Monthly Mentor

Robin Schnur (January)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Robin Schnur is the Director of Youth and Family Programs at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she works with an amazing group of leaders and educators to design and produce programs, resources, learning spaces, and leadership opportunities for (and with) young people and multigenerational families. A deeply held belief in the value of art and of museums to contemporary life drives her teaching and the work she does to create spaces for people to author their own museum experiences.Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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December 01, 2008

Catching Light (Guenter)

The Impressionists based their approach to painting on being able to catch the light they saw. The ancient art of shadow puppetry is dependent on the use of light and shadow. The optical color mixing needed for a theatre stage is based on knowing how to mix different colors of light to set the mood, focus, and ambience for performances. Earlier this evening I was not thinking about any of these things, but I am now.
Earlier this evening as I was getting ready to head to campus to teach a night class, I was outside whistling for my cats and I glanced up at the sky. Being your basic naked-eye star gazer, I saw something that made me stand still and ponder a bit. There in the sky shining brightly was a triple conjunction and it was dazzling. (A conjunction is when two planets come very close to each other.)  Venus sat just two degrees (or the width two pinky fingers at arm's length) below and slightly left of Jupiter. Then to make this even more spectacular, the crescent moon was hanging there in the night sky just above and a little left of Venus. The crescent moon made it a triple conjunction. It was a jewel of a triangle twinkling very brightly for the world to see. The night was clear and crisp. It was a spectacular event to see and experience. I have since learned that this particular conjunction was rare because of the time of day, the closeness of the planets, and the moon's appearance.
The use of light is so fundamental for us in our daily lives, in our art education instruction and it is often simply assumed. Events like this always get me thinking about the big art in our world—the sky, the earth, the atmosphere and how we are so influenced by all of it whether realize it or not. Events like this can be connected to what we teach as art educators through skill and techniques, problem solving, historical and cultural contexts, and aesthetic valuing. Natural events like this offer us a lifetime of discovery.


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