Sarah Provost

Teaching Artist-in-Residence, Fall 2023

During her residency, puppetry and theater artist Sarah Provost brings narratives to life through collaborative visual storytelling inspired by Un/Natural Selections: Wildlife in Contemporary Art.

Provost will use the innately playful nature of puppetry to engage museum-goers of all ages in an exploration of the meaning of habitats—the environments where plants and animals live and grow. What is a “natural” or “unnatural” habitat? Who is being displaced from their habitats—animals or humans? What does coexistence look like?

Drawing on works in Un/Natural Selections, as well as Nybylwyck Hall Dollhouse, currently on view in It Takes 2: Unexpected Pairings, Provost will create a shadow theater version of the dollhouse surrounded by a forest landscape. The process will be part experiential and part performative, as visitors will be invited to create and install miniature habitats for each of the rooms, populating the dollhouse with creatures of all kinds and puppeteering its inhabitants. The project will have a different focus each month, so returning visitors can engage with different experiences and skills.

Provost has created and performed work nationally internationally for twenty years. Her work has received support from the New York State Council on the Arts, the Jim Henson Foundation, and Meet the Composer. She is also a McDowell Colony Fellow. Most recently, Provost’s artistic exploration has taken the form of collaged landscapes and animation. Her current project in development, Trees are Stubborn, is inspired by the climate crisis and features an unlikely hero—a charred stick—who learns to overcome its fear of fire and draw with its charred feet, ultimately saving the forest from destruction.

Support provided by Art Bridges.


Public Workshops

Over the course of four workshops led by Provost, create a full-size shadow theater version of Nybylwyck Hall Dollhouse surrounded by a forest landscape. Install mini habitats for each of the rooms, populate them with creatures of all kinds, and bring them to life through puppeteering. Each workshop features a new activity that builds upon the last.

Animal Shadow Puppets
Sunday, October 22, 1:30–3:30pm
Create shadow puppets of animals to populate the dollhouse. Draw your own or use a template to make creations great and small!

Shadow Masks
Saturday, November 25, 1:30–3:30pm
Create life-size shadow masks that populate the forest surrounding the dollhouse. Draw your own or use a template. Strike a pose and take a photo of your silhouette!

Soundscape Collage
Saturday, December 16, 1:30–3:30pm
Create a soundscape collage for the dollhouse that includes dialogue, sounds from the natural world, and/or unnatural/human-made sounds. Write your own or assemble the words, then have fun recording!

Puppets, Play, and Performance
Sunday, January 14, 1:30–3:30pm
Puppeteer, play, and perform to a recorded soundscape.


Family Workshops

Family workshops designed by Sarah Provost explore a variety of puppet styles and celebrate the interconnected habitats (coastal, estuary, wetlands, forest, and urban) that make up the Hudson Valley.

Toy Theaters
Saturdays & Sundays, October 14, 15, 21, & 22, 1–4pm
Saturdays & Sundays, January 6, 7, 13, & 14, 1–4pm
Create a toy theater out of a small cardboard box, design a habitat, and create animal characters. Ages 4+.

Bird Marionettes
Saturdays & Sundays in November, 1–4pm
PLUS Friday, November 24, 1–4pm
Create a fantastical turkey marionette constructed of paper, buttons, beads, cardboard tubes, and pipe cleaners. Ages 4+.

Winter Shadow Box
Saturdays & Sundays in December, 1–4pm
PLUS Tuesday–Friday, December 26–29, 1–4pm
Create a shadow box puppet theater with a winter forest landscape and shadow puppets, so bears and other animals have a place to hibernate. Ages 4+.