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New RMAC educator brings years of experience

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Jessica Parham, the new educator for the Roswell Museum and Art Center, shows one of the abstract figures that will be included in activity kits for families on Saturday during the museum’s free day for Roswell residents. (Juno Ogle Photo)

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A long-time art teacher and volunteer at the Roswell Museum and Art Center has brought her talents to the museum as it prepares to expand its hours and bring family activities to its Second Saturday events.

“Everything that I’ve done for the last 20 years is definitely going to feed into this job. I mean, it’s still education, just a different approach, a different audience,” Jessica Parham said.

Parham was most recently an art teacher at Roswell High School and has volunteered at the RMAC since 2013. She has also served on the RMAC Board of Trustees. She started the job June 4.

The museum had been closed for part of the pandemic but opened in September in the afternoons three days a week. Saturday, the museum will expand its hours to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.

The museum also began charging admission at the beginning of the year, but free admission days for Roswell residents are offered the second Saturday of each month. This month, the museum will begin offering activities for its Second Saturdays that will coordinate with exhibits at the museum.

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For this Saturday, Parham put together an activity in which families can create their own abstract sculptures, much like the artist William Goodman, whose work will go on display at the RMAC on Saturday.

“His stuff is really whimsical and fun and just colorful and just delightful to interact with,” Parham said.

Families can pick up a kit that includes an abstract form and paints and either take the kits home or work on their creation in the RMAC courtyard from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

As museum educator, Parham will arrange all educational programs for the RMAC, including classes for children and adults, school tours and working with the schools in the community.

She will also be organizing and updating the learning materials the museum has obtained over the years.

“Teachers would be able to borrow those and take them into the schools if they can’t come here on a field trip depending on budgets and that sort of thing,” she said.

She also plans to get more youth involved with the RMAC as volunteer docents or interns.

“I’d like to get a younger crowd over here to learn about the museum and how interesting it can be to work in one and get some of the behind-the-scenes knowledge of an institution like this because it’s cool, I think, to see the stuff,” she said.

She said it has been difficult to find college interns even as the pandemic starts to wane. Two positions are as of yet unfilled.

“People are very reticent to apply for things like that in case things shut down again,” she said.

It’s also been a challenge to prepare for family activities in the post-pandemic world, she said.

“Traditionally, we’d be sharing material and supplies and allowing people to be hands-on with each other in the classroom, sharing brushes or stuff like that,” she said.

“It’s been a challenge to get our heads around how to put a kit together so that the people that come this Saturday will be able to pick up a kit and they can stay and work on it, but they have all their own supplies within that kit that they don’t have to share with anybody, or they could take it home to work if that’s more comfortable for them,” she said.

“But I’m super happy to be in front of people’s faces and being able to interact with people. I’m excited for that again,” she said.

Second Saturday events are planned through August, so Parham will be planning for fall events through the summer. That will include resuming classes at the museum.

“We’ll be planning things for the fall and then next year. A lot of the job is going to be me planning things to go along with the exhibitions that we’ve got and little stations that would give it a little more depth, interaction or understanding to what’s presented,” she said.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.