Now You See It, Now You Don't! Masked Colors in Nature

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library - Central Library

Now You See It, Now You Don't! Masked Colors in Nature

A STEAM Team Program with the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Peacock in the WoodsScience and Art intersect in this week's STEAM Team on Sunday, July 20 at 2 p.m. here in the Children's Room (200) at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.  Experts from the Smithsonian American Art Museum are coming to the Library to talk to you about Abbott Handerson Thayer and his artwork.

Here are some Thayer's paintings that we will be discussing! Can you find an animal in the picture to the right? Thayer is credited by many to be the "Father of Camouflage", in the way he painted animals whose colors adapted to their natural surroundings so that they would be hidden, or camouflaged from predators.  We will learn about countershading, disruptive patterning, and other ways of camouflaging through art.

According to Richard Meryman from Smithsonian Magazine, "Thayer contended that even brilliantly plumaged birds like the peacock can blend into, and thus be camouflaged by, their habitats."  Thayer created the above painting, Peacock in the Woods, to illustrate this theory.  Thayer was often criticized for his theories on camouflage, even by Theodore Roosevelt himself, but that never stopped him from rallying for its use as a military strategy during World War I.  He thought that a wartime boat could be camouflaged in water the same way an animal camouflages itself in nature, another theory we will be discussing during STEAM Team.

After our discussion about Abbott Handerson Thayer and his artwork, participants of STEAM Team will get the chance to create their own piece of art of a camouflaged animal, using collage materials such as magazines, patterned paper, glue, feathers, and more!  If you are interested in learning more about camouflaged animals, we will also have books on display such as Animal Hide and Seek by Penny Smith, Where in the Wild? by David M. Schwartz, and Stripes of all Types by Susan Stockdale, among many others! We even have take-home coloring sheets of animals hidden in nature.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum/ National Portrait Gallery is just across the street from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, at 8th and F Streets NW.  When you've completed our STEAM Team program, you can walk right across the street and see some of Thayer's actual paintings we discussed in the Smithsonian American Art Museum!  Most of Thayer's works are in the Luce Center, on the 3rd floor of the Museum in Room 8B.  Be sure to ask a Museum Docent for assistance if you need help finding anything!

This STEAM Team program is intended for children ages 6-12, along with their parents and/or caregivers.  No registration is required, but please feel free to call us at (202) 727-5535 in the Children's Room if you have any questions.  We look forward to seeing you there!