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STMA hosts Animal Kingdom exhibit and workshop

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    Resting Deer
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    Bunny and her pups
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    Goose and Goslings
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    Young or old, the act of creation can be enjoyed by anyone: (from left) Ryan Pagett, Ledger White, Steven White and Shelly White all use available materials to create their own works of art. T. MICHAEL STONE/STAFF

Electric eels, soaring birds, maybe even a dinosaur or two.

Participants in the Steffen Thomas Museum of Art Animal Kingdom Family Workshop had the chance to create their own works of animal art, or even a flux capacitor if one was so inclined, Aug. 21 at the museum.

The workshop was led by Ryan Pagett, a middle school art educator at a local middle school. Participants explored some of Steffen’s artistic techniques with animal watercolor projects and sculpture creations.

“My goal for the workshop is for everyone to see and be inspired by the work of Steffen Thomas,” Pagett said, according to the STMA website. “Through his art, I hope they’ll find a drive to create their own artwork beyond this workshop and into the future.”

Pagett earned his Bachelor of Science in Art Education at Columbus State University and is currently working on his Masters in Art History at Lindenwood University. He is also a practicing artist who works mainly in painting.

The Museum continues to exhibit works by Steffen Thomas featuring animals in the west gallery until Sept. 4. Visitors will also find original animal paintings by Alice Lee Andreottola and Katie Wibell available for sale in the museum’s gift shop.

Among the paintings and sculptures in the gallery are a few devoted to a lion cub Thomas rescued from the Atlanta Zoo in 1961. At that time, the zoo did not have the resources to raise the baby lion, so Thomas decided to take him as part of the Thomas family.

According to materials accompanying the exhibit, the family named the lion Dick.

“Little Dick soon outgrew the bottle and needed to be fed raw meat and lots of it,” writes Lisa Thomas-Conner. “As he grew, he became somewhat protective of the family and was known to startle more than one delivery man, causing one visitor to escape onto the top of our large mosaic dining table. That table can be seen in the Thomas Family Room at the STMA. When it was time for me to come home from college on a holiday break, my father called ahead and told me my room had been given to the lion. When I arrived home, I was greeted by Dick, who had the most beautiful golden eyes in what seemed to me like a very large head and oversized paws. I was asked to share not only my room but my bed with the cub. Like my cats, Dick enjoyed curling up on top of me when he slept, getting his face as close to mine as possible. Since he was quite large and wanted to dominate the space, I tried to stay very still while sleeping.”

Steffen Thomas said the lion was named after English King Richard the Lionhearted.

“Dick is a pretty remarkable lion,” Thomas told Katherine Barnwell in an article posted on the museum’s website. “He likes to watch television and won’t eat anything unless I give it to him myself.”

Thomas’ love for animals is on display at the STMA and can be enjoyed Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. For more information call the museum at 706-342-7557.