This year the Upper School art museum trips explored interdisciplinary connections across the curriculum. Faculty members worked together to develop learning experiences that related the arts to history and literature, science, math, and world language. After docent-led tours with expert educators from the museums, students broke into small learning groups led by Stuart faculty members. The following sessions were offered, all of which embraced the idea that art enriched our understanding of the world.
Grade 9: Barnes Collection
The ninth grade had docent-led tours of the Barnes Foundation, the renowned art collection and institution dedicated to promoting art appreciation. Students enthusiastically engaged with docents in discussions of the unique ways that artists Monet, Cezanne, Picasso, and Modigliani (to name a few) used color, form, line, and texture in their art. As part of an English assignment, students ended their visit choosing a work of art that inspired them to write an ekphrastic poem--a poem that reflects on a work of art's content or meaning. Teachers Amanda Cutalo, Melissa Larson, and Dodie Hamblen look forward to sharing the students' poems with the foundation's education department.
Grades 10-11: Philadelphia Museum of Art
Phyllis Wright offered observational drawing in several sculptural galleries at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Her students enjoyed Himalayan art, Asian art, and sculptures from medieval Europe. It was very Zen!
The Philadelphia Museum of Art boasts the world's largest and most significant collection of art by Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), so Elizabeth Bergman and Anna Kachmarski examined his works with students, exploring questions about Dada and postmodernism as well as the "three body problem" in physics, the space-time continuum, and Euclid's optics.
Jan Baldwin and Amanda Cutalo toured the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Expressionist galleries to consider how movement (music, dance, theatre) can be represented on a two-dimensional canvas. The advent of film informed many visual artists such as Kandinsky and Picasso. The girls noticed how Seurat's pointillism may relate to the origins of television.
Mrs. Zhu's group worked on a "Geometric Design" activity for Islamic art, which provided the means for teaching about the history while learning about the variety of geometric patterns employed by artists to embellish a wide range of works of art. Through the activities, students learned the design principles and techniques by which the artists created these beautiful and intricate patterns. By creating patterns themselves, students also gained an understanding of geometric principles of the underlying grids and methods used by Islamic artists.
Nancy Solomon led a group of 12 juniors in a discussion about Mexican murals ( and murals in general) as a means of bringing art to the masses in any given community. We spoke of Diego Rivera and his attempt to tell the story of the common Mexican people as they dealt with revolution and the search for their cultural identity that had been stripped away by the Spanish Conquest.
Andrew Wilkinson led a group of ten including four Honors Photo students. They walked the museum, starting with the new portrait photography exhibition "Face To Face" to look at the work of Arnold Newman and study the composition. They moved onto the Armory to look at the design of the armour and reflections in glass (one of the few rooms with natural light). The group spent some time in the main hall, practicing 'street' photography by setting up and waiting for someone to walk into the frame. From there they visited the Tibetan Temple, Japanese Houses and some of the Religious Art collections. The room of Japanese screens was particularly interesting: when being restored, many old newspapers from the 1940s were found as backing and are now on display. Finally, they spent time in the Bruce Nauman room in the Contemporary Art section to see the installation of neon type art and clown torture video art.