While the museum is closed to the public, CMA’s inaugural cohort of Artist-Educators 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.
CMA: What attracted you to CMA’s new Artist-Educator in Residence program?
FT: 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.
CMA: Can you tell us about your art practice and how working with children inspires you?
FT: 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.
CMA: Do you have a favorite memory of making art as a child?
FT: 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.
CMA: 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?
FT: 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).
CMA: If you could choose any artist to create a portrait of yourself, who would it be and why?
FT: Wight Rushton, from the Rushton Doll Company. Their hobo dolls are amazing. I want to feel the way they look.
“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."