by Liz Allen
Everyone knows that touching art in museums is the number-one no-no. Last Friday night shattered that rule as Figment took over the Mississippi Museum of Art’s main hall, in one installment of the museum’s “After Hours” pop-up series, which highlights local contemporary artists or a current exhibit for one night each month.
Two museum employees, eyeing the crowd around the Big Bad Bucky Ball—a 7-foot geometric sphere of bent metal rods covered in paper—jokingly asked each other, “Can we touch it?”
“We’re not used to this,” the other employee said. Children and adults wrote on the ball, bounced it, and crawled inside, exuding excitement over unfettered play.
“It’s just so cool to be able to interact and touch these projects in the museum space,” Liz Boussard, a guest at the event, said conspiratorially before directing me toward the notebook tree. (A tree with different notebooks and pens hanging from it, inviting you to leave your mark.) Aside from the notebook tree and the Big Bad Ball, MMA visitors could cut an animal silhouette for a Japanese puppet show; or spin a spinner to either sing a song, give an award, or strike a pose with Batman and T-Rex cutouts. Other guests painted clay ceramics with Wendy Eddleman, stuck colorful vinyl stickers on a wooden octopus scene, or mingled.
Engaging the art gets at the heart of the international art project the organization describes as an “interactive art explosion and participatory art festival,” Each event is unique, organized by the community, meant to showcase local artists as well as build community through audience interactions. This is Figment’s fourth year in Jackson. “Art is not just something that you stand still and quietly look at,” the website states. “It is something you participate in. You touch it, smell it, write on it, dance with it, play with it, and learn from it.”
But mostly, the emphasis is on having fun with the community, event organizer Garrad Lee explained to me from his spot at the turntable next to DJ Young Venom.
Figment will take place Saturday, Oct. 18 in the Midtown Arts District. Projects will take place inside and outside, throughout the block edged by Keener Avenue, Wightman Street, Welsey Avenue and Wilson Street.