From crude drawings on the sides of dusty caves to the iconic murals of the Sistine Chapel, art has been our way of marking history. Before language and individual letters existed, drawings and symbols were the only means of communication. This October, the act of drawing and making marks is being celebrated in Los Angeles with The Big Draw arts festival, occurring at several museums throughout the month.
At the Fowler Museum at UCLA, the Big Draw was celebrated with a variety of activities designed to get everybody involved, no matter their level of artistic skill. At the entrance to the Museum, a long strip of butcher paper was unrolled to cover the normally brick-tiled entryway.
Strips of colored charcoal stained the paper, so as you walked across the entry path into the museum, charcoal footprints were left behind, making a mark. All of the galleries, ranging from the permanent collection entitled “Intersections” to the new photography collection of graffiti, were open to the public, showing visitors the many different forms of art.
In a sunny courtyard, a tile-making workshop was in full force, engaging both children and their curious parents as balls of clay were flattened out and decorated with everything from symbols of fortune and wisdom to, as one excited girl remarked, “pretty baby unicorns!” Created by tracing designs onto wax paper and pressing them onto the damp clay, the tiles proved to be an easy way to get creative, and were a popular activity.
Many visitors added art to Korean ceramics gallery, covering the floor with sprawling geometric designs made from colored painter’s tape. The tape designs were inspired by the sculptures on display, but turned into a creative outlet of another sort for many as hopscotch games and tape outlines of bodies began to cover the floor.
However, the most inventive activity of the day was found on a rooftop patio. There, squadrons of children and adults were busy decorating a roll of white cloth, doodling with charcoal, paint, pastels and mini cans of spray paint.
When the roll was full of color and art, it was slowly draped off the edge of the patio, so that the art hung down the side of the museum and clean space on the roll awaited more drawings. In less than two hours, the cloth draped down the entire side of the two-story museum, and was nowhere near finished.
Through the efforts of many, the entire museum bore remnants of visitors’ marks. Art can show talent and hang in world-renowned collections, but it can also be the scribbles and doodles that fill up the margins of your science notes or cover your hands.
There are still events open to visitors until the end of October. To learn more about The Big Draw and find activities near you, visit http://www.thebigdrawla.org/