Archive for the ‘Learning’ Category

The Art of Observation

 
WAM Curator of Education, Ann Grimaldi, leading "Art of Observation" gallery discussion

WAM Curator of Education, Ann Grimaldi, leading "Art of Observation" gallery discussion in the exhibition "On the Path to Abstraction: Highlights of the Permanent Collection".

Curator of Education Ann Grimaldi and volunteer docent Kate Barrett lead a discussion with UNCG Teacher Education majors in Kinesiology on the “Art of Observation.” Dr. Barrett, retired UNCG professor emerita in Kinesiology (formerly Exercise and Sport Science), and Grimaldi created the program three years ago to aid students in academic areas where observation is crucial such as in gymnasiums and playing fields.

Using works of art on view at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, students practice an awareness of their observation habits through processes like scanning, detail recognition, organization and analysis of visual data. Knowing “how to look” and “what to look for” is an essential step in understanding what we see and for physical education teacher education students, it can be critical in assessing students’ motor skill development. Over 160 UNCG students have participated in the program to date, which has been expanded to psychiatric nursing and dietetic nutrition areas.

(Photo above shot in the permanent collection exhibition On the Path to Abstraction: Highlights of the Permanent Collection)

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Dan Graham Gets a Temporary Design Face Lift

 
Christopher Thomas with Design I students

Christopher Thomas with Design I students, installing their project on the covered Dan Graham sculpture "Triangular Solid with Circular Inserts". Photo: Myra Scott

If you visited the Weatherspoon this Fall, you probably witnessed the tell-tale signs of roof repairs, scaffolding and noise. As excited as we were for our twenty-three year old building to get a new roof, we knew we would need to be extra vigilant about protecting works of art in the Sculpture Garden, especially Dan Graham’s Triangular Solid with Circular Inserts. Graham’s glass and mirror sculpture was purchased by the museum for its permanent collection in 2006 and is a favorite with school groups.

Dan Graham, "Triangular Solid with Circular Inserts", 1989

Dan Graham, "Triangular Solid with Circular Inserts", 1989, two-way mirror, clear glass and aluminum, 72 x 72 x 72 in. Museum purchase with funds from the Jefferson-Pilot Endowment, the Burlington Industries Endowment, the Weatherspoon Art Museum Acquisition Endowment, the Frances Stern Loewenstein Acquisition Endowment, the Louise D. and Herbert S. Falk Acquisition Endowment, the Lynn Richardson Prickett Acquisition Endowment, the Jane and Richard Levy Sculpture Fund, the Judy Proctor Acquisition Endowment, the Melanie H. and Robert C. Ketner Family Acquisition Endowment and the Weatherspoon Guild Acquisition Endowment, 2006.

Protecting the sculpture required the construction of a special on-site crate consisting of particle board and strengthened by 2x4s that were bolted directly into the courtyard surface. With roof repairs taking longer to complete than planned, WAM staff thought it would be a good opportunity to work with UNCG design students to dress up the temporary wooden cube and give visitors something to experience (rather than weathered particle board) when entering the Sculpture Garden. We approached UNCG faculty Christopher Thomas and Lee Walton about a design competition with participants from their Design 1 and Art 140 classes.

Christopher Thomas adds:

“Responding to a call for proposals from the Weatherspoon to ‘make use’ of the plywood box currently in place over the Dan Graham sculpture protecting it from construction debris, Design I students from my class and Lee Walton’s wrote in. (Cambrin Culp, Lydia Flores, Tiffany Hutchens, Shannon Keller, Lily Musai and CJ Toomer are from my class).

One of the student entries. Design proposed by Cambrin Culp, Courtney-Nachè Toomer, Lydia Flores.

Design proposed by students Cambrin Culp, Courtney-Nachè Toomer, Lydia Flores.

WAM Curator of Collections, Elaine Gustafson, provided us with information on the artist and his work so that students could better understand what his sculptures were about…the idea was to make images in response to the themes in Dan Graham’s work while exploring some basic Design I value and shape problems.  So, issues of fragmentation, social disconnect, reflection and environment were some of the departure points for the students’ designs.

Final installation was done using ink jet prints and wheat paste on a gorgeous Fall Friday followed by ham and bean soup in the museum courtyard!”

Students participants from Lee Walton’s Art 140 class:  Jenny Bennett, Miguel Cervera, Janelle DeRobertis, Chandler Field, Dray Fountain, and Logan Ritchey.

Visit the museum’s Event Photo page for more images.

Roof construction is finally winding down as work completes after Thanksgiving break. The final detail to complete is the re-installation of the speakers for the Bill Fontana sound work “Spiraling Sound Axis“—which is also a part of the museum’s Sculpture Garden experience.  Fontana’s work had to be de-installed during construction.  As soon as the Fontana speakers are re-installed our preparators will be able to remove the plywood protection from the Graham sculpture.  Visitors will once again be able to enjoy both the Graham sculpture and listen to the Fontana sound installation.

Kids playing inside the Dan Graham Sculpture at the Weatherspoon

Kids playing inside the Dan Graham Sculpture at the Weatherspoon

Thank you to the Design 1  and Art 140 students for all their work on this project.

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Self & Others: Literacy Through The Visual Image

 
Diana Greene with Newcomers students.

Diana Greene with Newcomers students.

Working with photographer/writer Diana Greene, students at the Doris Henderson Newcomers School in Greensboro, NC are discovering aspects of themselves and others through photography, writing experiences, and visual art from the Weatherspoon’s collection.

The Arts-in-Education collaboration between the Weatherspoon Art Museum (WAM) and the Newcomers school is supported by a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council with additional support from the Toler and Schandler-Lopp Foundations.

Self and Others: Literacy Through the Visual Image began in September with an introduction to photography for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students. On October 24th, students worked with Diana Greene and Weatherspoon staff and volunteers to photograph each other in selected settings, with props, in each student’s planned pose. These photographs will become the catalyst for the students’ stories about themselves.

Photography lesson with Diana Greene.

Photography lesson with Diana Greene.

During the second part of the residency students will write from pre-selected reproductions of WAM art works—like Elizabeth Catlett’s Sharecropper and Nina Berman’s Randall Clunen, from the Purple Hearts series. Through their emotional and narrative content, works of art like these can transcend the language barrier, inviting students to investigate the lives of others. In the Spring, the students will also visit the museum to view The Penetrating Gaze exhibition and participate in a writing activity with Diana Greene at the museum.

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Coney Island: 1930’s Fun on a Budget

 

Edward Laning, Coney Island Beach Scene, 1938, oil on canvas, 35 5/8 x 41 3/4 in. Gift of his family in honor of Mr. Benjamin Cone’s 80th birthday, 1980.

On October 28, 1929, the stock market began its historic sink. By the end of the next day, the market had lost over thirty billion dollars, catapulting the United States and much of the Western world into the Great Depression. The Great Depression affected every aspect of life, from having a house, food, or job to how people spent their free time. Most people no longer participated in the overwhelmingly extravagant parties which had become identified with the 1920s. They now explored more affordable ways of entertainment, from parlor and board games to spectator sports and listening to radio broadcasts.

For many New Yorkers during this time, the best way to relax in the summertime was to go to the beach at Coney Island. The beach was free; just 5 cents for the subway ride was required. The amusements and atmosphere of Coney Island consequently became the subject of numerous artworks. Compare Laning’s painting with a painting by Louis Lozowick, Coney Island, from 1935:

Laning’s painting portrays the frivolity of Coney Island while still subtly showing the tense undertones evident during the Great Depression. Lozowick’s piece conveys a much more overt and ominous tone. His painting depicts the darkness and foreboding that permeated all aspects of life at the time, including leisure activities and amusement parks. In contrast, note the similarities between Edward Laning’s painting and this video of New Yorkers at leisure at Coney Island and in city parks.

Meet Me Down at Coney Island (1930)

Which work is most effective communicating the times in your opinion?

Edward Laning’s Coney Island Beach Scene can be seen at the Weatherspoon Art Museum as a part of their Telling Tales: Narratives from the 1930s exhibition in the Gregory D. Ivy Gallery until May 13, 2012.

Post written by Stephanie Krysiak, a second year History Master’s student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

 

Bellocq’s Storyville: New Orleans at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

 
E.J. Bellocq, "Girl Lying on Grass Chaise Lounge"

E.J. Bellocq, "Girl Lying on Grass Chaise Lounge", c. 1911-13, gelatin silver print, 8 x 9 7/8 in. Museum purchase with funds from the Benefactors Fund, 1973.

Although he was wealthy from a family inheritance and considered a part of the elite of New Orleans, E.J. Bellocq made his living mostly by taking photographic records of landmarks, ships and machinery for local companies.  He gained posthumous fame, however, for his personal photographs of the hidden underside of local life, notably the prostitutes of Storyville, New Orleans’ legalized red light district. Although it is possible that these images were made for commercial purposes—photographs of prostitutes were included in Blue Books, advertisements created by the city’s brothels—it seems more likely that Bellocq personally knew the women in his photographs, given their ease with the camera and their willingness to pose and sometimes even feign for it. Upon his death in 1949, Bellocq’s possessions, along with the disreputable photographs, were given to his brother, Leon, a Jesuit priest. When the photographs were discovered years later, many of the women’s faces had been scratched out. Initially it was speculated that Leon scratched the photos upon receiving them, but this is no longer believed since the damage was done in the emulsion rather than on the glass plate negatives.

The young E.J. Bellocq

Young E.J. Bellocq. photo courtesy of Tulane Special Collections.

The district of Storyville was created in 1897 when Alderman Sidney Story decided that the expansion of brothels in New Orleans needed to stop because they drove down building and family values. Knowing full well that banning prostitution would be ineffective, Story set out to regulate it. He created a thirty-five block area in which prostitution was legal, and banned it in the rest of the city. This area quickly became one of the most scandalous red-light districts in the United States, and much to the ire of Alderman Story, came to bear his name.

Storyville and Bellocq himself, have become infamous symbols of New Orleans at the turn of the century. Several movies, including the 1992 film, Storyville, and the 1978 film starring Brooke Shields and Susan Sarandon, Pretty Baby, focus on this particularly notorious and fascinating part of New Orleans’ history. This photograph by Bellocq will be on display until April 8, 2012 in the exhibition To What Purpose? Photography as Art and Documentary at Weatherspoon Art Museum.

Post written by Stephanie Krysiak, a second year History Master’s student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Thanks to Elaine Gustafson, Curator of Collections, Weatherspoon Art Museum.

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