Creativity Workshop: Exploring and Dwelling in the Museum through Walking Self-Portraits 


At the door to KAM, a woman with dark curly hair and glasses is wearing a paper cape (right) and is fastening a cape around the shoulders of a woman in a hat (at left). Closer to the camera, other figures in paper capes are visible on either side.
Participants prepare for the workshop "Exploring and Dwelling in the Museum through Walking Self Portraits" by helping each other fasten capes made of paper before entering the museum, February 27, 2020. Photo by Tiffany Teng.


Three figures are talking and fastening white paper capes around their shoulders. On the table in front of them is tape and a bin of colorful writing implements—crayons and markers. The paper they wear is unmarked.
Participants in paper capes prepare for the workshop "Exploring and Dwelling in the Museum through Walking Self Portraits" before entering the museum, February 27, 2020. Photo by Tiffany Teng.


Two women in capes sit on the gallery floor before a sculpture of a small child in an ornate, beaded dress and gas mask. The dress is rose colored and the beadwork uses seed beads sewn in botanical motifs. One girl
Workshop participants consider Naomi Bebo's "Woodland Child in Gas Mask" and add to each other's self portraits, February 27,2020. Photo by Tiffany Teng


A young woman with short hair, a flowered shirt, and red pants sits on the floor and draws on her paper cape (also on the floor). Behind her is a small, olive green pre-Civil War Face Jug from Edgefield, South Carolina on a pedestal.
A workshop participant adds to her walking self-portrait in the Bow Gallery, adjacent to the museum's nineteenth-century Face Jug, February 27, 2020. Photo by Tiffany Teng.


A museum visitor in a grey hoodie and hat semi-reclines on a museum bench to draw on their paper cape. Behind the visitor, who is African American, is a painting of Our Lady of the Remedies of La Paz.
A workshop participant in the Bow Gallery draws on their walking self-portrait cape, February 27, 2020. Photo by Tiffany Teng


A person with a paper cape covering their face and torso holds a red pencil and rests on the wooden gallery floor. The writing on the cape says GAZING LOSS in large letters and I Remember You with a drawing of an eye near I and a tree as the Y in You.
A workshop participant follows the walking self-portrait script, laying down in the gallery in front of a work of art, February 27, 2020. Photo by Tiffany Teng


Image of the back of two capes from the workshop The left one features the words "MASK' and 'WE CREATE, WE DESTROY', along with a story in cursive. The right cape has a drawing and cursive writing 'Grave Yard' and 'birds' among other words.
Finished walking self-portraits from the creativity workshop, February 27, 2020. Photo by Tiffany Teng
Student Engagement

On Thursday evening, a rather unusual gathering of people wrapped in paper capes convened outside of the Krannert Art Museum.

The group of twenty-five participants ranged from senior faculty members to a 10 year-old girl.

At the start of the workshop, the group assembled into a single-file line, entered the museum, and began a slow paced, silent walk around the galleries. The rustling of paper capes and processional performance walk created a unique atmosphere within the museum space. Passersby and museum guards stared curious, amused, and maybe slightly unsettled at this unconventional scene.

Through performative introductory and concluding walks, we collectively explored relationships between the museum and self. The paper ‘capes,’ inspired by the artist Hélio Oiticica and his works Parangolés (ca.1965-1970) and Dada artist Hugo Ball’s lobster costume (1916), were designed to encourage participants to be aware of their body as they moved about the space. Between the walks, participants worked from a set of scores to explore three aspects of the self - memory, intervention, and collectivity - in dialogue with art and the museum.

After the exploration, some participants responded with comments about how the scores such as lying down in front of an artwork and the cape’s tendency to restrict movement changed the way they thought about their bodies in museums. Another commented that the weather-like sounds generated by our capes changed the museum environment. Our youngest participant, in a rave review stated, “It was actually worth my time.” 

Thank you to all participants and to the Krannert Art Museum for accepting our invitation to engage with art spaces through looking -- not only at art, but also ourselves.


Authors and Event Organizers: Catalina Hernández Cabal, Ahu Yolaç, and Jody Stokes-Casey, art education PhD students

February 27, 2020