"The Gift of Art" Events Summary

The setting: Ragdale, a historical landmark and artist's retreat on Chicago's north shore. The purpose: The Gift of Art workshop, conducted by Yale Alum, Margot McMahon. Yale alumni, family and friends convened on a recent daffodil-filled Saturday morning to learn about additive, subtractive and constructive sculpting processes. Margot facilitated the hands-on experience of bringing an artistic vision from flat pieces of paper to three dimensions. With a theme of Alexander Calder's "Cirque," Margot inspired the group to create their own three-ring circus.

The learning experience culminated in a highly animated circus performance. Young children and their parents together envisioned and constructed a circus horse and rider, and a cannon that propelled performers high over the performance tent. A woman brought a trapeze artist to life, while another helped her gleeful autistic brother build a tight rope walker. The circus performance was punctuated by a musical chime sculpture developed from stainless steel plates and screws that once held another participant's bones together.

Margot notes, "What makes this workshop tick is a bit of wonder. I am always gratified by the unifying and community-building culmination in the collaborative circus performance that levels all playing fields and brings people together. Maybe that is what art-making does?"

The workshop was based on "The Gift of Art: Sculpture Ventures for Young Adults," produced this year by Yale Printing and Publishing Services. Since the book's release, the power of the Gift of Art is being realized through a series of workshops starting with an all-day Yale Center for British Art's workshop at Chapel Haven Center in New Haven, and followed by four Chicago-based workshops.

"Ragdale in Schools" will offer "The Gift of Art" to twenty artists to adapt this sculptural workshop to their own disciplines of dance, painting, choreography and sculpture. Twenty workshops for elementary students will be given in Zion and Waukegan schools in 2016. A Gift of Art Workshop for adults and children is scheduled at the Oak Park Library main branch on Saturday, June 25 from 10-12. The cost is $5.

For more information about The Gift of Art, or to order copies of the book, visit margotmcmahon.com.

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