Word Up Family Day Explores Intersection of Visual Art and Storytelling

Word Up Family Day Explores Intersection of Visual Art and Storytelling

All art tells a story, and families are invited to explore the intersection of art and storytelling at The Clark Art Institute’s Word Up Family Day. Held on Sunday, February 7th from 1-4pm in Williamstown, MA, this free event spotlights artists’ books, artistic pieces that challenge the traditional notion of a book by telling stories through nontraditional structures and symbols (both linguistic and visual). Including a variety of storytelling and story-making activities, the event can add a community-based element to studies of the art of sharing stories.

At Word Up, visitors can see some of the institute’s artists’ books displayed as part of Twenty Years of Collecting, an exhibit celebrating highlights acquired to the permanent collection during the past two decades. In addition to exploring artists’ books as a creative means of storytelling, families can engage in collective story writing at typewriter stations, try out hands-on paper marbling, explore musical storytelling, watch demonstrations from a local artist, and make unique books using a variety of creative materials (and drawing inspiration from the museum’s collection!). Families can learn about the many different ways to tell stories by exploring The Clark’s galleries and participating in the special Word Up activities; families will also be engaging in collective community-based storytelling by participating in activities of a collaborative nature.

Activities on Word Up Family Day include:

  • Artist bookmaking – Make books inspired by the Clark’s collection using a wide variety of creative materials and techniques such as paper cutting and collage.
  • Collective storytelling – Contribute to group narratives at several typewriter stations.
  • Paper marbling – Learn the art of paper marbling using ink and shaving cream.
  • Musical storytelling – Join a lyrical tour with musician Harris MacDonald, a Williamstown native. MacDonald tells the story of his life’s journey as an artist, starting with works he composed as a sixteen-year-old rapper and ending with his current style, encompassing rap to blues to dark pop.
  • Artist demonstration – Join local book artist Valerie Carrigan for a demonstration of printmaking techniques.

Families can further explore storytelling together through many means. DIY story dice and other storytelling games and activities can help to create a family culture of storytelling, promoting creativity and allowing young minds to explore self expression. Storytelling together at home can even lead to explorations of grammar and punctuation, concepts essential to sharing written stories!


The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, consisting of more than 240,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. For more information, visit clarkart.edu or call 413-458-2303.

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