November 10th, 2008
Courtney Henson, Gallery Assistant– It was wonderful to be able to ask a few basic questions and hear the responses of the students. In the end, they were mostly too shy to act out their “character studies” but they had the most amazing observations of the work. Is this painter painting himself in the future, affected by age? Why do they stare at us?
I peeked at a few drawings while the students worked and was also thrilled at their skill and ability to view the works in front of them and then use their creativity to change them into something all their own.
They guessed the artist’s birthplace simply through observations of his dress and facial hair. It seemed their experience at the Sheldon (priorly that day) was enriched by the continued topics of discussion at the Pulitzer. I can only imagine that they will retain the information better because of this experiential type of learning.
November 10th, 2008
Emily Hickner, Gallery Assistant–Students were instructed to first make observations about the works in the room. Most students focused on the medallion rather than the Rubens piece shown in a modern format on the opposite wall. Immediate observations were that the works were all drawings/sketches, that there were figures in most of the drawings, and references were made to the format the drawings were shown in. I explained the reasoning behind showing the drawings in a modern format verses an 18th century medallion.
Secondly, I discussed how most of the figures were iconic in a historic, mythical, or religious sense. Most of the drawings were sketches or cartoons created for large scale frescos which depicted a scene that these figures were a part of. Some students picked up on the gestural style used in many of the drawings in the medallion. In turn, I pointed how movement in certain drawings allowed the eye to flow from one drawing to another. Gesture and expression were significant when the students were considering their assignment. The assignment was for each student to pick out a drawing and decide what style of music and type of instruments would best portray that drawing.
I noticed students often created their own story for the drawings. For example, Fragonard’s drawing of a woman positioned against against a column entitled “The Young Girl Abandoned” was viewed by one student as a sad woman taking refuge in a place of comfort and solitude. The student described soft, melancholic music to accompany the drawing. Another student chose a somber cello composition for Beccafumi’s Head of a man Turned Three-Quarters Right. Several pupils were drawn to the expressive character in Caracci’s Studies of Grotesques, which was paired with rock music, new age music, and Asian style music. Others were interested in Cambassio’s Nymph and Putti Riding on a Dolphin, connecting it with an impassioned staccato on the violin.
Overall the students seemed enthusiastic about understanding the mood of a drawing. They recognized that music and visual art can be linked by evoking a particular emotion.
November 10th, 2008
Anna Poss, Gallery Assistant–For the Sorrento Springs visit, I was stationed at the landscape medallion. Students were instructed to examine the paintings for five minutes, then to take note of what they noticed and what they wondered. It was interesting to watch a younger audience interact with the paintings and to notice their reactions were on an emotional level, rather than a scholastic level. Often guests examine the paintings looking for meaning and historical significance, so it was refreshing to witness such pure, instantaneous reaction to the works.
After the students shared their observations, I gave a brief overview and answered questions. The students were curious to know about the paintings, especially about the locales they depicted and the artists’ inspiration. Their comments were surprisingly insightful and poignant. One student was able to identify two paintings by the same artist simply by observing similar styles and techniques.
The last part of the assignment required that students come up with a musical based upon a painting of their choosing. This was perhaps, for me, the most entertaining and thought-provoking part of the experience. The creativity that poured out of these young minds was incredible. One student wanted to create a musical based upon a tree in a particular painting. The tree would be wise and all-knowing, a grandmother figure for an entire village. Another young girl was inspired by another painting depicting a family outing to write a musical about a family who was so impoverished that they had to sell themselves into slavery.
The entire experience was delightful and the students went above and beyond any expectations that I had for the behavior and understanding of fifth-graders. These students inspired me to look at the paintings in a new light and motivated me to approach art in a more individualistic and emotional manner.
November 5th, 2008
Jason Holler, Gallery Assistant–It started as sheer terror. I have never been known as a “kid person,” and here they were, all 60 of them. Fifth-graders armed with teddy grahams and questions aplenty. Any apprehension I had soon became wonderment and even enjoyment. I was amazed at the precociousness of these children. My duty was to explain Joe and add any insight necessary. I found the students inquisitive. Everyone wanted to know: what’s inside?, what’s it made of?, and who is this Joe person? One girl asked (after I explained the “No Touching Joe” policy), “is it because of the oil on our hands, and how it messes up the rust?” I was impressed enough, and then she added, “because if the surface gets messed up then people won’t be able to see the way it was made originally.” I was floored.
The students were well-behaved and attentive. I loved hearing their insights, which were completely unaffected and uninfected by art history. Their comments were fresh and without fear of possibly being wrong. They seemed engaged with Joe and frantically wrote ideas in journals. Their little fingers and pencils moved in a frenzy across the page. All the while, concentrating heavily, with their tongues slightly sticking out. They had abstract ways of looking at everything. One girl said Joe’s form reminded her of a “giant chocolate shaving.” Ah yes, a Claus Oldenburg fan. The whole experience reminded me of the often used Picasso quote, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Well I defiantly saw some artists in the courtyard this morning and with any luck, they shall remain that way. Good day, children, and enjoy the teddy grahams.
November 5th, 2008
Kay Renner, Gallery Assistant–My station with the children was the Water Court, where we explored different ideas of the term “movement.” We observed movement in the visual sense, discussing how architecture, structure of a space, and objects can visually move you around the setting you are placed in. We then discussed the physical elements within the Water Court that were in action: the water, the leaves on the trees, and the fellow classmates. Someone also realized the the circular indentions within Ando’s concrete design creates a movement around the space.
After having a dialogue about movement, the students then got to apply it as an art form. Creating lines, drawings that expressed the feeling of movement they were surrounded in, they transformed these drawings into lyrical, dynamic poses with their bodies. By articulating movement in a drawing as well as a lyrical, physical form opens the possibilities of how to express the idea of movement in tems of art. By discussing it beforehand helps to understand and communicate through language different ideas of movement and then by having the project after helps young artists to create and form their own opinion of movement and how to express it in a unique
I think the visit from the school was very insightful and a great opportunity to explore the Pulitzer philosophy; it was excellent to utilize the space the Pulitzer has and to explore and personally experience the space for themselves. Having a dialogue and the option to form personal opinions is something unique and insightful for young visitors.