revised the work of those before them. At times they riffed off our existing ‘ceiling poems,’ each dedicated to an on-display artist, but more often the work was purely their own voices – and original, unexpected ones at that.
500 colorful poetry playing cards turned museumgoer into explorer as we sent them to gather impressions from 4 specific galleries. After penning their thoughts down on paper, they were off to Building 5 where our ace team of Poetry Guides helped them to refine their ideas into an ode. From there, our scribes transcribed the odes onto the floor mural, where they were quickly incorporated into the sea of color and thought.
Throughout the day, our entire team had a dizzying amount of amazing exchanges with participants as we guided and worked beside them. Families bonded over messy paint deliriums, children devoted touching odes to siblings, packs of wild teens hunted and spread magnetic words, lone creators settled on the floor for hours of quiet contemplation. Time after time, we were the ones left speechless by the creative power inspired by these surroundings.
WanderWord is truly grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of Free Day and to honor MASS MoCA’s walls, floors and ceilings with poetry.