Snow Days/Familiarte

Cecily Kiss

Children participating in the Snow Days program in 2012. (Source: The Signpost archives)
Children participating in the Snow Days program in 2012. (Source: The Signpost archives)

Snow Days/Familiarte at the Shaw Gallery will be returning to Weber State University on Nov. 7. The free family art program offers an opportunity for families with children ages 3 to 12 to participate in multicultural hands-on art projects, activities and tours of the Mary Elizabeth Dee Shaw Gallery. The program is open to English and Spanish-speaking families.

The program has four sessions, which take place on the first Saturdays of November, December, February and March. Weber State University student Brianna Edwards, who works at the Mary Elizabeth Dee Shaw Gallery as part of the gallery crew, says that Snow Days/Familiarte is an opportunity for families to make art together and see the fun in it.

“Activities vary each month depending on holiday themes and current exhibitions in the gallery. A variety of art materials and techniques are used such as drawing, sculpture, interactive art and paint,” said Holly Jarvis, who runs the program and is the visual arts outreach manager for the Department of Visual Art and Design. “Snow Days/Familiarte is unique because it provides families with an affordable, educational, weekend activity to participate in together,” Jarvis said.

Arts and crafts projects and activities for the first session of Snow Days/Familiarte include: sock puppet creatures inspired by Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor’s artwork, Yam block print and shaving cream marbled paper, according to Jarvis.

The current exhibition at the Mary Elizabeth Dee Shaw Gallery is a solo show by Sacramento artist Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor titled “Confetti and Distress/Honey and Suspicion.” O’Connor re-purposes found objects and textiles to create anthropomorphic sculptures. Participants of Snow Days/Familiarte are welcomed to tour the gallery and view the exhibition.

Snow Days at the Mary Elizabeth Dee Shaw Gallery is open to all who want to participate, but is specifically geared toward families with younger children. The program focuses on a multicultural experience by keeping staff on site who are fluent in English and Spanish.

“We always try to have at least one bilingual English/Spanish speaking staff on site during the event because we want to welcome and encourage local Hispanic families to attend Snow Days and tour the Shaw Gallery,” said Lydia Gravis, the creator of Snow Days/Famliarte and current Shaw Gallery director. Gravis says the gallery wants to keep it’s outreach programming financially accessible to anyone interested in participating.

Gravis created the program in 2008 when she was the visual arts outreach manager. Holly Jarvis is entering her second year managing Snow Days/Familiarte. Grant funding through the RAMP tax initiative and the Marriner S. Eccles Foundation has funded the program each year.