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Family Art Studio: Terri Conley

Terri Conley, Ann Arbor resident and University of Michigan professor in Psychology and Women's Studies, talks about her family's experience with UMMA's Family Art Studio events.

Terri Conley and familyWhat was your first experience at UMMA's Family Art Studio?

I can't remember! It was a couple of years ago – we were inspired by an artist who makes mobiles. We didn't know about the Family Art Studios but happened to be in the Museum. Since they had extra space, we got in!   

What about that first experience made you want to come back for more events?

The program is well-run and organized. The integration of the gallery experience (going into the Museum to look at art) with the studio experience means that kids are making connections between art that they see and creations with their own hands. Probably my favorite part, though, is that adults and children are both creating art; it's a fun shared activity, rather than all the children's activities in which parents wait in the hallway. 

What parts of Family Art Studio are the most fun?

My family likes opportunities to get messy! We also enjoy getting inspired by the art we see in the Museum. And the projects that we bring home utilize good quality materials – they don't fall apart on the way home. The resulting art pieces would make good gifts for friends and family.

Do you think it's important to have children learn about art/art making when they're young? 

My youngest daughter was born in Ethiopia. When she came home, she was extremely malnourished and lagging far behind her peers in most milestones. Art has always been an intrinsically-motivating method of helping her develop her fine motor coordination – as well as her sense of imagination and accomplishment.     

What does your family get out of Family Art Studio? 

There are so many individualistic opportunities for kids, but that often means that everyone else in the family is waiting for one person. We like this activity because it is something we all can do together. Sometimes we get a little competitive about whose art is the most creative or best executed on a particular day, but it's all in good fun. Finally, my spouse and I enjoy participating in art that we left behind in middle school (Of course, that means are skills are still at middle school level, but there is always room for improvement!).

Would you recommend Family Art Studio to other families? 

Absolutely. The fact that these activities are free to families is crazy!  Family Art Studios are the very definition of quality family time!