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Students make 'Alaska action figures'

State Museum workshops offered free of charge

Posted: November 21, 2012 - 1:06am
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Joshua Pierson, 6, adds a modern day twist to his Alaska Action Figure with a snowboard at the Alaska State Museum on Tuesday.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Joshua Pierson, 6, adds a modern day twist to his Alaska Action Figure with a snowboard at the Alaska State Museum on Tuesday.

Some 60 elementary school children took advantage of their week off from school Tuesday to create “Alaska Action Figures” at the Alaska State Museum.

Two workshops for children were offered free of charge Tuesday afternoon at the State Museum. The museum periodically offers free workshops for kids, which Lisa Golisek, visitor services manager, said provide an educational opportunity for young visitors.

“The purpose of these workshops is to get kids engaged in the museum and the things that are in it,” said Lisa Golisek, visitor services manager at the State Museum. “We try to expose kids to different types of artwork and artists, or to learning about the history and culture of Alaska through the exhibits that are here.”

Golisek continued, “What we’re doing today by making these Native ‘action figures,’ we’re exposing these kids to some of the cultural regalia and tools and equipment that people have used for hundreds of years in Alaska, by having them make miniatures of these tools.”

The earlier workshop, from 12:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., was aimed toward younger children.

“All grade school kids are really interested in this activity, and we find that the kindergarten through second-grade parents are really hungry for more activities for their kids, so we try to do an age-appropriate session for the younger kids,” Golisek explained.

The later workshop, from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., was targeted for third- through fifth-graders.

Suzanne Sanford brought four children, including her 9-year-old daughter Brooke, to the second of the two 90-minute workshops Tuesday.

“We try to come to all of the free (events), just because it’s something fun to do,” Sanford said.

As her daughter Hannah learned about Native artifacts displayed in the museum’s clan house exhibit, Dawn Heutte admired a set of “action figures” on display as models for the students.

“Aren’t they beautiful — the different traditions?” Heutte asked, looking over figures in the traditional dress of Tlingit, Yu’pik, Inuit and other Alaska Native peoples. Many of them wielded tiny tools, including spears and bolas for hunting.

Heutte added, “My daughter enjoys the art projects here, and I enjoy the tie between the natural history and the culture, and it gives a sort of way to experience art and learn.”

After viewing the museum displays, students were split into groups and given pipe cleaners, cotton balls, paper, fabric, twine, wood, beads, tape and other materials to use in creating their own action figures. One girl asked earnestly if she could make a canoe for her figure. Golisek said yes.

Students were guided by a number of volunteer “helpers” in making the figures, ensuring that students whose parents did not stay for the activity were supervised and offering help where needed.

The free workshops at the State Museum are made available by a Youth Activities grant from the City and Borough of Juneau, Golisek said, adding, “This is the city and borough’s sales tax dollars at work.”

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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