Meet the Maker: Jess Graff
Remember when you gathered in the vacant lot to play? Or scavenged the neighborhood for scraps of lumber, old tires, lengths of rope, cardboard boxes (refrigerator boxes were the best!) and sticks, stones, and other natural materials to build forts, houses, shelters and anything else you could imagine? You don't? Few people do.
Jess Graff wants to construct curiosity and creativity piece by piece, no matter what the pieces are. She enables making through play with Adventure Playgrounds built in the moment by kids using whatever materials are at hand. A mixed-media artist and educator, she is passionate about creating equitable, collaborative and creative environments for play that invite people of all ages and backgrounds to imagine together.
During spring in 2018, Graff joined the Amazeum team as a Maker in Residence to train the team in the art and science of facilitating Adventure Playgrounds and helped launch an adventure experience on the Playscape. Over the span of two weeks, children and families explored materials, discovered new uses for familiar materials, and constructed a constantly changing playground with their hands and imaginations. Free-form play ruled the day as kids created with cardboard, fabric, wooden posts, rope and basic tools largely without the help of grownups. (Although grownups couldn't resist getting in on the fun.)
Adventure Playground inspires creativity and curiosity through imaginative play, risk-taking and problem-solving. The process of visualizing, prototyping, iterating and ultimately succeeding or failing in building supports developing future skills in young learners. Designed to be "un-designed", constructed and deconstructed, and imagined and reimagined, Adventure Playgrounds invite kids of all ages and families to literally build a community of learners.