When you find yourself and your students getting in a rut, one of the best things you can do to invigorate your own art making is to go see some really cool and amazing artwork in art galleries and museums. One of the assignments that I give to my AP Art students is to do a gallery visit and write about it. They are required to go to an art gallery four times a year, once per term. I love reading their papers and finding out how this experience changes and influences them. I remember one recent paper in particular. She wrote about how she realized that in order to create the loose, distorted style she has been striving for in her work, she needs to figure out how to make it look deliberate and not accidental. I have read many papers where students have made discoveries about themselves and the reasons they are creating because of looking at the art in galleries and speaking with professional artists about their work.
Yesterday, we spent the day riding a school bus from the little rural town where I teach to go to some of the best art galleries in Utah. There were three art teachers and one student teacher from my school who escorted 50 students to the Springville Museum of Art and the BYU Art Museum. Both shows were incredible. Currently at the Springville Museum of Art they have two exhibits – Curiouser & Curiouser: The Artwork of James Christensen, Cassandra Barney, Emily McPhie & Family and the 42nd Annual Utah All-State High School Art Show. I fell in love with the show by James Christensen and his two daughters. The entire show was meant to share with the public how the Christensen family has fostered creativity in their home. I especially loved the family tree wall with a portrait of each family member created by every member of the family. They drew names and then created a portrait of the name they drew. There were all levels of artwork, from very amateur works to very professional works because they didn’t leave anyone out. Even small children were expected to participate. I really want to do this in my own family. I was mesmerized by the artwork of James, Cassandra and Emily and it really made me excited to get back to my studio and work.
The High School Art Show was amazing as usual and is a great opportunity for students to see what they themselves are capable of. It also helps me as an art educator to think of new ideas and reminds me to keep pushing my students to do better.
At the BYU Art Museum, we had the once in a lifetime opportunity to see the original artwork of several European artists in the exhibit called “Sacred Gifts”. Wow, these paintings were spectacular! They were huge and just thinking about the amount of work it must have taken to get these paintings out of frames and transported to Utah was incredible. I loved seeing the paintings by Carl Bloch especially because I have grown up surrounded by prints of these pieces my entire life.
Every time I broaden my horizons by visiting an art gallery or art museum, it helps me to be a better teacher and artist. I totally recommend that you make an opportunity to share this experience with your students.