Meet Artist in Residence Frank Traynor
“With so many kids, there’s a lot of seeing things as they really are and also a lot of space for imagining what things can become."
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CMA’s inaugural cohort of Artists in Residence are turning the museum into their individual art studios as they develop The Look Make Show, the first digital commons of child-centered on-demand arts education. Below, meet Frank Traynor, puppet artist and founder of No School, an artist-run arts education program focusing on adventurous, process-oriented group art making.
What attracted you to CMA’s new Artist in Residence program?
I have been working between art and art education for a while, and had been interested in the CMA for sometime, hoping for a way to get involved. I had just ended a big education project in Berkeley, CA and was just kind of floating around out in Hawaii when the residency was announced. It seemed like it could be a good reason to come back to NYC.
Can you tell us about your art practice and how working with children inspires you?
I like the way that handicrafts can really affect our daily lives in tiny and humongous ways — it helps us connect with each other and ourselves, as individuals and groups — and give us ways to experience a place or a season, share ideas outside of words, to invest in and honor upcoming events, or reflect and commemorate past events. I think a lot of kids are open to this kind of experiencing the world / their days. To make a generalization — with so many kids, there’s a lot of seeing things as they really are and also a lot of space for imagining what things can become.
Do you have a favorite memory of making art as a child?
My grandfather used to keep a workbench in his side yard. If he was working out there he would get me a bucket of water and a big paintbrush and I would make giant paintings on the side of his house. The water would make the pale green walls a few shades darker that wouldn’t last very long in the Miami heat. The beginning of some big image would evaporate before you got to the end. I was happy to keep going for a long time — a whole world just coming and going, trying to figure it out.
What advice would you give to young artists who wish to pursue an art practice? Why is it important to make art accessible to all children and families?
I don’t feel particularly interested in working towards creating a new generation of individual artists as they are understood in a professional sense. In my dream, I hope to encourage a perspective beyond an art practice, to foster empowered curiosity and creativity in young people — the feeling of real ability to change your life and the world around you by making things (especially outside of capitalist logic).
If you could choose any artist to create a portrait of yourself, who would it be and why?
Wight Rushton, from the Rushton Doll Company. Their hobo dolls are amazing. I want to feel the way they look.