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SAM Creates: Inventions for Empathy

Look & Make Activities are designed as grade-specific lesson plans for remote learning. Find more information and artworks to inspire creative learning through these activities available for download on our website in English, Spanish, and Chinese.

This artwork is an installation created by the contemporary artist Saya Woolfalk. If you were to visit this work at the Seattle Art Museum, you could walk into this space and move, meditate, or just observe. Rhythmic music plays and a video of rotating leaves, eyes, hands, and patterns projects onto the wall and floor. The colors are mostly blues, greens, and purples. This  artwork is surrounded by a blend of cultures, symbols, ideas, experiences, and life forms and shows us what a better future for all living creatures might look and feel like. Hear from the artist in the video below as she discusses this installation when it was first exhibited as part of Disguise: Masks & Global African Art.

Woolfalk created this work to help fix a real world-wide issue: lack of empathy. Empathy is understanding how someone else is feeling because you have been in a similar situation or felt that way before. If you have ever felt sad because your friend was sad or excited because your friend was excited about something, you have felt empathy! You can show empathy for someone by thinking about their perspective. In this space, the three figures are called Empathics. The Empathics are imaginary alien beings that were transformed by fusing their cells with cells of animals and plants. The Empathics believe that the world would be a better place if more people were able to develop empathy for each other. It is their job to help guide this process.

LOOKING QUESTIONS

  • What’s going on in this artwork? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can you find?
  • If you were to put yourself in this work of art, where would you go? How would you want to move around? 
  • What do you think it would feel like to be there? What do you see that makes you feel that way?

ART ACTIVITY

Design and create a prototype for an invention that will help the Empathics spread empathy in the world. A prototype is a simple model that helps you test out your idea.

What You’ll Need

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Optional: markers, aluminum foil, wire, string, other available materials
  • If you prefer to draw in a computer program, you can design your invention on the PBS Kids Design Squad website.
  • Check out this video for tips on different ways to use cardboard.
  1. You have been chosen by the Empathics to create an invention that will help people have more empathy for others. They want this invention to be something that people can carry with them—either in their hand or on their body. Write down your task on a piece of paper!
  1. Imagine: Write about and/or draw at least 3 possible inventions. Circle your favorite one.
  1. Plan: Create a detailed drawing of your favorite invention. Give it a title, label each part of your invention, and write notes about how it will help spread empathy.
  1. Create: Use cardboard, scissors, and tape to create a prototype of your invention. Create this prototype to-scale, or the same size that you want your invention to be.
  1. (Optional) Add decorations or designs to your prototype. You can even add sound if you want! Think about all of the visual and sound elements that Saya Woolfak uses in her artwork to spread the message of empathy.
  1. When you’re done, share your prototype with a friend, family member, or teacher. Describe your task and tell them how your invention works. What do they particularly like about your invention? Do they have any ideas on how to make it even better?
  1. You can refine your idea and create new versions of your invention to share with people you know. What do they think about when they use your invention? Does it change how they think about other people?

KEEP LEARNING WITH A STORY

Read a classic book about empathy in a new form by borrowing the e-book graphic novel adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle (original story) and Hope Larson (graphic novel adaptation) from King County or Seattle Public Library. Or listen to the audio book version of Shuri: A Black Panther Novel #1, by Nic Stone and be inspired by Shuro as she uses her science and technology skills to create a better future for her homeland of Wakanda.

CHIMATEK: VIRTUAL CHIMERIC SPACE (Installation View), 2015–16, Saya Woolfalk, American, born 1979. Multi-media installation, 15 x 25 x 5 ft. Projection: 3:59 minutes, Purchased with funds from Josef Vascovitz and Lisa Goodman, Alida and Christopher Latham, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Art Acquisition Fund, 2017.16 Provenance: The artist; [Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects]; acquired March 15, 2017. Photo: Nathaniel Willson.

Muse/News: Online learning, quarantine portraits, and Wendy Red Star’s school

SAM News

Seattle’s Child has a round-up of online learning activities from area museums, zoos, and more—including a mention of Stay Home with SAM art-making activities.

Local News

Chris Talbott for the Seattle Times reports on KEXP’s recent shifts in leadership and programming, as the beloved radio station works to become an anti-racist organization.

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel joins Seattle dancers as they pivot to performances outdoors in local parks.

Stefan Milne explores why Steven Miller’s quarantine portraits of friends have struck such a deep chord.

“American culture often talks of queerness in terms of visibility, ‘in the closet’ or ‘out.’ In these photos, Miller looks in on a more literal enclosure. He told me his way of dealing with this imposed invisibility is having people ‘come as they want to be seen.’”

Inter/National News

Rebecca Ann Proctor reports for the Art Newspaper on the devastation in Beirut after an explosion in the port left more than 70 people dead and over 4,000 injured. Many museums and galleries were severely impacted in the blast.

Artnet’s Kate Brown reports on the turmoil within the Paris-based International Council of Museums (ICOM), as an effort that began last year to redefine “museum” has now resulted in a series of resignations.

Hyperallergic’s Karen Chernick speaks with Wendy Red Star—winner of SAM’s 2016 Betty Bowen Award—about her new solo exhibition at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA)’s Kidspace, which acts as a corrective to the lack and misrepresentation of Native history in public school curriculums.

“For me, it’s very important that the ancestors that are presented in the exhibition are really thought of as people. And relatable people…And really humanizing them, because Native people have been dehumanized so much or made into this mythical part of the West that doesn’t exist. My hope is that there’s a human connection that the kids can make and relate to.”

And Finally

Setsuko Thurlow bears witness.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Muse/News: SAM style leaders, virtual First Thursday, and llama heroes

SAM News

“The passion in David Rue’s voice is palpable.” Andrew Hoge of Seattle Magazine talks with SAM Public Engagement Associate David Rue for their May edition of Style Profile about his eclectic approach to personal style and arts programming.

This week, Stay Home with SAM gets you ready for SAM Book Club’s exploration of Octavia Butler, flips through a powerful youth zine responding to the pandemic, and ducks for cloud cover with Teresita Fernández.

The Seattle Times collects “5 fun ways to stretch your kid’s brain” with “Weekly Wonder” recommendations by Kris Gilroy Higginson, including SAM’s “tree-mendously cool” Middle Fork-inspired art project.

Vox Magazine’s Hannah McFadden of Vox Magazine, Columbia Missourian’s award-winning student magazine, has a very enthusiastic recommendation of SAM Blog in her round-up on online arts experiences.

“This blog is colorful and incredibly detailed in the descriptions of its exhibits and related art history. Plus, the blog’s tags make it easy to navigate.”

Local News

Did you virtually art walk with everyone this First Thursday? You can still watch all the virtual tours and talks presented by Lauren Gallow and Gabriel Stromberg with By The Hour, including talks from Pam McClusky and Foong Ping.

Unstreamable is back! In this recurring column, Chase Burns and Jasmyne Keimig watch and review films that are unavailable to stream; they’ve got helpful information on how to sign up for Scarecrow’s safe rental-by-mail program.

Brangien Davis of Crosscut with her essential weekly “editor’s notebook”; she talks about the effect of the shutdown extension on the arts in Seattle, highlighting creative efforts thriving in spite of the hardships.

“There’s a lesson in here somewhere, for these COVID days, about learning to trust in a new way of thinking, about seeing things differently when the world is turned upside down.”

Inter/National News

Nominated three previous times, Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for criticism, one of very few visual arts critics to win the prize.

“A small show that’s built around a sensational painting, and that has an unreadable relationship at its heart.” The New York Times’ Holland Cotter recommends a virtual visit to Boston’s Apollo: Thomas McKeller and John Singer Sargent at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

“A Wedding Photographer Took an Online Archaeology Class During Lockdown—and May Have Discovered a Lost Stonehenge-Like Structure.” Artnet’s Sarah Cascone with an incredible story of novice archaeology.

As he scanned along the River Trent, near the village of Swarkestone, he noticed something strange. “I thought, ‘what’s that? It looks a bit odd, and a bit round,’” Sedden told the Guardian.

And Finally

Not all heroes wear capes. Some are llamas with “envy-inducing eyelashes.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of John Akomfrah: Future History at Seattle Art Museum, 2020, photo: Natali Wiseman.

Make Dreams Come True with Jung Yeondoo

Since 2001, South Korean artist Jung Yeondoo has visited six different countries to make people’s dreams come true. In his Bewitched series, he asks local people about their wishes for their future and then makes them come true with a pair of photographs: the first, a portrait of the person in their everyday life and the second, showing their dream or fantasy. Bewitched #2 Seoul shows a Baskin Robbins employee at her job next to her dream of going to the Arctic. Her change in clothing, accessories, and setting changes how we see her and shows us a part of her that we might not know about upon first glance. Jung uses costumes, settings, and props to transform a scene from everyday life into the individual’s dream.

Speaking about his inspiration, Jung said in a 2015 profile, “I started this project with an artist’s curiosity about wanting to know about the lives of people you just pass every day,” he said. “It’s not about a happy perspective or a negative perspective . . . It is more about [my] attempts as an artist to communicate with someone else.”

Jung Yeondoo Helps 28 People Realize Their Dreams by Taking Pictures

Looking questions

  • What’s going on in these artworks? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can we find?
  • What words would you use to describe the person in each photograph, based on what they are wearing? Are there any words that would describe both of them?
  • Look closely at the image on the left. What do you think are some things this person does every day? What do you see that makes you say that? Now do the same for the image on the right.
  • Why do you think you see the same pose in both images? What does it feel like to pose in that way?
Hear from actor Hudson Yang as he looks closely at Bewitched #2

Visualize

Take a moment to close your eyes and ask yourself these same questions: What is your dream? What is your fantasy? Who do you want to be? Think about this dream that you have for yourself. In this imagined future, what are you wearing? What are you doing? What are your surroundings? Time yourself for five minutes and free-write or draw any ideas that you have. Don’t worry about making it look or sound good, this is just to document your ideas.

Art Activity

Create a drawing or collage that represents the daily life and imagined dream of someone you know.

  • Call a friend and ask each other questions to learn more about your everyday lives, just like Jung Yeondoo interviews the people that he works with. Be sure to write down words that describe what they are saying! Here are some example questions:
  • Where are you right now? What does it look like there? What do you see around you?
  • What part of your daily routine happens in this space? Describe that routine.
  • Who else spends time here? Is anyone there now? What are they doing?
  • Is there anything else that you want to share?

Now, interview each other about your future dreams. This could be three months from now or far into the future. What is your dream? What is your fantasy? Who do you want to be? Keep digging—ask for more details that can help you imagine their dream. Write down more descriptive words as you listen.

For this next part, you can choose to either

Make a drawing!

  • Divide a blank sheet of paper in half. On the left side, create a drawing of your friend in their current daily life. On the right side, create a drawing of them in their imagined dream.
  • Tell a story with your drawing—the more details that you can include from the interview, the better!

Make a collage!

  • Choose a blank sheet of paper or piece of cardboard for your base. You’ll need: old magazines, newspapers, or other printed papers, a pair of scissors, and glue.
  • Cut out words and images from the magazines that remind you of what you learned about your friend in these interviews. Divide your cutouts into two piles: your friend’s everyday life and their wish for the future.
  • Draw a line dividing your base in half. On the left side, create a collage using the cutouts related to your friend’s everyday life. On the right side, create a collage using the cutouts related to your friend’s wish for the future.

When you are done, send each other photos of your artwork or exchange them the next time you see each other. What are some things that you learned about yourself and each other in this process?

– Yaoyao Liu, SAM Museum Educator & Lauren Kent, SAM’s Museum Educator for School Programs & Partnerships

Image: Bewitched #2 Seoul, 2001. Jung Yeondoo. C-print photograph. 62 5/8 × 51 9/16 in. (159.1 × 131 cm) Purchased with funds from the Estate of Rosa Ayer, 2016.8.1–2.

SAM Connects Asian Art to Seattle for Free!

The Seattle Asian Art Museum reopens February 8 and we want to be sure you know all the free and discounted ways that you can visit the reimagined and reinstalled museum!

Even though the Housewarming: Free Reopening Weekend is sold out and we are not accepting walkups on February 8 or 9, there are many other opportunities to visit for free. Today’s Seattle Asian Art Museum breaks boundaries to offer a thematic, rather than geographic or chronological, exploration of art from the world’s largest continent. The restoration of the historic Art Deco building, improvements to critical systems, expanded gallery and education spaces, and a new park lobby that connects the museum to the surrounding Volunteer Park are just some of the ways the Asian Art Museum has been transformed and preserved as a cultural and community resource for future generations.

An important part of the work that took place while the Asian Art museum was closed for renovation and expansion isn’t something you will notice about the architecture or art. The City of Seattle financially supported the preservation and improvements of SAM’s city-owned Art Deco home and in return, we made a commitment to offer more free ways for members of the community to visit the Asian Art Museum!

  • All exhibitions are suggested admission at the Asian Art Museum when purchasing tickets onsite. You can pay what you want.  See Boundless: Stories of Asian Art and Be/longing: Contemporary Asian Art on view when the museum reopens!
  • Many programs such as lectures, performances, and tours at the museum are free and include free entry to the galleries. Check out our Free First Saturdays series for kids!
  • SAM provides discounted rates for students, teens, seniors, and military with ID.
    • Seniors (65+) and military can visit for $12.99
    • Students and teens age 15–18 can get tickets for $9.99
  • Children (14 & under) are always free.
  • SAM members are free. Join today and RSVP to see the museum before it opens to the public during the Members Open House on February 5 and 6.
  • First Saturdays and the Second Thursdays of every month are free to all.
  • The First Friday of every month the Asian Art Museum is free for seniors.
  • Bring a group of 10 or more and get discounted tickets. Find out more about group visits!
  • Educators can visit for free anytime with ID. Mark your calendars for a special Educator Open House at the Asian Art Museum on February 27!
  • Did you know that we now offer free school tours for all public schools at all SAM locations? We also offer bus subsidies for title 1 schools. School tours at the Asian Art Museum start march 1—find out more!
Photo: Jueqian Fang

SAM Connects Students to Art for Free

A new school year often welcomes crisp air, spiral notebooks, and pumpkin deliciousness. This school year brings one other exciting change: Seattle Art Museum school tours will now be free for all public schools at all SAM locations! Bus subsidies are also available for Title 1 schools. Offering free tours for public schools grew out of SAM’s mission and strategic plan to champion access and equity for all. The museum firmly believes every student deserves access to high-quality arts education and creative learning. 

Even though the arts remain a required school subject by Washington State law, arts education is often one of the first programs to be cut. According to ArtsEd Washington, “In Washington State, 75% of elementary students receive only two hours, or less, of arts education each week.” Not only that, but Create Advantage Seattle notes, “Race, family income, and home language are all predictors of a students’ access to arts education in Seattle Public Schools.” 

Research reveals that consistent arts education improves high school graduation rates, empathy, motivation to stay in school, critical thinking, voter turnout, and even raises math scores. Arts Impact says, “Arts-infused learning in reading and math eliminates the achievement gap between children of color and poverty and their white upper/middle-class peers.” Also, SAM’s Kayla Skinner Deputy Director for Education and Public Engagement, Regan Pro, strongly believes in furthering arts education. “Everyone talks about how they value things like creativity and innovation. If we are saying that but aren’t supporting arts in schools, then how do we expect those muscles to grow?”

Typically, school tours at SAM start with a warm welcome from a trained docent or tour guide and a teaching artist. The docent or tour guide leads the group into SAM’s galleries where students and teachers might stare into the eyes of a giant mouse sculpture, learn the history behind Kwakwaka’wakw house posts, or discover a treasure chest lock in the Porcelain Room. With three locations and art from all over the world, tours can complement and enhance any curriculum.

After the tour, SAM’s teaching artists facilitate an art-making experience based on the works that students just saw in the galleries. Students walk away holding their own work of art, such as a three-dimensional sculpture, a two-point perspective painting, or a self-designed family crest. Plus, teaching artists provide students with an opportunity to view potential career paths in the arts.

“Being in the art museum was a new experience for many of my students. They were intrigued and, to my surprise, were able to connect with some artists. I feared they would find the museum too “high-brow,” but the variety of art allowed most to connect in some way.”

– Educator

In addition to free school tours, SAM has continued to develop school partnerships. One of those partnerships, called “Drawing from Nature,” is now in its fourth year. Through this partnership, SAM offers all second graders in Highline School District a chance to explore the Olympic Sculpture Park. Building off these field trips, SAM provides lesson plans and professional development sessions to teachers. Furthermore, SAM is partnering with Seattle Public Schools on a new program at the Seattle Asian Art Museum when it reopens in early 2020. This partnership supports third through fifth-grade teachers as they build connections between art and social studies.

“This was an amazing experience and many of the themes were continued to talk about and apply in other subject areas.”

– Educator

SAM’s Senior Manager of School & Educator Programs, Anna Allegro, says school partnerships provide students with a sense of ownership of SAM. “We’ll work with a school for five years, the kids will come every year, and they just have this sense of ownership and comfort. It’s so different from when they first walked in where SAM might have felt like an intimidating kind of space. Our goal is that students know they can be seen and heard here.”

With SAM’s partnerships and free school tours, the museum is honored to support arts education and creative learning for all young people whilst continuing the goal to promote equity and access for all. As much as art museums play a role in advancing arts education, this mission extends beyond our four walls to everyone in the community.

“Everyone can be an advocate for arts education. If you’re a parent, talk to your principal. Talk to your PSA. Ask them how they are supporting the arts. How is that a part of their classroom? If you’re a grandparent or if you live in a neighborhood, understand what the public school is in your neighborhood and how you can help support it.”

– Regan Pro

Learn more and book a free school tour at SAM before they fill up!

– Lauren Farris, SAM’s 2019 Emerging Arts Leader Intern

Photos: Robert Wade

A Glimpse of Seattle Art Museum’s School Tours- Art Workshops

After exploring works by many women artists in the Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris and Elles: SAM exhibitions, how can students be encouraged to make personal reflections? How can they explore the ideas and challenges provoked by these works of art? Can this reflection be a creative personal exploration of their own experience?

In SAM’s school tour art workshops, professional Teaching Artists engage school groups of all ages with these questions. Teaching Artists are employed by SAM to enrich our education programs with hands-on arts projects that provide an additional way of learning and understanding the art students see on their tours. These projects encourage students to take on art and creativity to express their own experiences. Each teaching artist holds a different background in art and in teaching. They are all professionally trained artists and teachers and come to SAM to join both art and education in one place. Here in our art studios students can explore their own artistic creativity with the guidance of working artists.

The art workshop developed for the Elles: Pompidou exhibition focuses on issues of identity, gender and stereotypes.  Gender Stereotyping, or standardized portrayals of males and females, is something everyone witnesses in everyday life. In the streets, in a classroom, in our communities and homes there are images attached to certain gender roles. In the Elles art workshop students are asked to think about commonplace assumptions of the roles and images that can be attributed to women and men. Sometimes these standardized attributes can be hard to see and should be observed more closely to get to the root of how stereotyping has shaped our ideas of gender.

What better way to explore associated relationships amongst an assortment of stereotypes than in a collage? Students look through popular and vintage magazines to find images that speak to them about familiar gender stereotypes. They collage these images, advertisements and words onto a poster. The poster presents bold statements through eye-catching images, questioning media messages. Some collages contain vibrant colors and blunt phrases with pictures from women’s magazines. These collages explore challenges about what women are expected to be: a lady, a housewife, a mother, a cook, or a lover.

Images are taken out of their intended context to make us re-examine where we feel they belong and why. The collage collects art and experience into one gathering place and so doing, beckons us as viewers to question how we look and what symbols we associate to certain gender roles.

All SAM’s School Tours can be joined with an Art Workshop, each of which integrates a project related to the themes of the tour. All our Teaching Artists have been working at SAM for several years and are extremely experienced in presenting art in an encouraging, accessible way for students of all ages. Come by our Chase Open Studio on the Grand Staircase where many of the student art projects are showcased and where visitors are welcome to make their own art during their tour of the museum.

For more information on SAM’s School Tours & Art Workshops, email schooltours@seattleartmuseum.org

A Glimpse of SAM’s School Tours

My name is Paige Smith. I work in the School & Educator Programs Department at the Seattle Art Museum. I have interned and worked at SAM for a little over a year now, and in all of my different positions I’ve learned so much about the museum’s role as an educational institution.  My current position as the School Tour Greeter has given me the most exposure to how important educators are to the museum and the critical role they play in bringing art and people together. I have a great admiration for educators and a strong personal and professional goal to become an educator, thus the opportunity to work with school tour groups and with SAM’s wonderful Docents seemed not only a great experience for me, but also sounded fun! The School Tour Greeter serves as mainly a liaison between school groups who come for a tour and the Docents who lead the tours. In this position I communicate with Docents about any extra information they may need to know about their school tour group. I also make sure the Teaching Artists are in the art studios and prepared for the school groups that join their tour with an art workshop.

Docents play an essential role as educators in the museum. Observing their strengths in educating all types of groups has been very inspiring. Docents are volunteers who apply to become a touring guide for school, public, and private tours. They endure a lot of training and lead many types of themed tours for all the permanent collection and special exhibition galleries at all three SAM sites ( SAM downtown, The Seattle Asian Art Museum, and Olympic Sculpture Park). I get to witness an incredible exchange between students, docents, and teachers as they prepare for their venture into the art galleries.

As the students and teachers enter the museum they move all in one organic mass. Sometimes entering as one herd, shuffling close together, or sometimes entering more fluidly, spreading out as their minds ponder the new open space they’ve filtered into: the museum. Docents greet them eagerly and the relationship between guide and school group begins. Students of different ages present different kinds of energy and the Docents can interpret and immediately bounce off this energy with much enthusiasm, friendliness, encouragement and leadership. I’ve seen Docents lead all ages of students from little kindergarten tots to angsty high schoolers and they handle them all differently. I had a conversation with docents Karin Roth and Ann Hardy about guiding a group of kindergarten students after their tour. Karin was very excited about how engaged her group was. She said it was very different from her experiences guiding high school students because of how eager these young toddlers were to engage themselves in what they were seeing, whereas teenagers are often more reserved or can be preoccupied with other teen worries or social dynamics. They both enjoy any group type but Karin was exhilarated by how differently they interact with her and how she was able to gear her tour towards their responses.

Docents cater their language, questions, and explanations to the age and the types of group dynamics they observe from the start. The distance the group has come, the type of school they attend, and teacher they come with all influence the dynamic of the group. It is exciting to watch how docents can read the dynamic and then accentuate different aspects of the museum and exhibits to encourage the group’s particular interest and intellect as much as they can.

Docents come from a diverse background of different professions and experience with teaching, but I cannot emphasize enough how devoted each Docent is to bringing art and art history into a personal level of connection for each student. As educators of the museum SAM Docents bring a whole world of knowledge and adventure to the experiences of each individual school group, and every tour is a different adventure!

Winning, SAM style

The Seattle Art Museum won first prize in the 2011 American Association of Museums Publications Design Competition for our “Kurt” exhibition poster designed by SAM graphic designer Rebecca Nickels.

While a certain actor’s career took a nosedive, SAM won a number of awards recognizing the outstanding work of our Communications team.

American Association of Museums Publications Design Competition
May 2011

  • Posters category: KURT poster
    First Prize
  • Educational Resources category: SAM Kids Events Campaign
    Honorable mention
  • Invitations category: PICASSO Suite of Invitations
    Honorable mention Read More