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Explore More is a self-guided program for kids and families, normally taking place in the Tephra ICA gallery, with content centered around our exhibitions. The Home Edition is designed to explore contemporary art and art making from the comfort of your home. Explore More Home Edition is a free program, open to the public.

About Anne C. Smith

Anne C. Smith, A Point of Longing 5, 2020

Anne C. Smith: A Point of Longing

Tephra ICA is pleased to present A Point of Longing, an exhibition featuring the work of artist Anne C. Smith (b. 1985, Syracuse, New York; lives and works in Washington, D.C.). Smith considers landscape (outdoor spaces), memory, and home in her artwork. This exhibition includes a series of nine silkscreen monoprints. Monoprints in a series are produced with a common element, yet each is unique depending on the colors of ink and textures applied. Common elements in this series include a horizon line in the center of each work and shifting rectangles that the artist refers to as “windows”. 

Smith studied with Master Printmaker Lou Stovall and is currently a Teaching Artist at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. She has completed artist residencies with Artist Mother Studio at Washington Project for the Arts in Washington, D.C.; the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, CA; and the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, VA. Smith is represented by Adah Rose Gallery.

Explore More is a self-guided program for kids and families normally taking place in our gallery. The Home Edition is designed for families to enjoy virtually!

View Exhibition for Inspiration

Activity 1: Memory Match

Recommended age group: Pre-K – Early elementary school

Memory is a key element in the artist’s series. Smith reflects on a childhood memory of her bedroom window and the view outside of an open field and a playground. Each of her prints is similar, yet a little different. The same is true of the memory of her window which changes slightly in the mind with time.

Have you ever played the game memory? Would you like to make your own memory cards? Great! You will need: two sheets of paper, a ruler, a pencil, scissors, and coloring materials (crayons, markers, colored pencils).

1. Start by turning your two sheets of rectangular paper into squares. If your sheet is 8.5 x 11 inches (computer paper), you can cut off ½ inch from the long side and 3 inches from the short side.
Once you have two square sheets, mark every two inches on each side of the papers and connect the marks to form a grid (you will have 8 small squares per paper).

2. Next, think of eight of your favorite memories (i.e. a camping trip, Christmas, a playdate). Now draw a symbol representing your eight memories (i.e. a s’more for camping, a Christmas tree, a friend). Make sure to draw a copy of each symbol on the second sheet of paper so that you fill all 16 squares.

3. Cut out your 16 squares, mix them up, and turn them face down on the table. Try and match your memories! This is fun to play with a family member, especially if you share any of the memories.

Activity 2: Tinfoil Monoprint

Recommended age group: Upper elementary school

The works in Anne C. Smith’s monoprint series each feature a horizon line and rectangles or “windows”. Though these elements are found in every work, the windows shift to different sections of the prints. Do you notice any other differences? If you look closely, you will see that the colors change from work to work. For example, several prints feature very pale blues, greys, and oranges, while others add bolder colors like deep yellows and reds. Do you notice any other differences? What about texture? Some of the works look extremely smooth, while others have more variation, and look “rougher” in some areas.

You can make your very own monoprint series with just a few simple supplies: Cardboard, scissors, pencil, tinfoil, paint (acrylic or tempera), a paintbrush or roller, computer paper, and a cotton swabs (Q-tips).

1. Start by drawing a circle on the cardboard. It should be no larger than a sheet of computer paper. Cut out the circle.

2. Cover your cardboard circle with tinfoil, securing the ends of the foil on the back and making sure that the foil is smooth on the front.

3. Apply a single color of paint to the smooth side of your foil circle, making sure to cover all of the foil at the edges.

4. Next, draw a pattern on the paint with a cotton swab. It could be a flower, your favorite animal, or your name. Be creative!

5. When you are ready, place a sheet of computer paper on top of the paint. Firmly press the paper down with your fingers and palms to make sure the entire paper picks up the paint.

6. Slowly peel the paper off of the tin foil to reveal your print!

7. Continue to create variations of this print by reapplying paint—this time in a different color or multiple colors— and retracing your original design. You can also add new markings by pressing bubble wrap on the paint or by drawing with a different utensil such as a toothpick or a fork.

Activity 3: Tomorrow's Window Collage

Recommended age group: Middle school – High school

The artist was completing this series when the current pandemic was starting. The challenges that go along with this ongoing event, such as staying at home and being apart from family and friends, were on her mind. For Smith, the window in her work represents the tension between inside and outside. It also represents hope and the things that we have to look forward to in the future.

This project will allow you to name and visualize events which you are looking forward to. You will need: a sheet of paper, a ruler, a pencil, glue, and old magazines/newspapers.

1. Draw a straight line down the center of your paper. Turn the paper and draw another straight line down to create a cross or window shape.

2. Each of the four spaces or quadrants will represent a hope or dream you have. The first is a hope for tomorrow (i.e. to talk to my friend on FaceTime), the second is for next week (i.e. to complete a project), the third is for next month (to learn to bake a pie for Thanksgiving), the fourth is for next year (to go to the beach with family).

2. Find images in magazines that represent these hopes and cut/past them onto the corresponding quadrant. You can also draw your dreams. Keep this window to remind you of the good things that are ahead!

About Buoyant Force

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Buoyant Force

Tephra ICA is pleased to present Buoyant Force, a 50-foot steel sculpture by artist Sue Wrbican. The sculpture is inspired by the work of another American artist named Kay Sage (b. 1898, New York; d. 1963, Connecticut). Sage created Surrealist paintings of tall structures that resemble scaffolding with rolled up pieces of fabric. Often the structures appear in dark and empty spaces. You will notice some of these elements in Wrbican’s sculpture, for example in the curled steel which appears to be attached by giant clothespins. The Buoyant Force sculpture is based off a maquette (a small model) Wrbican made and which was displayed in an exhibition at Tephra ICA in 2017.

Wrbican is an Associate Professor and Director of Photography at the School of Art at George Mason University. She holds an MFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BA in English Writing with a concentration in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh.

Read More About Buoyant Force for Inspiration

Activity 1: Upcycled Bug Buddies

Recommended age group: Pre-k – Early elementary school

Buoyant Force, the title of Sue Wrbican’s sculpture, is made of recycled materials such as reclaimed steel pipes. Instead of becoming discarded garbage, these pipes were used to create a work of art that can be enjoyed by all.

You can also make a piece of art while helping the environment. Would you like to try? Wonderful! Follow the steps below to use recycled materials and found objects to make your own upcycled insect!

You will need: scissors, pencil, tape or glue, a toilet paper or paper towel tube, old newspapers or magazines, drawing materials (markers, crayons, etc.), pipe cleaners or twigs from outside (ask your parents if you can go outside to look for these), and yarn or string (optional).

1. Take your paper towel or toilet paper tube. This will be the body of your bug. Decorate the body any way you wish—stripes and spots are great choices, or you might choose to wrap colorful yarn or string around the tube for a textured effect.

2. Now it’s time to construct your bug’s wings. Find some old newspaper or magazines (make sure to ask permission from an adult to use). Use a pencil to draw a circle about 4-5 inches across. Cut out your circle. Draw a line down the center of the circle and cut along the line. You now have two wings (trim to adjust to the shape you would like)! Color your wings if you wish and attach them to your bug’s body with glue or tape. Alternatively, you can find two leaves for your wings.

3. Make your bugs legs by attaching pipe cleaners or by finding small twigs outside. Your bug can have as many legs as you like! You can also use these materials to attach antennae to your bug’s head.

4. The final step is making your bug’s face. You can cut out two circles from newspaper, and then fill in a smaller circle in black. You can also use recycled water bottle caps or buttons.


Activity 2: Paper Engineering

Recommended age group: Upper elementary school

A large sculpture is typically created with the help of a team who collaborates to create a finished product. As discussed, Sue Wrbican is the artist who envisioned and designed the Buoyant Force sculpture. From here, she worked with a team including a curator, metal fabricators, painters, and engineers, among others. Engineers are experts in various materials and help to make sure structures are installed correctly.

You can experiment in engineering by using lots of materials, including simple paper. To make your own paper sculpture, just follow the steps below. 

You will need: several sheets of paper (construction paper, computer paper, and cardstock all work great), a pencil, scissors, and glue/tape/stapler

1. Take a sheet of paper and experiment with 3-D techniques. A few suggestions are:

Tab: Cut a strip of paper to the size you like. Fold back the end and crease. Place a small amount of tape or glue under the “tab” and attach to your paper or a larger structure.
Roll or loop: Cut a strip of paper and attach the two ends together with tape/glue/stapler. You can also wind the strip of paper around your finger, hold in place, and then unravel to create a curl or loop.
Accordion pleats: Cut a strip of paper and fold over 1 inch. Flip the strip of paper over and fold back. Continue this pattern until the end of the paper.
Fringe: Cut a strip of paper. Hold the paper so that it is horizontal and cut small slits into the paper which are close together

2. Combine different techniques to build up a paper sculpture of your own. Pay attention to how the paper balances—you may have to use certain techniques to help some areas stand up.

3. Add color by using different colored paper or by coloring the strips of paper before you begin folding and gluing them into place.


Activity 3: Public Art Sketchbook

Recommended age group: Middle school – High school

The Buoyant Force sculpture is considered public art. Public art is located in a public space for everyone to enjoy. Oftentimes, public art is located where many people gather, such as a park. There are many things to think about when creating a public art sculpture, such as materials, the environment in which it placed, the colors and shape it will be, and the name. Additionally, signs installed around the structure can help to better explain it to the public.

With just a few simple materials, you can make a Public Art Sketchbook to visualize your own creations.

You will need: several sheets of paper (computer or construction paper), a stapler, a pencil, and colored pencils/markers (optional).

1. To begin, make your sketchbook by folding 4–5 sheets of paper in half together. Make sure your paper is laid out horizontally in front of you when you fold into a notebook size.

2. Staple along the fold of papers three times.

3. Flip your sketchbook open to the first page (after the cover) and begin brainstorming your public art piece. You can make doodles or write down ideas. A few things to think about are:

The name of the sculpture
The materials it is made of
The size
The environment (i.e. urban city, park, desert, metro station)
The shape and color
The overall concept (What is the purpose of the sculpture? What does it stand for?)

4. Flip the page and begin sketching your sculpture. Try to add details like trees, people, cars, and buildings to show the scale of the artwork in comparison. You can also add color with colored pencils or markers.

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