Friday, January 8, 2016

MC Escher exhibit at NCMA

MC Escher may be one of the best known artists because of his unique trademark style, but have your kids met him yet? Now is the time as the NCMA exhibit closes on January 24th!

I wanted to be one of the first to see the new MC Escher exhibit - "The Worlds of M. C. Escher: Nature, Science, and Imagination" - at Raleigh's North Carolina Museum of Art back in October (and avoiding the State Fair crowds was a big bonus). I went with fellow SoDu Parents Posse mom Leah and our kids and wow - was it impressive! Since it was opening weekend, they had a lot of amazing events to coincide which are not currently happening, but the exhibit is more than enough reason to go over there. 

The exhibit is the most comprehensive Escher exhibition ever presented in the United States, and includes 130 "woodcuts, lithographs, wood engravings, and mezzotints, as well as numerous drawings, watercolors, wood blocks, and lithographic stones never before exhibited." The exhibit has something from the Dutch graphic artist’s entire career, "from his earliest print to his final masterpiece... [and] ...highlights Escher’s explorations of nature, mathematics, science, and the realm of his imagination. Escher’s best-known prints are on view, as well as his lesser-known portraits and Italian landscapes." (from NCMA's website) 

One of the activities opening weekend had was make your own infinity style Mobius Strip, made famous in many of Escher's works. A mobius strip is created when you take a single strip of paper and giving one of the two ends a half twist, and then reattaching the two ends. We stamped and decorated ours and have them hanging from strings in our kitchen. Super easy to make at home and a great way of making the exhibit come alive for your kids.

They also had a pop up of a 3D printer, where you could have them create a lizard or other simple item, and a burner where they cut out paper versions of MC Escher's famous lizard tessellation branded with your name on them. They also had lizard stencils and brightly colored chalk and people were making them into patterns all over the sidewalk.

Although it was a beautiful fall day, we knew the great stuff was inside so downstairs we went and it was just amazing. I never realized how prolific he was in so many mediums, like woodballs that he carved with intricate patterns and delicate pen and ink portrayals of landscapes. I could have spent hours there because there was so much to take in. When we went the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit wasn't open yet, so I can't speak to it, but I'm sure it's wonderful too. Photography isn't allowed in the exhibit but it is okay in the area next to the gift store and in the lobby. (All photos here are either from the internet or in the lobby area.)

Another way of getting your kids immersed in the bizarre geometry of MC Escher afterwards is to download the beautiful and captivating interactive puzzle game Monument Valley - available at the app store. The designer of the game actually came and spoke at a NCMA event in December to coincide with this exhibit. In the screenshot below you can see how they were inspired by Escher.

If you want to combine your visit with a special event, I've listed some below. Please double check dates, times, and cost before attending.

Events this weekend:
Cocktails, Craft, and Camaraderie: Perler Bead Geometry
JANUARY 8, 2016 | 6:30 PM
Hang out with friends and get down to some geometric crafting inspired by M. C. Escher’s works. Create a cool three-color illusion piece with Perler beads that you can hang up in your office. One Toasted Marshmallow Russian is included in the ticket price.

Special Family Tour of The Worlds of M. C. Escher
An free interactive 30-minute tour (with paid exhibition ticket) for families with children ages 6–12. Sign up that day; first come, first served.
Box Office | (919) 715-5923 (click on related events and scroll down to the bottom to see these)

Also (not MC Escher, but still fun):
Weekend Family-Friendly Tour: Hang on to Your Hats! (this happens throughout the month)
January 15 is National Hat Day. Look for fancy hats, a decorative crown, and unusual headdresses in the collection. Half-hour tours for kids ages 5–11 and their adult companions. (This link is just for one of the times.)

The following weekend (last weekend the DaVinci exhibit is open): 

Family Fun Saturdays: Specimen Lab
SATURDAY, JANUARY 16, 2016 | 10 AM and 1PM
M. C. Escher and Leonardo da Vinci were keen observers of the natural world. Hone your own powers of observation as you use art to explore and record the colors, patterns, textures, and  forms found in the natural world.
Gallery tour plus studio workshops for families. A different theme each time means there’s always something new to discover. 
Please note: All participants (children and adults) must have a ticket. These popular workshops sell out quickly, so reserve your spot early. This event does have fees.
Go here and scroll down, click on the time you want to buy tickets online:

An event on the last day of the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit:
Pop-Up Art: Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester. 
Create a miniature journal inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester. 
Free. All ages; children must be accompanied by an adult


What we liked: There is a lot to see and do for the price of admission, two exhibits for one! Plus you can see all the normal works as well, then enjoy the outside trail and sculptures. This might be your only chance to see Escher's works in person, and it's hard to pass up such an opportunity. 

What we would change: I can't think of a thing! Don't miss it!

(919) 839-6262

Cost (The Worlds of M. C. Escher and Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester are ticketed together. Cost does not refer to special events above, those are separate and may be free or have a cost.):
Child 6 and under: free

Youth 7-18: $12.00
Adult 19+: $18.00

The Worlds of M. C. Escher has been extended to January 24, 2016. During that time, the Museum will also offer extended hours. The Da Vinci exhibit ends on Jan 17th.
Extended Exhibition Hours, January 18–24:
Monday 10 am–5 pm  [West Building closed]
Tuesday–Thursday 10 am–5 pm
Friday–Saturday 10 am–9 pm
Sunday 10 am–5 pm

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