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Playful Finger Puppets at Providence Children’s Museum

Saturday, October 23, 2010

 

The Providence Children’s Museum welcomes a new exhibit of playful finger puppets, handcrafted by Providence Artist and RISD graduate Megan Jeffery.

I Live in a Small Town features 17 imaginative and intricate miniature scenes that range from a jamboree of instrument-playing barnyard animals to a beach with sandcastles constructed by crabs.

All of the miniatures manage to capture the imagination of children and adults alike with their attention to detail and playful absurdity.

Jeffery, who also works as a children's book illustrator, explained that creating miniatures allows her more freedom to play while creating her artwork: "When I design three-dimensionally, it seems I have more latitude for 'play.'"

"If I have all of my 'toys' (puppets, props) around me, I can arrange them in a variety of settings," she said. "Arranging elements (as opposed to designing them from the ground-up) takes virtually no time at all, whereas if I were to do this same thing with DRAWING, it would take a billion times longer."

Story Telling with Miniatures

What makes each display intriguing is the sense that every character, prop and scene has a story behind. Jeffery claims that developing these stories is an important part of being an artist, saying, "It's just one of the facets of being an illustrator: we're storytellers."

"A lot of these guys' stories are 'revealed' when they interact with one another. A prop used in the setting up of a scene to photograph can give clues as to who the character is. If an odd pairing of prop to puppet makes me laugh or makes me wonder, 'Why are they doing that?' then I'm engaged and it's almost like I'm the 'reader' who can't wait to find out what happens next, instead of being the person who's creating the backstory," she said. "It's like kids playing with their dolls or ACTION FIGURES. Except it's an 'adult' doing it."

Childhood Playtime

Jeffery has been story telling with miniatures since childhood. Raised without a TV, she was encouraged to "make your own fun." Jeffery went beyond the average dollhouse imaginings and expanded her creativity to an entire miniature town on the top of her dresser, called "Beetlegrass."

"For a lot of girls/women, I'm sure, there is a fondness for all things doll-housey. I suppose I had this feeling towards dollhouses too, growing up, but more so with the town named 'Beetlegrass' that lived on my dresser. It was the bigger scope of LOTS of families - not just one - lots of things going on, with tons of things that needed to be made that got me going back then, and which still 'has' me, inspiring me to create the many scenes in the Children's Museum display."

Jeffery’s exhibit will be on display through February 6, 2011. Be sure to visit her imaginative Small Town if you are in need of a whimsical escape.

Providence Children's Museum, 100 South St, Providence, 273-5437, Tues-Sun and Mon holidays 9am-6pm, select Fri till 8pm.

All pictures were provided by the Providence Children's Museum.
 

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