Looking for Art That Moves You? Try Moving Your Body.
Check out this picture. Do you know what you’re looking at?
Yes: a museum gallery. Yes: adorable, curious, little ones. But why are they lying on the ground? What’s going on here?
This is actually a common sight during one of the many movement-based tours at the High Museum of Art. Toddlers, infants, and guardians alike are welcome to interact and explore the High Museum’s beautiful galleries in unconventional ways using their bodies and imaginations.
This particular image is from a recent movement tour in our exhibition Al Taylor, What Are You Looking At? (closing March 18). The tour was led by Nicole Livieratos, a teaching artist at the High. Nicole’s background is in movement and choreography, and she is passionate about using creative movement in museums. “It’s an inviting experience that breaks unconscious, unwritten rules for looking. It can open up huge conversations.”
What is creative movement?
First, let’s talk about what it’s not. Creative movement is not dance. No rhythm is required, and it’s not about learning steps or techniques.
Creative movement is an informal, active, and imaginative way to interact with art. It’s all about communicating your individual interpretation or response to art through movement. It’s also accessible and fully adaptable to what your body is comfortable doing.
The High began offering movement tours about 3 years ago in response to feedback from our family audiences.
Caregivers expressed that they were intimidated to experience art with their kids because they felt they lacked the right vocabulary or background knowledge. We want everyone to know that those things are not required to enjoy art! We began exploring movement as a tool to remove barriers and to empower visitors to interact with art on their own terms. We find that movement levels the playing field. An art historian and a two-year-old both have bodies, and they can both express themselves through movement.
The High Museum of Art is not the only one using movement tours; creative movement is catching on at museums across the country. To develop our tours, we worked closely with Sharon Shaffer, founder of the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center. Each toddler tour covers two artworks and incorporates things to touch with movement-based activities related to the piece. These exercises are particularly wonderful for children, as they are designed to develop motor skills, stimulate the imagination, and promote creativity.
Nicole Livieratos recently led toddler tours and infant tours through Al Taylor, What Are You Looking At?
Nicole loves leading tours of modern and contemporary art. “For some reason, with contemporary art, people feel like they need outside information — they don’t. We start our creative movement tours without giving much information about the piece. It’s more about feeling comfortable trusting yourself.” Walking through Al Taylor, What Are You Looking At?, Nicole was excited to create tours inspired by Taylor’s artworks. “I respond to Al Taylor’s thinking about the everyday and looking differently at things we know. Each work is intentional.… He’s saying, ‘Look at this.’ It’s about looking and looking again.”
When Nicole mentions the exhibition’s emphasis on the act of looking, she’s referring to an expanded sense of what it means to look. For Nicole, movement can be an entry point for close looking. Throughout her many tours with toddlers, Nicole has seen firsthand that some little ones can’t explain what they see in words, but they can express themselves through movement.
She points out that “Art is inherently kinesthetic — it’s done with the hands. Yet we often look at art in a very non-physical way. This instrument, your body, is with you at all times. It can enhance and heighten looking.”
Experience a movement tour for yourself!
Infant tours are offered on Second Sundays
Art Movers (all ages welcome) is offered on Second Sundays
Close Up: Four Ways to Look at Art (all ages welcome) is offered on First Fridays at 7 and 8 p.m.
By Eva Berlin, Digital Content Specialist. Thanks to Nicole Livieratos and Nicole Cromartie for offering their insights into movement tours.
All art by Al Taylor (American, 1948–1999) © Estate of Al Taylor, Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London
“X-Ray Tube,” 1995, inflated rubber inner tube with metal valve, grease crayon, and plastic-coated wire, 75 ¼ x 50 ½ x 50 ½ inches. The Estate of Al Taylor, Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London.
“6-8-9,” 1988, brass, wood, and enamel paint, 31 x 15 x 44 inches. Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland.