For the third year in a row, the Walker’s Family Programs has commissioned a local artist to create an illustrated activity sheet for families. Traditionally unveiled at December’s Free First Saturday, these creations have taken the shape of a whimsical diagram of a playground-like museum (Andy Ducett, 2011); and a cleverly blended comic strip/map (Todd Balthazor, 2012). We’re delighted to continue this project and introduce the artist for this year’s activity sheet.
Alyssa Baguss put her own twist (and turns) on the idea of an interactive map to Walker galleries. To appreciate all that goes into her work, we asked the artist to share a bit about herself, her practice, and what she’s created.
Where did you grow up?
Maquoketa, Iowa—you know where that is, right? I was always playing outside. If I wasn’t swimming I was up in a tree all day.
What does your family do for fun?
When we are together (which isn’t as often as it used to be) we spend a lot of time outdoors. I’m really lucky to live with really easy-going funny people.
What was your first job?
I bused tables at a pancake house…..sticky maple syrupy tables.
When did you decide to commit to a career as an artist?
…..since I was 5? I didn’t pursue it as an actual career until I was in my early twenties when I realized that I would be living a horribly boring life if I couldn’t do my favorite thing every day. I hate being bored.
What do you absolutely love to draw?
I love to draw technology and think about how it influences how we experience the world. I use drawing as a tool to problem solve and answer questions that I am thinking about.
When you aren’t drawing you are…
Exploring nature, researching ideas, growing things, watching hot air balloons, playing an instrument or thinking about what I am going to draw next.
Who or what inspires you and your work?
For inspiration I visit galleries and museums, spend time in nature and do a lot of reading and research into things I’m curious about. I live by a pretty simple philosophy: be yourself, do what makes you happy and surround yourself with people who do the same. My family is exceptionally understanding of my…….intensity……and without that type of unconditional love the world wouldn’t be as shiny.
Tell us a little bit about your creative process for this gallery activity?
I spent a few years as an info guide at the Walker Art Center. As an info guide, I was always giving directions to guests who were lost and complaining about the WAC being too much like a maze. A maze seemed like the perfect gallery activity where you may get confused, lost or take a wrong turn, and still see some incredible things along the way.
I researched the artwork and architecture at the Walker and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and found pieces that interested me for the maze. I literally cut and pasted the composition together into a maze design with paper images, then drew the images with graphite. I tried not to make the maze too difficult but there are a few challenging areas. Just like the Walker, I want you to occasionally exclaim, “What? How did we end up here?” Besides, I tend to find the best things when I get lost. Just embrace it.
Come to Free First Saturday on December 7 from 10 am–3 pm to pick up the final version of Alyssa’s interactive gallery activity.