Ricky Katowicz is a dedicated maker of things– toys, fun, art, costumes, performance– no matter what he gets his hands on, there tends to be a lot of glitter and magic involved.
The DPPC has worked with Ricky for two summers as resident artist for one of our most beloved children’s programs, Art in the Park, a sister program to Kidoinfo Storytime. Each year the series dives into the world of an iconic children’s book author or illustrator – bringing books alive and helping children engage with books as artists and narrators of their own stories. In 2014 we entered “Maurice Sendak’s Wild World,” (Where the Wild Things Are) and in 2015 Ricky created “THE GREAT GREEN ROOM: World of Margaret Wise Brown” (author of Goodnight Moon to which the title alludes) with seven female guest artists. Ricky is currently developing ideas for summer 2016’s theme. His adaptability, creativity, and all around good nature make him a pleasure to work with. Here, Ricky explains his work with the DPPC as well as what makes up his creative life outside of work.
So, what do you do at the DPPC? I make Burnside Park into a living children’s book for 7 weeks in the summer… Also, I’m in charge of the craft projects with each one relating to the story of the week. For example, when we read Little Fur Family [by Margaret Wise brown], everyone made Fur Trees – literally gluing Fur to branches and making them into little fur covered tree houses for the fur family we made out of fur and clothespins… and googly eyes.
For Little Fur Family, Lindsay Metivier and I met over lunch, had some laughs, and wondered out loud for an hour about what project could be fun enough to relate to such an adorable book. The two elements that really stood out in the story were the fact that these nondescript fur creatures all more fur coats, so… fur on fur, and they lived in houses built into trees, which is always undeniably cute… Couple that with a pun about fir trees, and we decided to make FUR TREES. Literally fur-covered trees.
I got the idea to work with several female artists because Margaret Wise Brown was a woman and as a man, it felt wrong to approach her work alone. Also, working with my friends is much more fun and the results are way better.
What does your creative life consist of? I design play experiences for toys. A play experience is something intangible that requires laughter, inhibition, connectivity, and inclusion. There can be movement and thinking and there should be surprises and objects that keep everyone in the moment. Basically, that is what it is – a moment in time that cannot be taken away and often is the catalyst for curiosity and real learning. An example: There are costumes for everyone. The people participating are allowed to put them together in any way they see fit. There is a photo booth. The possibilities are endless.
I use home appliances to make musical performance. I have a sewing machine to draw pictures. I tend to keep scraps of cardboard because of it’s endless potential. I’m most open to the ideas that make me laugh and I rarely do anything if it is not fun.
I always have multiple projects that happen concurrently. This is driven by passion and interest in many subjects. I do make a rule that I can only have 5 projects at once, which may sound silly but I’ve had up to 10 and that can be too difficult to manage. After 5, I have to say no because I’m always searching for greater focus…
‘Don’t Play With Me’ [a visual art show] was born out of a co-worker’s interest in making dolls outside of our daily work at Hasbro. She expressed concern about doing something that may be too closely connected to the company and I assured her that her one-of-a-kind dolls had nothing to do with Hasbro. If there were any further concern, we would call the show ‘Don’t Play With Me’ so everyone knew we were not creating toys. We put together a group show of 14 artists in 2014 and are currently planning a follow up in March 2016. This one will be held at Aurora Providence and is a collaboration between toy designers and artists from RHD, a non-profit arts-based studio program that serves adults with a range of disabilities. Watch for it!
How does this relate to your work with the DPPC? Creative living is an endless act of experimentation. Creativity requires only that you look at something again. With Art in the Park, I get to share this in an active way with large groups of children and parents – hopefully expanding their curiosity in the process.
What’s the best lesson you learned from being creative that you can apply to work? It doesn’t need to be perfect because you get a chance to do it again, tomorrow.
What have you learned from your work that you can apply to your creative life? Think about the impact of the work first, and be meaningful with the details.
Ricky and Program Manager Jen Smith posing with Big Nazo
Did you know . . .
That this summer, the DPPC worked with over 30 artists, musicians, and performers?
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