Two interactive Mathers events explore facets of culture
By Sanya Ali
Two upcoming events, both Thursday evening, cover different subjects but share an objective of uniting fun, interactive activities with the educational experience.
The first of these events, “Baskauta :: Bachao :: Basket: An Interactive Basket Experience,” begins at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the museum.
Carissa Carman, visiting assistant professor of textiles, said she will introduce patrons to a variety of unusual baskets.
“The underground collections are endless, so I’ll be going down there and finding some more nontraditional approaches — certain techniques, ceremonial objects, less utilitarian components for basketry forms,” Carman said.
Following an introduction to these novel forms, Carman said she will explain the origins of each example basket and how materials tell viewers a lot about where those materials come from.
Attendees will also try their hand at making sample baskets.
Carman said she’s excited to see the diverse range of people who will attend from across the academic and artistic spectrum. She said the objective of the event is to connect communities — artists and scholars, classic and modern and others.
“My goal in presenting this type of event is trying to build a bridge between historic and contemporary processes and explore the range of conceptual and utilitarian use,” Carman said. “It’s so great to bring anthropologists and fine artists together.”
Jason Jackson, director of the Mathers Museum, said the broader goal of the event is creating a more hands-on learning experience for anyone interested in the Themester topic “@ Work: The Nature of Labor on a Changing Planet,” which the museum celebrates in its larger basketry exhibition.
“Our museum is committed to supporting our campus’ emphasis on art, design and hands-on learning — what we call a ‘culture of building and making,’” Jackson said. “This event — and our larger Themester basketry project — fits in well with this campus goal.”
The second event of the evening is the “Mathers After Hours: Asian Game Night.” The event begins at 6 p.m. Thursday and is a collaboration between Mathers and the Asian Culture Center.
Sarah Hatcher, head of programs and education at Mathers, said the event stemmed from a need to reach a larger community of students who may not come to the museum during traditional events.
“These special, after-hours events were created to encourage students and members of the community to visit us in new ways,” Hatcher said. “We hope events with evening hours allow students who are too busy during the day to come and spend some time with us doing something fun.”
Jackson said one goal of museums in general is to be a safe space to celebrate different cultures.
“They are also supposed to be fun and places where people can get involved as doers, not just passive recipients of programming,” Jackson said. “This is the spirit of our game nights and much else that we are doing.”
Sarah Stamey, program associate with the Asian Culture Center, said she hopes to explore further the diversity in the city and at IU.
“I hope people will come away with the idea that Bloomington is a great place to live and learn about other cultures,” Stamey said.
Jackson said both events call for a more engaged approach than the traditional museum experience.
“While long thought of as quiet places to go for inspiration, hence the ‘muse’ in museum, increasingly, museums are important places for young adults to socialize — to go with friends and to go and meet new people,” Jackson said. “We see this in most major cities, and hopefully we can join this trend at IU.”
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