When it comes to facts about dinosaurs, children seem to know enough to suggest that they have already begun to become budding paleontologists. In Utah, dinosaurs are always a popular topic. Geologists and paleontologists have developed a timeline that spans many millions of years while documenting the existence of more than 115 species. Allosaurus is Utah’s state fossil. An expedition in 1857 in southern Utah led to the discovery of the bones of Dystrophaeus, known as the rarest, oldest and first example of a sauropod dinosaur in western North America. Brachiosaurus, which is estimated to have weighed 80 tons or the equivalent of 15 adult elephants, is believed to have lived in what is now known as the Morrison Formation of Utah.
But if you have children who are obsessed with dinosaurs, there is a decent chance that they already know these facts. For this year’s Utah Arts Festival, Margaret Willis, the veteran coordinator of Art Yard, decided that with the festival’s first full-scale presence in three years, this was the opportune time to bring a theme she’s been waiting to implement for quite some time – dinosaurs.
For Willis, the practical art activities to highlight this theme emerged quickly, almost by instinct, and the various non-profit organizations and museums that will be involved in Art Yard this year capture the spectrum of creative and informative opportunities to nurture anyone. young person’s interests in dinosaurs. “It’s really easy to adapt this to children’s interests in dinosaurs because they do not see them as nightmare-like monsters, but as the kind of creatures that make them want to learn and know more about them,” Willis says.
Also, the value of upcycled materials is again central to the artistic vision that emerges with incredible bursts of do-it-yourself projects and imaginative take-home projects that many parents are overjoyed to discover they do not overburden their wallets. The doctrine is clear: Creative activities do not have to break the bank, and they are sensitive to being smart and responsible for the environment. Many parents are relieved to discover that do-it-yourself projects do not have to be complicated or costly to procure materials, Willis explains.
Every year, Willis already collects materials in the middle of winter, which will be transformed into imaginative projects. She contacts neighbors and friends as well as business owners to collect several items, including paper tubes for toilet paper and containers and lids that can often be thrown in recycling bins. Jugs and cardboard boxes from a large box retailer? Willis gladly takes them. For those who have large stores of plastic food containers or bowls they have collected from ordering food during the pandemic and have washed, Willis will also accept them. Virtually any material is worthy of being upcycled for an art project.
Recently, she posted the call on social media for all the old furniture that, instead of being discarded, could be used to build dinosaur sculptures and installations on site during the festival. This year’s theme is well suited to so many different types of materials and items, including old dishes.
These “junkosaurs” will be available for young artists to adorn as they see fit. There will also be Jurassic insect installations for decoration. There will be the opportunity to design weights for their skins, construct teeth for their jaws as well as claws for their extremities and wings. There will be a Triassic garden exhibit available for growing conifers, cycadophytes, ginkgo, ferns and large arborescent horsetail to spread around the landscape.
The basic sculptures for Art Yard, which will be open daily for dinner until 9 p.m., are made by residents at Eva Carlston Academy, a treatment center in Salt Lake City where Willis teaches art and therapeutic art to young women.
Almost all participating non-profit organizations have planned a dinosaur-specific activity. Rock Canyon Poets will be present daily from 6 p.m. to kl. helps young writers write their own short poem about their favorite thing about dinosaurs. Utah Black Artist Collective collaborates with Clever Octopus, which specializes in sparse arts and crafts materials, daily from 6 p.m. to 8pm to present the “I AM” workshop, where participants can share their favorite words and sounds about dinosaurs on vinyl records or by displaying their words in the moment, life or day on a decorative button that they can wear.
The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art will provide materials for attendees to create a fossil sculpture or textured art representing dinosaurs. What dinosaur activity event would be complete without the presence of the Natural History Museum of Utah, which has one of the most impressive dinosaur exhibits in the US NHMU staff will be present to explore various arrangements of horns on ceratopsic dinosaurs, of which the museum has the world’s largest exhibition of its kind. Visitors can design and decorate their own ceratopsian hat to take home.
Make Salt Lake wants dinosaur dolls to distribute. Beth Sallay coordinated the project, where she drew pictures of various dinosaurs, and they produced scaled-down laser-cut images, which are attached to clothes pins. The detail of the small pictures is impressive and the cutouts are professional and smooth. The clothesline makes it possible to move the dinosaur as if it were chopping down. Sallay says she has already earned more than 2,000 for the festival and is likely to do more. Sallay has also developed a line of “nerd badges” that highlight all sorts of pop culture references from the 1980s onwards. The felt marks are deserved for those who can immediately identify the image and its cultural significance.
For monthly membership fees, which are available at the regular, professional, student, and veteran levels, members can use the various stores and services on Make Salt Lake, which operate from a warehouse in the Utah Arts Alliance building just west of downtown. These include a fully stocked wood tool shop with lathes, drills, saws and other devices, as well as 3D printers and all sorts of craft tools. Members can, for example, be trained by master carpenters who can help them with the proper use of the machinery. The metal shop is equipped to gain experience for MIM (metal injection molding) certification. There are about 300 members.
The Utah Museum of Fine Arts will demonstrate and allow participants to experiment with paleo species, which involve drawing or painting prehistoric creatures such as dinosaurs. Visitors will be able to create their own fossil friction and then “meat” it out by drawing skin, teeth, feathers or horns. The Institute of Fine Arts’ Dino-Whimsy will also give participants the opportunity to create their own fantasy dinosaur drawings
Art Yard will also be home to the Toddler Zone, as well as one of the site’s most popular activities: the Summerhays Music Center’s Instrument Petting Zoo.