Family Day: Discovering Design

Eyeglasses play a role in the Clark Kent-to-Superman transformation—the glasses get ditched, the cape appears, and heroics ensue. In a reversal of the regular person-to-superhero transformation, during a recent art making workshop at The Wolfsonian attended by more than fifty people, kids created elaborate glasses designed to express their inner, everyday heroes. The workshop, led by New Mexico–based visual artist Paula Wilson, was part of the museum’s free family day on May 3, Discovering Design: See Your Spark.

The drop-in family day, designed for children under twelve accompanied by an adult, kicked off with a screening of the film The Painting. A tour followed of the exhibition Art and Design in the Modern Age. The tour was titled Everyday Heroes; for anyone who missed the event, the museum has produced a free family gallery guide of the same title for self-guided tours.

“The tour about everyday heroes is based on a major theme in our collection. We have a lot of works that celebrate everyday people and the power they have to change and shape the world,” explained Jessica Kennedy, The Wolfsonian’s assistant director for education and public programs.

Kennedy led the tour, which began with a discussion of superheroes and moved on to everyday heroes. The tour focused on works in the galleries that depict people—the painting Menneske Pyramide [Human Pyramid], by Harald Engman, with its many figures, elicited a great deal of response as the children called out what they were seeing. Comments included: “I see a shark,” “There’s skeleton at the bottom,” “There’s an angel at the top,” and “I see an angry mob of warriors.”

Following the tour, Discovering Design continued in the museum’s lobby, which was transformed into an art-making center. The young artists each designed a unique pair of glasses with a little help from pipe cleaners, duct tape, colored gel paper for lenses, and paper and markers.

Many of the children drew scenes that they then taped to the top rim of their glasses. “It’s a picture of sharks eating fish. It’s because I love sharks,” said Rodne, age seven. Amanda, also seven, created a pair of butterfly-themed glasses to match the butterfly on her dress. Linus, five, designed glasses that doubled as a ninja mask. “A ninja is a person who saves people from bad guys,” he explained. Ryan, eight, finished his glasses, decorated with sparkling green paper, and moved on to a friendship bracelet made from pipe cleaners.

Wilson explained that while her concept of creating glasses had as its starting point the reverse-superhero notion, the glasses also referenced ideas about sight. “It’s about how we see people—our visions for ourselves and for the future,” she said.   

Discovering Design is an ongoing series of free family days, each of which includes a range of happenings centered around a featured guest artist or designer who leads hands-on activities. The series is made possible by a challenge grant from Batchelor Foundation, with matching support provided by Wells Fargo, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Carnival Foundation, and The Garner Foundation. For information, contact

  • Future Discovering Design family days at The Wolfsonian take place on June 7, August 2, September 5, and November 1.
Captions (click below to enlarge):
The finished product: Discovering Design participants and model their creations.


The Wolfsonian’s Jessica Kennedy leading a discussion during the tour Everyday Heroes.

Workshop leader Paula Wilson with young artists. 

Workshop leader Paula Wilson demonstrates a glasses-making technique.



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Family Day: Discovering Design
Family Day: Discovering Design
Family Day: Discovering Design