FORT BENNING, Ga. Aca,!" Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs a plant. It canAca,!a,,ct hurt you,Aca,!A? said artist Allyson Comstock. Aca,!A"Imagine you boiled a piece of cabbage and rinsed it.Aca,!A?

It was hands-on and all hands in during the free Aca,!A"Afternoon with the ArtistAca,!A? workshop at the Columbus Museum. Paper-making novices stuck their hands in a vat of water and gampi fiber Aca,!" squishy with a strong woody smell Aca,!" and flattened the fibers to make their own artistic creations.

The workshop was one of several activities designed to go along with Comstock\'s exhibit, on display through Sunday at the Columbus Museum.

What you can see
The Opelika, Ala., artist stretches the traditional definition of handmade paper. She creates three-dimensional sculptures by letting the paper warp as it dries naturally and paints designs on her two-dimensional works with a special mixture of dye and fibers.

The images she portrays are inspired by photographs from her travels across the country and internationally to places like Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands. Since her careful observance of the natural world forms the foundation of her art, her current exhibit is fittingly titled Close Observations. It's the fifth installment in the museum's Introductions - a series of exhibits from up-and-coming regional artists.

Also, currently on display are The Way We Lived: Residential Architecture and Life in the 19th Century and Let the Records Show: Discovering the Valley's Black Community in Slavery and Freedom. The former runs through June 13 and the latter through July 11. See everything from a dollhouse and architects' sketches to 1860s estate inventories and period letters.

What you can do
It's not all passive viewing at the Columbus Museum. Nearly every exhibit has related programs open to the public, many free of charge.

Catch a movie - like the documentary Lift Every Voice - and learn about the history of African-Americans in Columbus, from Reconstruction up to the civil rights movement.
Or, head outside the museum and tour 19th century homes in Columbus, Lumpkin, Ga., LaGrange, Ga., Eufaula, Ala., and Westville, Ga.

Other activities include artist-led discussions, live concerts, hands-on crafts and a luncheon series. Some of the programs are geared specifically toward seniors or families with children, but most are appropriate for audiences of all ages.

Who you can call
To find out more, call 706-748-2562, or visit

The museum is located at 1251 Wynnton Road and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Upcoming Events

New exhibit: Made In Columbus III
Sunday-Sept. 19

SLAM contest by high school students
6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday

Film feature: Lift Every Voice
6 p.m. April 1

Paper-making Spring Break Camp
1-4 p.m. April 6-9
Ages 5-9
$50 for museum members, $65 non-members

Tour and coffee break for seniors
2 p.m. April 8
Free with reservation

Lessons: Sketching from the Collection
6-7 p.m. April 15

Family Fun Day - "Victorian Day"
1-4 p.m. April 18
Performers, face painting, films, more
All ages