There’s a cave in the Guenzel Gallery. Measuring 10 feet high above ground, it contains imagery that harkens back 40,000 years ago to man’s first marks, including handprints. The cave is the centerpiece of our annual children’s exhibit We LOVE Art: Story Symbols and the first stop on a young art archeologists’ journey through history to connect mark making with language.

It’s my quest to create displays that encourage visitor interaction. The main question: How do I display the children’s artwork while creating an environment that takes them back in time? The answer came in a heavy roll of brown kraft paper.

Assisted by volunteer Penny Niesen, we first crumpled the simple media, then stapled it to the gallery catwalk to cascade over huge canvasses on the main floor. These canvasses were hinged together to create the framework for the outer cave wall. After more crumpling and hanging of paper to form the inside walls – and some lighting adjustments for mood -- the cave was ready for the artwork.

Primitive paintings of chalk, charcoal, paint and sand now cover our cave walls from floor to ceiling. If you can’t travel to see the prehistoric cave art in Indonesia, you’ll be amazed at what our We Love Art kids (and a little brown paper) can do.

As part of our organization’s outreach programming, each year PenArt invites over 300 school children to create projects that pertain to an art education theme. The resulting exhibition, under the title of We LOVE Art, grows as projects are completed, filling the Guenzel Gallery with work that supports regular school curriculum while instilling pride.

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