Archive for the 'Education' Category

Summer Camp at the Gibbes!

According to the Arts Education Partnership which was created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Education, every young person in America deserves a complete and competitive education that includes the arts. As the country becomes more diverse, the world more interconnected, and the workplace more oriented around technology and creativity, arts education is key to ensuring students’ success in school, work and life.

summer camp masks

Creative and colorful masks!

That’s why art education is central to the mission of the Gibbes Museum of Art. The museum offers a wide variety of educational opportunities throughout the year, and when school is out for the summer, we host six weeks of camp. This is one of my favorite times of the year because the campers are so excited to learn, and watching them engage with the art reminds me of the value of arts education.

Each camp session includes artist demonstrations, hands-on, and take-home projects using many different mediums and materials. This summer the themes include All About Animals, Exploring Nature, and Art Through the Ages for ages 4-12. Local artist Kristen Solecki has taught summer camp sessions for two years and works to impart her expertise to budding artists.

summer camp masks

Creative campers posing with their masks!

“This week at camp was all about animals! We learned about animal structure and anatomy as well as how to sketch and create our own animals. We started off the week with relief printmaking. We learned about printing editions, types of ink, and the effects of various types of mark making. On Tuesday, we created large scale 16×20 inch animal paintings on watercolor paper using acrylic paints and charcoal. We learned about drawing with gesture and the detail that goes into large scale work. On Wednesday, we started a two day project: sculpting animals using air dry clay. We learned about the coil method and how to stabilize this medium using different tools. On Friday, we are learning about the sgrafico method. We painted wood birch panels and coated them using oil pastels. We used stylus to scratch away our drawings,” explains Solecki.

summer campers

Summer campers deep in concentration!

Campers visit the museum galleries at least once during the week to learn about artwork from both the permanent collection, and the special exhibitions John Westmark: Narratives and Beyond the Darkroom: Photography in the 21st Century. Parents are invited to an art show every Friday to view the camper’s collection of work from the week and are encouraged to visit the museum at their leisure. Camp will end August 8, and currently that is the only week remaining with a few openings!

Rebecca Sailor, Curator of Education

To register, please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events or call Rebecca Sailor at 843.722.2706 x41

The Art Tells the Story

Q & A with Rice & Ducks author Virginia Christian Beach

Virginia Beach with Jonathan Green

Virginia Beach with Jonathan Green whose painting Rice Morning Harvest is featured in Chapter 9 of Rice & Ducks.

Q: What was the inspiration for this book?

Many people don’t know that Lowcountry South Carolina is considered a leader in land conservation in the United States.  We have more land permanently protected in our coastal plain—1.2 million acres—than any other East Coast state.  We are also extremely rich in wetlands and forestlands, two vital habitats for innumerable species of flora and fauna.  The story of how we came to be a national model in land conservation is unique, largely due to the fact that it is predicated on the grand and tragic and complex history of the rice culture, and the convergence and interaction between northerners and southerners after the Civil War.  What evolved here in the Lowcountry, what we today enjoy from a cultural and environmental standpoint, is unlike anywhere else.  We felt this was an important and interesting story, worthy of a beautiful book.

Q. Rice & Ducks includes interviews with experts and scholars in the fields of rice cultivation and plantation history, African-American studies, wetland and waterfowl biology, and wildlife and habitat conservation. Tell us about your experience conducting and sifting through these interviews-the research sounds extensive!

The project took three full years, from inception to publication.  I traveled up and down the rice coast of South Carolina, from the Pee Dee River down to the Savannah, with a digital recorder in one hand, pen and paper in the other, and a pair of binoculars around my neck.  I sought out landowners who had been active in the land conservation movement in their respective river basins, most of whom had already permanently protected their property with conservation easements, and whose families had either been here for many generations, or had arrived with the “second northern invasion” in the 1910s, 20s and 30s.

I also interviewed slave descendants, hunting guides and land managers, as well as field biologists, foresters and ornithologists — the people living and working closest to the land. RICE & DUCKS is as much a land use history, as it is a land conservation history.  One of many highlights included multiple conversations with a landowner, now in his 90s, whose great uncle had been a founding member of one of the earliest northern hunting clubs in the Lowcountry—the Okeetee Club in Jasper County—and who had wonderful memories of hunting here in the 1920s as a boy.  Another highlight was walking the slave street at Friendfield Plantation in Georgetown County, where First Lady Michelle Obama’s great-great grandfather was born and raised.  And lastly, walking the old rice field dikes of the Ashepoo River at dusk and watching thousands of waterfowl settling in for the night.  These are just a few of the many memorable experiences of my field research.

Q. Now to the art and how “The Art Tells a Story.” Tell us how you chose the images to accompany these stories. How and why was the Gibbes’ permanent collection important to this book?

After completing my research and the manuscript, I was tasked with curating the images for RICE & DUCKS, with the help of a Curatorial Committee that included Angela Mack, Executive Director of the Gibbes, who was an invaluable guide as you might imagine. During that first year of researching the text, I also made detailed notes of artwork, maps, and visuals that I was encountering along the way, which I thought would complement and enhance the RICE & DUCKS story visually.  When it came time to convene the Curatorial Committee, I created a master list of all the images I had noted, organized by chapter, and called it “A Working List of Potential Visuals.”  It was over 20 pages long!

Thankfully, Angela and Steve Gavel (another member of our committee) came up with the idea of choosing a work of art for the beginning of each of the 9 chapters — giving it a full page of its own —  that was representative of the overall theme of each chapter and was of the corresponding time period. This helped bring into focus and reinforce the major themes of RICE &DUCKS.

The Reserve in Summer

The Reserve in Summer by Alice R. H. Smith

The images serve both a historical purpose and an artistic and thematic purpose.  The adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words” certainly holds true for the images in RICE & DUCKS.  In many instances, we simply did not have room to include sidebars and additional text on many important topics.  One good example of how a painting can convey so much more information than the written word is “The Old Plantation,” lent to us by Colonial Williamsburg.  With that one painting, we were able to convey much more about the history and uniqueness of the Gullah culture.  Similarly, Anna Heyward Taylor’s linoleum block print from the Gibbes collection, entitled “Sowing Rice,” powerfully illustrates the African roots of rice cultivation in the Lowcountry.  At the same time, Charles Fraser’s portrait miniature of Nathaniel Heyward, as well as Benjamin West’s portrait of Thomas Middleton — also from the Gibbes collection — beautifully express the aspirations and authority of the New World landed aristocracy.

Sowing Rice by Anna Heyward Taylor

Sowing Rice by Anna Heyward Taylor

Q. The proceeds from this book go toward protection of the northern breeding grounds and protection of migratory bird habitat in the Carolina Lowcountry. Can you tell us about this effort and why it is important?

You’ve heard the expression “the canary in the coal mine?”  Well, migratory birds — whether they be waterfowl (e.g.ducks and geese), wading birds (e.g. egrets and herons), shorebirds or warblers— are huge barometers of the health of our overall environment, since they rely on a multitude of habitats along their ancient, amazingly long flyways.  They are the great “connectors”—between continents, between nations, between habitats — breaking down political and cultural barriers as they embark on their transcontinental, cross-cultural journeys year after year after year.  For example, take the little sanderlings that you see on South Carolina beaches each spring and fall.  They nest in the high Arctic tundra and migrate through the Lowcountry every year, traveling thousands of miles on their annual migration between North and South America.  Many of these species absolutely depend on the healthy habitat of the South Carolina Lowcountry for their survival along the way.  And much of our wetlands are used by both waterfowl and wading birds and shorebirds.  Saving their habitat is good for them and good for us; nourishing humankind both physically and spiritually.

Virginia C. Beach, Author and Guest Blogger

The Art Tells the Story book signing and discussion with Virginia Christian Beach
Thursday, June 12, 12noon
$15 per person
You may pre-purchase books at the Museum Store
To purchase tickets please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events or call 843.722.2706 x21

Eye Spy Art!

Eye Spy Art

Eye Spy Art at North Charleston Arts Elementary

The Eye Spy program with the Gibbes Museum is one of the best experiences I’ve had so far as an art teacher. Rebecca Sailor, Curator of Education, contacted me about this great opportunity for my students. As a Charlestonian, I know the Gibbes Museum has a lot to offer for the community, and my students at North Charleston Creative Arts Elementary (NCCAE).
As a first year Art Teacher, I also took advantage of this program to gain insights on how to implement other core curriculum into my lessons such as Language Arts and Social Studies. The most exciting part was collaborating with the museum educator and taking my students to the Gibbes Museum for a field trip.

As an Art Educator, part of the mission that I stand by is to engage students in an art centered curriculum, which helps develop confidence in student’s work. I meet with museum educator Ellise Detterbeck to create an interactive lesson plan that is tied to the S.C. Learning Standards to meet my student’s goals for the school year. The Eye Spy program at the Gibbes Museum is great for the students for a variety of reasons. Ms. Elise is a wonderful museum educator who visits my third grade students and Hearing Impaired students once a month at North Charleston Creative Arts Elementary. My students enjoy talking about art and want to know more. Ms. Elise encourages my students to express their opinions, feelings, and to make presumption as they participate in these exercises.
Elise agrees and says,

“The Hearing Impaired students were such a surprise. They are all quite engaging, and so eager to explore art. They are strong and silent! They notice things regular students don’t, and respond to any art, but especially to abstract art. I wear a microphone for 2 of the students who use hearing aids. There is an interpreter who signs what I say. It’s amusing to talk and to have the students looking at her, instead of me. They all sign and speak their responses. I was told by the interpreter and Janell not to change my presentations for them in any way, including the songs. They can FEEL the beat in music, and make an effort to keep time to it.
I love new experiences, and this one was very special. For these students, self-expression is key to their development, and responding to art helps them express their feelings. The crazier the art may seem, the more they like it. It’s so rewarding to see them wave their hands around and bounce up and down to a new piece of art. Next year, Janell and I intend to customize what we do for them, so we can maximize the impact of Eye-Spy! with them.”

The field trip to the museum gave students a chance to learn more about the wonderful artwork. Students who had never been to an art museum were excited and surprised by the size of the paintings that we discussed in class. It was a joy to see them raising their hands and wanting to know more about the artwork.

Designs, Wrightsville Beach, by Minnie Evans

Designs, Wrightsville Beach, by Minnie Evans, a favorite work of Elise’s to teach for organic shapes, color and composition)

“Our big idea for this program is that after a year in Eye-Spy!, a student will be able to look at a piece of art, tell us what he/she sees, and explain why he likes it or doesn’t like it, and provide support other than “it’s pretty” or “it’s ugly.” The visits to the museum is HUGE! Students get continuity and reinforcement. All the Museum Educators have said that kids coming from the Eye-Spy! program have so much to say about the art at the Gibbes. Each Eye-Spy! Museum Educator does it differently, but we all seem to get similar results,” adds Elise.

I’m grateful to have the Eye Spy program to help elementary students look at and talk about art. This program has given students a better understanding of the elements of art, such as: line, shapes, color, texture, and pattern. Through this program, I am able to learn with the students about utilizing many disciplines from language arts to music. My favorite song that we learned was about the artist Romare Bearden. What a great way to focus on the common core!
The biggest rewards of the Eye Spy program have been watching my students enjoy learning about art history and exploring the Gibbes Museum. I am looking forward for the next school year, and my students are looking forward to their next visit to the Gibbes Museum.

Janell Walker, Art Teacher, North Charleston Creative Arts Elementary
and Guest Blogger

The Beauty of the Gibbes vs. Google

From bacon art to intricate batiks, the varied collection of art at the Gibbes Museum is truly a Charleston treasure. On April 17, seventh grade students at Ashley Hall got an exceptional chance to train at the Gibbes to become Junior Docents for a day. We explored the exhibition known as The Charleston Story, selected from over 10,000 artworks in the Gibbes collection, of which only 2% are actually on display at any given time. These cultural masterpieces provide a thought-provoking insight into Charleston’s rich history.

Sarah Remembered by Leo Twiggs

Sarah Remembered by Leo Twiggs

The most interesting part to me is the fact that every single art piece has a story behind it. As Junior Docents, we had the opportunity to learn about various artworks from museum docents, and to choose artworks we thought were the most interesting. I found Sarah Remembered, by Leo Twiggs to be particularly eye-catching. This is a batik that Twiggs created in memory of his great-grandmother Sarah. Batik is the art of using black ink on silk and pouring wax on the places you don’t want the ink. Twiggs’ great-grandma, Sarah was born into slavery and released at the age of seven. Unfortunately, Twiggs never had the chance to meet her, but he recalls always being interested in her life and in his own background in slavery. Because of this, he decided to capture the essence of Sarah in a batik. I love this art work because of all of the symbolism and personal meaning within it. It showcases a huge part of Charleston’s history, the struggle to eliminate slavery.

As a class, we saw many other riveting works and listened intently to the presentation styles of the museum docents. We learned a lot about different art mediums and various artists’ motivation, as well as how to engage, educate, and entertain a crowd. On April 24, we presented our artwork of choice to a group of parents, teachers, and first grade Ashley Hall students. We encouraged the younger children to use their senses to detect art mediums and understand what colors popped out, as well as the different painting techniques of the artists. Everyone involved marveled at the one-of-a-kind artworks housed at the Gibbes Museum.

Ashley Hall Junior Docent presentations

Ashley Hall Junior Docents presenting to their classmates

In this day in age, it’s easy to skip the trip to the museum and simply look at pictures of art on the internet, but nothing compares to viewing them in real life. Art on Google is purely one-dimensional, and you can’t examine the texture and minimal details of the work that you can in person. Plus, if I’m being honest, wandering around an art museum looking at all the different collections is much more fun than sifting through Google images. So next time you’re looking for a cultural Charlestonian experience, try the Gibbes instead of Google!

Ashley Hall blog2

Katherine Mundy, Ashley Hall Junior Docent and Guest Blogger (pictured at the far left)

Black and White Film: Photography of the Future

Douglas Carr Cunningham

Photographer and teacher, Douglas Carr Cunningham

Like most artists, Douglas Carr Cunningham has held a variety of jobs including photojournalist, camera salesman, and adjunct professor. As a former U. S. Navy photojournalist, Cunningham has an extensive archive of images, “enough to last me a lifetime,” he laughs.

In 1999 Cunningham was one of the first local photographers to embrace the then-new digital photo technology, but he believes black and white film photography stands the test of time as an archival photo medium and even calls it “the photography of the future.”

Cunningham’s teaching career began years ago when local photographer Jack Alterman invited him to teach at the Center for Photography. Today, he enjoys watching the lightbulb go off in his students eyes. In preparation for the upcoming workshop Old Time Photography on May 17 that will include a tour of the exhibition Beyond the Darkroom, Photography in the 21st Century and a demonstration at Redux Studios, I spoke with Cunningham about his work. Here are some highlights from our conversation.

“Photography is always evolving and digital has blurred the lines between the general public and professionals,” he explained. “The problem with digital is storing information. Digital is virtual and technology is always changing so the question is, will you have to re-save your archives to a new medium every few years?”

Captain Percival Drayton

From 1855, this image is an example of one of the earliest photographs from our permanent collection, Captain Percival Drayton, by Jeremiah Gurney

Photography was introduced in 1839, when Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre shared the first successful photographic process, dubbed the daguerreotype. A daguerreotype is a direct-positive process, meaning there is no intervening negative used to print the image. To create a daguerreotype a plate of copper is coated in silver, polished, sensitized with iodine vapors, and exposed in a camera. The image is then developed in mercury fumes and stabilized (or fixed) with a salt water solution. The plate is then put under glass and housed in a case.

Photography has continued to evolve and according to Cunningham, the invention of digital has resulted in a loss of ‘pre-visualization,’ a technique used by film photographers for ages. “Today I still shoot film right along with my digital precisely to enlighten my students and because if it’s done correctly, it’ll still be around for years to come.” Cunningham explains that a really good photographer will learn to use both because a photographer needs to have the foundation and the tradition to go forward.

“With pre-visualization you imagine what the shoot is going to look like and then you use technology to make it happen. It’s about the creative process of thinking it through.”

Cunningham’s favorite exercise is to ask his students to pretend their camera shoots only 24 images. “Look at the subject through the viewfinder and don’t look at your screen until you get home. Photographers call the act of looking at your LCD screen the second after you take a shot ‘Chimping’ or as Cunningham says: ‘monkey do, monkey see.’ Not the other way around. We take the photo, then we must look at the result. This is something we all do, and the downside of this habit is that it can interrupt your creative process and ‘chimping’ doesn’t allow for pre-visualization. This exercise breaks students of the chimping habit and Cunningham says they enjoy contemplative time in the darkroom and are inspired by this ‘old fashioned’ creative process. He insists that contrary to what we might assume, “Black and white film is the photography of the future because it’s permanent.”

Untitled from the Passage on the Underground Railroad

Untitled from the Passage on the Underground Railroad by Stephen Marc

On Saturday, May 17th, Cunningham will lead a private tour of Beyond the Darkroom: Photography in the 21st Century, a collection of images from the Gibbes’ permanent collection. This exhibition examines the evolution of photography through a variety of works acquired over the past ten years for the museum’s permanent collection. Ranging from the text and photo-based works of Carrie Mae Weems to the digital montages of Stephen Marc, this exhibition showcases the great innovation in photography today.

Amy Mercer, Gibbes Museum Marketing and Communications Manager

Join Cunningham for a tour of Beyond the Darkroom, and a demonstration of the time honored art of black and white film at Redux Contemporary Art Center.

$40 for Museum, CCforP, and Redux Members, $45 Non-Members (box lunch included, transportation not included).

To purchase tickets please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events or call 843.722.2706 x21

THE ART AND SCIENCE OF LIVING AT HOME: Turning Your House into a Work of Art

Photo of the Deans

Suzanne Pollak and Lee Manigault, aka The Domestic Deans!

Suzanne Pollak and Lee Manigault are bossy in the best sense of the word. After bonding at a cocktail party at Darla Moore’s house 4 years ago, they dubbed themselves the ‘Domestic Deans.’

“Why? Because we hold the only two PhD’s in ‘Food and It’s Many Uses’ and ‘Managing a Household’ ever awarded. We each spent decades of time, logged thousands of miles spanning all the continents, and raised six children between us to become the two most knowledgeable authorities in our respective fields,” write Pollak and Manigault in the intro to their book The Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits.

The book was released on April 15, 2014 and the Deans are gearing up for a busy spring and summer touring the southeast to promote their book. As part of our Art With a Twist series, the Gibbes is pleased to host the Deans on Monday, May 12 at noon for a lunchtime lecture and book signing. The Deans will speak to guests about using a museum to develop your eye. “We’ll walk you through the rooms of your home and teach you how to develop your taste over a lifetime,” says Suzanne. The book is laced with witty humor, practical tips, and charming illustrations that celebrate the time honored art of entertaining.

“We are two experts who are not afraid to tell you what to do. We have been living in, and proudly running, our houses for 25 years. People ask our advice all the time because they can see that we enjoy living in our houses and we make it look easy. This is because we have given so much thought and energy into how we do our jobs around the house. We celebrate everything. One of us gave an Emancipation Proclamation dinner dance on a moonlit barrier island when she got divorced, while the other hosted a Go Green dinner when her son mowed the lawn without being asked,” write Pollak and Manigault.

Suzanne was kind enough to stop by and talk with me about the book and her upcoming lecture at the Gibbes. As someone who did not grow up in the south and missed out on etiquette training, I was nervous about our meeting. With a house full of loud, messy boys, I wasn’t sure that their world of entertaining would apply to me. However, I was pleasantly surprised with Suzanne’s warm demeanor and drawn to her energy and passion. All jokes aside, Suzanne spoke about the importance of bringing the community back into our homes. She explained that our busy lives have taken us away from the home as a gathering place for family, friends, and neighbors. The Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits teaches readers that entertaining at home doesn’t have to be a big production and is filled with practical tips such as:

  • How to involve all available hands to make light work.
  • How to impress with a meal in mere minutes.
  • The Deans even suggest readers make-do with crates and cushions, should they not have enough chairs for a dinner party.

These women will share their joie de vivre as well as their knowledge and varied life experiences with guests. Join us for an entertaining and informative event on May 12th!

Amy Mercer, Marketing and Communications Manager, Gibbes Museum of Art

Charleston Academy of DP

The Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits by Suzanne Pollak and Lee Manigault

Suzanne Pollak, author of Entertaining for Dummies and The Pat Conroy Cookbook is one of the USA’s foremost experts on entertaining, parties and food. She is a wife and the mother of four adult children. After living in Africa for her first 18 years and then answering her own family’s questions for the next 25, she became the spokesperson for a division of Federated Department Stores (covering seventy-seven stores spread out over ten states), giving forty seminars a year on subjects ranging from home decorating to entertaining, including cooking demonstrations and bridal fairs. She became the “face of the home store”.

Lee Manigault is an internationally educated cook, who can set a table with over 100 utensils and butcher a side of beef. She is also a mother of two school-age daughters. She married into one of Charleston’s most prominent families 20 years ago. She lives in a meticulously restored 18th-century house that has been in the family since it was built. Her house is one of the few private houses in town to boast a ballroom and in it she has hosted a huge array of activities from lectures and formal dinners to intimate family holidays. Manigault’s children are the first to have lived in the house since the Civil War, so she has spent a considerable amount of her time re-acquainting the house to young children.

Art With A Twist
Monday, May 12, Noon
THE ART AND SCIENCE OF LIVING AT HOME: Turning Your House into a Work of Art
With Suzanne Pollak and Lee Manigault

For more information or to purchase tickets please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events or call 843.722.2706 x21.

Photo of the Deans by Vicki Stone.

Reflections on Arts Education

Before starting my internship at the Gibbes Museum of Art, I didn’t have a true understanding of what arts education meant or how powerful it can be. I had read about arts education and heard how effective it is from countless Arts Management classes at the College of Charleston, but it never clicked until I experienced it firsthand this semester while interning in the Education department with Rebecca sailor, Curator of Education. Being able to interact with kids – whether it was handing out maps at the museum on Second Sunday, or doing crafts with them at an arts fair in Mount Pleasant – has given me a newfound appreciation for arts as a creative outlet for children. Even though I am an art history major, double minoring in arts management and studio art, concepts like seeking funding for arts education are relegated to paper topics and online quizzes for my classes and can feel far removed at times. Connecting with children through my internship has made these concepts come alive.

One of the programs that resonated with me is Art to Go. Through this program, teaching artists from the Gibbes are able to go to Title I schools in the Charleston County School District. This year those schools included Goodwin, Mitchell, Pinehurst, Murray LaSaine, and Angel Oak Elementary. Each year Art to Go culminates with the Charleston Marathon in January and the student’s artwork is on display at the marathon expo. I helped one of the teaching artists, Tara White, move one of the projects from Mitchell Elementary to the expo at Burke Middle High School, and saw the tangible results of this amazing program. The finished projects from each school were on display in the gymnasium, and I enjoyed hearing the teaching artists describe their experiences with the kids.

Goodwin Elementary School at Expo

Goodwin Elementary School’s art project on display at the Charleston Marathon Expo

Teaching Artist Tara White said,

“Art to Go provides an incredible experience, not just for the students participating, but also for the educator. As a teaching artist for two years at Goodwin Elementary, I’ve built relationships with approximately 300 students! The most memorable experience happened this year with two fifth grade girls who had not previously enjoyed art class and were getting into trouble at school. However, they chose to give up time on the playground to stay inside and paint with me, choosing art over negative situations. The girls’ willingness to try something out of their comfort zone continues to leave a lasting impression with me, and I’m so glad that Art to Go provided a positive intervention for them”.

Arts education doesn’t stop with children. Throughout my internship, I have been able to follow tours and hear lectures as part of the programming for adults from influential people like Peter Rathbone, who has worked at Sotheby’s New York since 1972 and orchestrated some of their highest American painting sales. I also sat in on studio art classes including pastel, and drawing the human form, that were filled with students from all walks of life. Whether it’s attending lectures by incredible people, or tackling a studio art class in an unfamiliar medium, it’s amazing to see adults continue their own arts education.

This internship has been one the most rewarding experiences that I have had in college and has helped me narrow down my passions and interests within the overwhelming art world (which is very helpful considering my graduation coming up in two short weeks!). Growing up, I was lucky enough to have taken art classes and attended arts camps that instilled in me a great passion for the arts! I am happy to say that I got to be a part of the Education department at the Gibbes, which is offering other children and adults in Charleston and surrounding areas similar opportunities.

Taylor Drury, Education intern

Education intern Taylor Drury posing in front of her favorite John Westmark painting “Exaltation.”

Taylor Drury, Outreach and Education intern, Gibbes Museum of Art

Pastel – Expressive and Brilliant

No Agenda by Tammy Papa

No Agenda by Tammy Papa, the painting that was accepted into the Appalachain National Pastel Society 2012 Show.

“What is Pastel?”

I am asked this question a lot.

People think of soft, light colors when they hear the word pastel.

I like to explain that the origin of the word pastel comes from the French word pastische, via the Italian word pastello, meaning paste.  As pastels are made, powdered pigment is combined with water and binder, which turns into a paste. The paste is then rolled out into sticks and dried. The softer the pastel, the more pigment it has and the less binder. Pastels are made from the same pigment used in other mediums such as oil, watercolor, and acrylic, but the pigment is held together with a light glue or binder called methylcellulose.

Many people confuse soft pastels with oil pastels. Instead of the light glue, oil pastels are made with beeswax, pigment, and other chemicals and have a waxy, crayon-like character.  Soft pastels and oil pastels are not the same and cannot be combined.

Whenever I do a pastel demonstration, I often get the question, “Is that chalk?”  I say, “Well, it may look like chalk, but it isn’t. Chalk is made of limestone and dye. Pastels are almost pure pigment.”

pastels

A colorful array of soft pastel (not chalk) in an artist’s tool box

This is one of the reasons people love pastels . . . the pure, brilliant colors. In fact, under the microscope a particle of pastel pigment has facets like a diamond. They have light-scattering properties and practically shimmer!

Another question people frequently ask is “Do you teach art lessons?” The answer is “Yes!” Teaching art started organically for me. As it turns out, I love to share information. I studied Studio Art at the University of South Carolina and worked as an Art Director for Rawle Murdy for years before dedicating myself to painting full time in 1996. During art shows and gallery openings, I found myself sharing more and more information with anyone and everyone that asked. My friends encouraged me to start an art class. So, I started doing demonstrations and workshops, and my classes grew. I have taught many classes locally and internationally including in Charleston, the Southeast, and in Spain.

Since art is my passion, I am gratified to share my knowledge and help people explore their authentic ‘art spirit’ and voice. I feel each person has their own artistic voice, just like everyone has their own handwriting. And each of us in the arts has an art spirit. I think teachers can squash a student’s art spirit pretty easily if they are overly critical too soon. It takes a lot of bravery to even go to an art class. I don’t want to teach people to paint like me. I want them to paint as themselves, their expression. One of my favorite books is the Art Spirit by Robert Henri—my approach comes from his amazing teachings. So many people say, “Oh, I can’t even draw a stick figure.” I always say, “You are probably more creative than you know. Anyone can learn to draw!” In short, I love to learn and I love to share what I have learned.

As an artist and a teacher, I continue to seek new information and inspiration. One of the most inspiring events for me was the Pastel Society of America’s 2013 National Show – Enduring Brilliance. From over 1,000 pastels entered, the judges chose 175. I was over the moon to be included in this competitive show. The show is held each year at the National Arts Club at Gramercy Park in New York City, and judged by master pastelists. It is a diverse and exciting show featuring a wide range of styles from highly representational to abstract.

Tammy Papa in New York

Tammy Papa at the National Arts Club in New York. The artist’s pastel painting, “Morning Mist on the Edisto” (above) was included in the Pastel Society of America’s 41st Annual Open Juried Exhibition in 2013.

My daughter, sister, and niece accompanied me to New York to see the show. We had a girls’ weekend, attending the reception and basking in the excitement. As I was entering the beautiful and sumptuous Grand Gallery of the National Arts Club, I could barely contain myself. The pieces were inspiring, diverse, and moving. Master pastelist Richard McKinley, PSA, gave a critique during the reception, which was a class in art appreciation itself. I oohed and aahed over the amazing works of art AND all the pastels supplies for sale—an artist can never have too many pastels! I returned to Charleston with renewed energy and perspective to share with my students.

I am very proud to be affiliated with and teach for the Gibbes Museum. Through the classes at the Hazel Parker Community Center, I am able to give back to the community and share my passion for art and the pastel medium. I have been fortunate to have amazing teachers. It is my hope to pass it on.

I am currently represented by Sandpiper Gallery on Sullivan’s Island and Edward Dare Gallery on Broad Street in downtown Charleston, SC. Please visit www.tammypapa.com to see additional examples of my work. And I hope you will sign up for a class at the Gibbes!

Tammy Papa, Artist, Teacher, and Guest Blogger

Make Your Own Wave: Japanese Woodblock Printmaking with Kate MacNeil

Distinction, by Kate MacNeil

Distinction, 2013, by Kate MacNeil

 

Woodblock printmaking is an ancient art that was used as early as the eighth century in Japan to reproduce written texts. As technology evolved, printmakers were able to work with a range of colors to create romantic landscapes and historical events. On January 17th, we opened The Great Wave: Japonisme in Charleston that features a variety of woodblock prints from the museum’s permanent collection. We always work to include interesting programs and events that relate to our exhibitions, and this weekend we are partnering with Redux Contemporary Art Center to host Make Your own Wave: Curator-led Tour and Woodblock Printmaking Demonstration. Sara Arnold, Gibbes Curator of Collections, will lead a private tour of the exhibition, and later guests will travel to Redux for a printmaking demonstration by local artist Kate MacNeil. Kate was gracious enough to take some time to speak with me about her work and creative process.
 

Kate MacNeil in her studio

Kate MacNeil in her studio.

Q. You studied printmaking at the College of Charleston. What drew you to that medium?

There’s a bit of a printmaking history in my family. My mother studied printmaking at the College of Charleston back in the day, and my aunt and uncle operate Abaca Press in Buffalo, NY. So it’s definitely something I grew up with. Beyond that, it’s an incredibly complex medium with a wide range of techniques available to interpret my imagery. I love the versatility that it offers and the dedication to process it requires.

Q. Tell me about your process.

For me, I start by building an image in my sketchbook, and from there I determine how I want to interpret it. Recently, I’ve been working a lot with intaglio, which gives me the opportunity to create some really detailed line work. It changes from image to image, though. The important thing for me is to constantly keep making images, whether drawing, printing or painting, good or bad, in the hopes of finding something real. It’s all research.

Q. Tell me about the current relevance of printmaking in today’s artistic community.

Printmaking is everywhere. Whether it’s a screen-printed poster, or a letterpress wedding invitation, or a lithographed nautical map. I think people are surprised when they realize how vast and prominent of a medium printmaking is. It’s an integral part of human history and I think it’s only natural that it continues to play a part in the art world. New techniques are constantly being invented and it gives artists a wide range to interpret their work.

 

The Ink Jar, by Kate MacNeil

The Ink Jar, 2013, by Kate MacNeil

 

Q. Are you inspired by the Japanese prints or have you studied them previously? In looking at the prints in the museum’s permanent collection, how (if at all) do they speak to your own work?

I have had a few opportunities to view of some of the Japanese woodblock prints in the Gibbes’ collection. They are simply breathtaking, especially when you realize how much work and expertise was put into each and every print. I was inspired to take a workshop this past summer on Japanese woodblock printing, and I’m eager to continue working within that medium (Though I doubt I will ever be considered a Master Carver/Printer!).

 

Bats and Moon, n. d. By Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849) Woodblock on paper Image courtesy of the Gibbes Museum of Art/ Carolina Art Association

Bats and Moon, n. d., by Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849)

 

Q. What will this workshop involve?

I think Make Your Own Wave will give people a great deal of insight on the Japanese woodblock prints. They play an interesting part in world history, starting in Japan and moving to Europe to inspire many Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists. For my part, I will be demonstrating how these prints would have been created, and giving participants a chance to make their own print. I really think people will walk away with a greater appreciation of the Japanese woodblock print and hopefully printmaking in general.

Thanks Kate for your time! We will continue to explore the Japanese culture with a cooking demonstration at Southern Season in Mt. Pleasant on February 15 at 5pm. For more information please visit our calendar at gibbesmuseum.org/events.

Amy Mercer, Marketing and Communications Manager, Gibbes Museum of Art

Arts Education: A Continuing Legacy at the Gibbes

Arts education has always been central to the mission of the Gibbes Museum of Art. In 1912, the Charleston Sketch Club was formed and aspired to be “the basis of an art school where the fine arts in all branches should be taught by the best of teachers in the Gibbes art building.” With exhibition space, lecture room, and art studios, the museum was a hub for local artists and art supporters. Archival photographs show artists poised in front of their easels in a museum classroom in 1910. Another photograph shows artist Minnie Mickell working in the Gibbes Art Gallery Studio in 1925. By 1965, in need of additional exhibition space, the museum purchased 76 Queen Street, now the popular Husk restaurant, for its school of art. Studio art classes included drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, and clay and were held in this location for many years. As a college graduate in 1993, I took a drawing class in the Queen Street studio. Little did I know that nearly 20 years later, I would be an employee at the museum—a dream come true! Arts education has always been a vital part of the museum no matter where the actual classes have been held, and this focus on art education continues today.

Minnie Michael at work

Minnie Michael painting in the Gibbes Art Gallery.

Recent research from a partnership between the University of Arkansas and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has validated this mission through a large-scale, random-assignment study of school tours to the museum. Researchers were able to determine that strong relationships exist between arts education and a range of desirable outcomes. In other words, art makes students smart!

In an ongoing partnership with Charleston County School District Title I schools, the Gibbes education outreach program, Art to Go, combines art making and instruction through firsthand experiences with works of art. The goal of the program is to increase understanding of visual expression, creativity, and art. Gibbes Teaching Artists work with public schools to enhance the schools’ art curriculum. Through this program, the museum’s notable collection is explored as part of the instruction along with a field trip to the museum. All lessons are designed to broaden students’ understanding of art principles, art history, and creative expression.

A mosaic created for the 2012 Charleston Marathon

A mosaic created for the 2012 Charleston Marathon by Mitchell Elementary School students.

Art to Go has been implemented in five local Title I schools including Angel Oak, Murray LaSaine, Mitchell, Pinehurst, and Goodwin Elementary. “Our Art to Go program has been a great success year after year. It’s a wonderful partnership and collaborative effort that enhances the visual arts curriculum,” says Gibbes Museum Curator of Education, Rebecca Sailor.

Art to Go program at Angel Oak Elementary.

Students at work in the Art to Go program at Angel Oak Elementary.

Local artist and Gibbes Museum teaching artist Kristen Solecki has been involved in the Art To Go program for two years. She appreciates the access to fine arts and art education that the program provides to her students. “However, perhaps even more importantly it gives them confidence and pride,” she adds. This year Kristen is teaching at Angel Oak Elementary on Johns Island, a Title 1 neighborhood school that serves approximately 350 students.

“One week we learned about printmaking. This is a very forgiving medium and allows students to create abstract pieces using simple line and form. Students were so excited to reveal their prints and to show each other what they made. They would encourage each other and tell one another, ‘great job!’ ‘Wow! Look at hers!’ Some students would even ask me to show their work to siblings who were coming into the next class after them. The best part is seeing the same students later in the day walking around with their work still in hand.”

Kristen explains that her students have also been working on a mosaic mural where each child’s hand painted work makes up a piece of the giant mosaic. “We have assembled it and each child’s work is crucial because without it our mural will be missing a piece. This mutual respect between peers, teachers, and students, is wonderful. Art class encourages students to experiment, express their ideas, and to create. There is not a stress on perfection, it is a medium to celebrate who you are. When I walk through the halls on the way to class, students stop me and ask if I will be coming to their class today, and that they cannot wait for art.  I don’t think you could ask for anything better.”

Art to Go at Angel Oak Elementary

Artwork from the 2013 Art to Go program at Angel Oak Elementary.

For several years the museum has collaborated with the Charleston Marathon, which benefits the Youth Endowment for the Arts, a local non-profit that supports fine arts programming in Charleston County Schools. Gibbes Teaching Artists work with schools to create structures designed for the race expo that signifies the marathon’s purpose: Going the Distance for the Arts. Dr. James Braunreuther, Charleston County Fine Arts Learning Specialist says,

“The Charleston Marathon and the Gibbes Art to Go programs were both designed to offer greater opportunities in the arts for the children of Charleston County. It is only logical that these two tremendous programs would work together to increase the impact of both. The Charleston Marathon raises funds to support arts programs while increasing awareness of the importance of health and movement. The Gibbes museum supports this effort by working with schools to produce art work that highlights the athlete in the artist and the artistry of the athlete.”

This year’s marathon takes place the weekend of January 17–18 and the student’s artwork will be exhibited at the Health and Fitness Expo on Friday, January 17, 2014, held in the gymnasium at Burke Middle High School, 244 President Street. Come out and see the beautiful and creative art work the students have created. Enjoy the rewards of an arts education and maybe you’ll decide to enroll in a class yourself! To see a full listing of our studio art classes visit gibbesmuseum.org/events.

Amy Mercer, marketing and communications manager, Gibbes Museum of Art

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