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When we embarked on the adventure of Mass Creativity 2016, Valerie De Castro, Catherine Aitken, and I knew three things:

  1. We needed to come up with a concept that complimented The Wonder Sound, an installation by artist Wes Sam-Bruce set to open in June of 2016.
  2. We wanted participants to have the opportunity to both play and to create.
  3. We needed to create a space that our visitors had never seen before; something that would feel like they were stepping into a new world.

With these three goals in mind, we began the process of designing the Mass Creativity workshops. Sitting in a bright green room known to the New Children’s Museum staff as the Idea Lab, we spread a giant piece of butcher paper across a table and began to brainstorm. Writing every single idea that came to our minds: portals, sculptures, maps, toddler selfies; nothing was too ambitious during our preliminary brainstorming session.

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With time, certain ideas that we wrote down would strike a chord with us. Like when Valerie very casually mentioned “… what about doors?”, we all stood up wide eyed and shouted “Yes! Doors! We need doors!”  It was in this way that the doorways workshop was born. Similarly, other small “eureka!” moments eventually evolved into the other two Mass Creativity concepts: flag-making, and the Wonder Palace.

Once our concepts had been established it was time to get to work trying to transfer these ideas into a physical form. Lists where made, materials purchased, and prototypes and observations were completed.

Before we knew it, it was time for our first workshop. We had many questions on our minds: would people like it? Was it conceptual enough? Would children engage with it the way we hoped they would? Would they get it?

I don’t think anything can ever prepare you to see a project that you have been working on for over two months finally come to life. A few days before our first workshop opened at the LGBT Center, we stood looking at all the materials we had lying in front of us: pieces of PVC pipes, blank flag templates, a simple door.  We asked ourselves: how will this all come together? Would it be what we wanted it to be? Will it be art? The questions were never-ending.

MCD Process

When workshop day came, one by one the pile of PVC was put together, a piece of fabric was draped over it, and the Wonder Palace was created. It was every bit as beautiful as we had hoped. Twinkling lights welcomed you into the space and a secret revealed itself only those willing to see its wonder.

Little by little mosaics and bottle caps and feathers were glued by small hands and that simple door became a piece of art and a play space all in one.

Rows and rows of flags were made showing love and pride in one’s community, unifying not only the LGBT Center, or the South Bay community, but also all of San Diego. Our workshop had not turned into what we expected; they were even better, it was magical.

    And that is how we discovered how wonder was created.

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