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Mo Willems: The Kennedy Center’s first Education Artist-in-Residence

Hello! My name is Mo Willems.
I wear a lot of hats. I am an author, I’m an illustrator, I am
an animator, I am a playwright. Well now, I’m gonna get a brand new, super cool hat!
I’m going to be the very first Kennedy Center Education Artist in Residence. The Kennedy Center
is the nation’s cultural arts center, the best of the best. The
most interesting, the coolest, the most eccentric people are coming to the
Center to make magical work, and I get to be one of them, that’s crazy!
They have always respected the work that I do with kids, and more importantly with
parents, to bring families together to understand that creativity is not
something that parents watch kids do, but it’s something that families and groups
do together. I’m hoping that this residency doesn’t just reside at the
Kennedy Center—I’m hoping that it resides all over the country. So what
does the Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence do? Well in my case,
he gets to have fun. For me, work is a type of organized play, and over my
career I’ve been able to work in different what I call “sandboxes.” There
are all these different ways that we get to touch creativity through the
characters that I’ve created, we already know the Pigeon, we know Knuffle Bunny,
so if we get to play with them in a new medium, that can be very exciting. For
years I’ve been hoping to find some way to turn my books into symphonic music. I
will have an opportunity to work with dance. I’m gonna be able to work with
jazz musicians, and kind of the main theme for this artist-in-residency: how
many sand boxes can we play in? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that
this program, the idea of me being the artist-in-residence, is
happening at the same time as the REACH is opening, because the REACH
is a really exciting idea and it’s doing a lot of the same things. We’ve got so much crazy cool
stuff planned, I hope you’re gonna get a chance to come and see and
experience some of this stuff, and I hope it’s gonna spark you, because the most
important part about being an artist-in residence is about allowing *you* to
figure out the artists that are in *your* residence.
I hope you’ll go home and play, and make!

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