News Column

New exhibit brings stories to life

July 16, 2014

By Josephine Mendez, Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va.

July 16--Through the use of homemade puppets, iPads, green screen technology and more, the Clay Center will bring children's favorite stories to life in its new exhibit, "What's YOUR Story?"

Opening Saturday in the STEAMworks gallery, the exhibit will combine elements of traditional and digital storytelling for an interactive experience for all ages.

Lewis Ferguson, director of art and science education, said "What's YOUR Story?" has been a year in the making and he is looking forward to the surprised expression on guests' faces when they walk into the completely revamped space.

"I'm wanting to see that 'wow' face," Ferguson said. "This space is different, it's unusual, it's better than I ever expected. We will also be able to incorporate much of what we already do, like our story time and our summer camps."

The entire space reads like a giant story. At the entrance, the wall is filled with famous beginnings from fairy tales, films and more. Opposite that wall is a collage of book endings including the ever-famous, "And they lived happily ever after," and "The End."

Several stations will be set up throughout the exhibit including a Digital Puppet Theater, where guests use iPads to create their own puppet show and display it on a big screen, a Main Stage complete with costumes and props, and a Discover the Imagination Station, which utilizes a green screen to place guests in a variety of landscapes.

This unique display will incorporate STEAM, science, technology, engineering, art and math in a subtle, yet fun experience.

"It exposes kids to science along with the visual and performing arts all in one place," spokeswoman LeAnn Dickens said.

First to test out the space were children participating in the Clay Center's Visual Stories summer camp.

Using an iPad application, the campers learn how to create a video using stop motion animation technology. To produce their film, they design a story line and then use props to make it come alive. They start by photographing a single frame and then slowly moving their props, taking a snapshot of the scene each time a prop is moved.

The app then puts the photos in order and plays it back to create the movie.

This tedious process takes hours while the finished product may only be a few minutes long.

Nathaniel Williams, 12, from Tennessee, created a movie using a pile of Legos that slowly morph together to form a tower.

"Sometimes it is difficult because it is really easy to mess up," Nathaniel said. "If you take a picture you don't want to or move something too much, you have to delete it or start over."

Many of the station will be self explanatory like the stage and the puppet show, but Ferguson said there will also be staff available to teach guests how to work some of the newer technology.

"The kids will probably teach us just as much as we can teach them," Ferguson said. "They are doing things on the iPads that I never even knew about."

"What's YOUR Story?" will be held in the downstairs STEAMworks gallery through June 28, 2015. Admission is included in the regular museum gallery admission and is $6 for children and $7.50 for adults

Contact writer Josephine Mendez at or 304-348-7917. Follow her at


(c)2014 the Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, W.Va.)

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Source: Charleston Daily Mail (WV)

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