The “Imagination Playground” at Hatfield House is not the type of art installation that’s meant to be stared at from afar. Visitors are meant to dance with the puppets, to sculpt with pieces of wood, or to create and collaborate in any way that feels most natural.
The project is the work of dancer/choreographer Christina Castro-Tauser and visual artists Roger Wing, Bariq Cobbs, and Santi Castro. It’s meant to inspire creativity and contemplation while engaging with the surrounding Strawberry Mansion community.
“This is a collaboration and we were inspired by each other,” said Castro-Tauser, who is also company director of Expansions Contemporary Dance Ensemble. “The idea is for other people to be inspired, too. To create their own dances or movements or art pieces to go with what we have collaborated on.”
The artists’ unveiled the works on June 19th as part of a Juneteenth celebration at Hatfield House. The kick off included actors and dancers who brought large puppets to life. Children reacted with delight as the puppets unexpectedly begin to move. “It was, ‘Ah!’ They just woke up,” Castro-Tauser said. “The best part for me is watching art come to life and how it inspires everyone around it.”
On Saturday, September 4th, visit the grounds of Hatfield House for a free live art demonstration from 2-6PM, featuring Robert Wing wood sculpting with chainsaws and Anthony Carlos Molden and Bariq Cobbs spray painting decorative finishes. Enjoy refreshments, meet the artists, and see for yourself how the massive colorful statues adorning the Hatfield lawn are made!
The artists will officially close the exhibit on September 11th with site-specific art and dance made with dancers and community members ranging in age from 6 to 65+. There will also be shorter choreographed works and six large sculptures exploring the theme of imagination. Smaller works created by the artists and community members will create a maze for visitors to enjoy and for dancers to perform.
“Hatfield House has given us a place to create,” Castro-Tauser said. “Too often art focuses on the end product and the process is ignored. I love the process, but the product is beautiful.”
“Imagination Playground” is currently displayed on the grounds of the Hatfield House at 33rd and Girard through September 11. The grounds are open for visiting daily. Learn more about the Hatfield House here.
Images courtesy of Roger Wing and Fairmount Park Conservancy.
“Imagination Playground” at the Hatfield House was made possible with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and ArtPlace America.