Archive for the 'Education' Category

Dancing through Life as Art

At the upcoming Art of Healing series, Nia faculty member and teacher trainer Stephaney Abilon will be offering a 2 hour workshop that effects both the brain and the body. Stephaney explains that Nia (pronounced Nee-Uh) is based on 13 principles, the soul of which is the ‘Joy of Movement'; the thing that makes the body feel ALIVE!

Art of Healing Dance

Stephaney Robinson-Abilon, Nia training faculty member

In the Dancing Through Life as Art workshop, our primary focus will be 3 Parts:

1) Learning that when the body is doing everyday movements, such as walking, and opening doors, etc. we can learn to move our bodies in ways that feel easier, lighter and more free.

2) Discovering the mental benefits that occur when the body is in non-movement to create a living meditation.

3) Begin to perceive everything around us, even ordinary objects as art.

These three components utilize awareness as a key component, without awareness the body simply can’t know anything. This ‘life as art’ perspective creates a body that physically feels better, a brain that has more mental clarity and sense of calm, and provides for everyday inspiration. I like to describe this as living in a body, mind, and spirit that are filled with peach juice as opposed to battery acid! This lifestyle approach can be self-healing on many levels.

Nia dance class

An example of a Nia dance class, from nianow.com

Nia is more than just an exercise containing 13 principles, 52 moves, music and movement forms, it is a lifestyle practice that can change both your body and your life. This workshop will combine philosophy and movement; movement that is simple and available for everyone regardless of fitness level. Nia appeals to professional athletes and dancers as well as arthritics and people with back pain. Nia is available to all.

In this workshop, I will provide participants with tools that allow the body to feel better and more alive, and providing an inspiring way to view the world. Dancing is not separate from life, it exists in our everyday movements. Similarly, art not only exists inside a frame, it exists in everything that surrounds us and can be perceived as such. This will be an opportunity for participants to become inspired as well as embracing their body’s potential to move in such a way that every movement contains beauty, strength, and self-healing.

Stephaney Robinson-Abilon, Faculty Member of Nia Training and Faculty Member of the Sophia Institute

Art of Healing: Dancing Through Life as Art

Tuesday, October 7, 5:30-7:30pm

$35 Museum Members, $45 Non-Members

Location: Hazel Parker Community Center, 70 E. Bay St.

All classes require advanced registration. To register, please visit the website for a registration form or contact Rebecca Sailor at rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org or 843.722.2706 x41.


Miniature Painting by David Gillespie

There can be no doubt that our interest in miniature painting was most certainly influenced, and nurtured by studying, admiring, and conversing over the incredible collection of original miniature paintings housed at the Gibbes Museum of Art. South Carolina seems to have been particularly fond of miniature painting, as evidenced by many resident miniature painters, itinerant miniature painters, and patronage of its citizenry over the centuries.

David and Renee at Middleton Place

David & Renee demonstrated Miniature Painting in our Colonial Clothes at Middleton Place. Notice the Miniature of Renee around my neck!

For Renee and me, the interest we share in the fine arts, along with our interest in 18th century history has, for us, its perfect marriage in miniature painting. We decided to seek out an instructor of this discipline, and truly found a gem. Under the tutelage of Mrs. Joan Cornish Willies, a member of the Royal Miniature Society of England, we have been learning the European mode of miniature painting. Ms. Joan has been painting miniatures since around 1937 and has kindly taken us under her wing. She has brought an almost extinct art form back to life for us.

Nathaniel Russel, 1818, by Charles Fraser

A miniature of Nathaniel Russel, 1818, by Charles Fraser

We consider it an honor and blessing to have her as an instructor, a considerable resource, and now a dear friend. Ms. Joan has taught us how to mix our own paint from gemstone pigments such as Lapis Lazuli, and Jasper. Much in the spirit of Charleston’s own Charles Fraser, we take great satisfaction in mixing our own pigments when possible to not only get a more unique and valuable miniature made of precious materials, but also to use pigments which have shown they will stand the test of time. At present, I am painting a miniature portrait of Renee that is 2 and a half inches high and utilizes Lapis Lazuli blues, Jasper reds, and Amethyst for some purples, with 24 carat gold lettering that will be housed in a 24 carat gold oval frame meant to be worn.

I initially began painting in oils, but am now using watercolors, which is the medium used in many of the miniatures at the Gibbes. Using a series of nearly a half a million cross hatches, strokes, and dots per painting, the portrait begins to take life. Only small amounts of paint are used. The watercolor is built up slowly, all the while allowing the bright color from the ground or material painted on to show through. A letter from 1800 which describes the painting process in great detail, as well as a treatise written by Nicolas Hilliard during the reign of Elizabeth I, are source materials for using period techniques and getting into the process of these works of art that are also worn as jewelry. Having its roots in Medieval Illumination, Hans Holbein the Younger brought miniature painting to England, and was court painter to King Henry VIII. From the 1530’s to the present, it is fascinating to see how the the miniature has evolved and is still a much valued art.

Miniature Painting by David Gillespie

David’s toolbox

Renee is painting subject miniatures in oils while I am focusing mostly on portraits in watercolor. Our presentation at the Gibbes will show the watercolor technique using period appropriate materials, all from a teak wood box that can be neatly tucked under my arm and carried about from place to place, much like those of the 18th and 19th centuries. We will explain some of the tools, techniques, and pigments, and share with the audience our passion for what we consider one of the most fascinating forms of art not only from our past, but also relevant to the present.

Join David, Renee and Gibbes Curator of Collections, Sara Arnold to learn more about the art of miniatures with Tokens of Affection: Miniature Portraits from the Gibbes Collection.

Saturday, September 27, 10am-12noon

Location: The Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting Street,

$35 Gibbes and Charleston Museum Members, $40 Non-Members

To register, please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events or call 843.722.2706 x21.

Renee Gillespie, has a Bachelor Degree in Art from Washington College in Chestertown, MD, and also studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Renee is currently practicing the nearly lost art of miniature painting. Taking instruction from a member of England’s Royal Miniature Society, the oldest miniature society in the world, Renee has been learning the art and discipline in the European Mode. Renee also is gifted in Natural Dyeing, and Batiking. Her Indigo Dyed Cloth has been purchased by the Smithsonian Institution.

David Gillespie, is a full time stone carver, miniature painter, and a 10th generation South Carolinian. He also has authored the recent book, A Brief Treatise on Tomb and Grave Stones of the Eighteenth Century. David is a member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, Pickens County SC Historical Society and is a grant recipient of the South Carolina Arts Commission for his stone work. He has just been selected by the magazine Early American Life as one of America’s Best Craftsmen and selected for the Directory of Traditional Crafts in the August 2014 issue.

More about David and Renee can be found at their website at pumpkintownprimitives.com

 

The Art of the Sea with Val Kells

Marine Science Illustrator Val Kells is an ‘obsessive compulsive’ fisherman. A photo of Kells on her website shows her proudly displaying a Permit that she caught off Cudjoe Key in 2011. “I take a photograph of every fish I catch before I release it,” she says.

Val Kells

Marine Science Illustrator Val Kells at home on the water

Kells is a full-time, highly trained, freelance scientific illustrator with over 30 years of professional experience. She works closely with educational, design, and curatorial staff to produce accurate and aesthetic scientific and interpretive illustrations. She has created over 2,000 illustrations for a wide variety of clients including publishers, designers, master planners, museums, nature centers, and public aquariums and is the coauthor of A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes – from Maine to Texas. “This comprehensive guidebook to all of the fishes found along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts should become an integral part of the library of any naturalist, angler, or fish enthusiast,” says Edward O. Murdy, National Science Foundation.

Val Kells Book Cover

A comprehensive guide book to coastal fishes

She is currently working on the Pacific coast version which will include close to 800 species and will be published in the spring of 2016. These comprehensive books are used in classrooms, labs, and on boats by students, scientists, and nature lovers. “I love when people send me photographs of themselves on a boat with a fish in one hand and my book in another,” she says. Kells says her work is ongoing and she will unlikely run out of subjects to illustrate.

Kells’ research is meticulous and each illustration can take up to a full day to complete. She works from her studio in Virginia with the support of an extensive network of associates and colleagues across the country.  She begins with a preliminary pencil drawing to ‘work out the kinks’ paying close attention to the morphology of the species from the number of scales to the placement of fins. When she is satisfied, she transfers the drawing to watercolor paper and begins to paint. “I go into a Zen mode at this point. I turn on some Bruce Springsteen and paint until it’s done.”

Kells began drawing as a very young girl in Rye, New York, and studied art throughout high school. “I also had a deep love of the natural environment from the time I was young. And when my parents sent me to a summer camp in the Florida Keys, I decided that I wanted to be a marine biologist,” she adds. After studying Marine Biology at Boston University, she transferred to UC Santa Cruz in 1983 and ‘fell upon’ the (then) newly established Science Illustration Program where she was able to combine her two loves: art and science. One of her first clients was the Monterey Bay Aquarium and since then she has worked with over 25 aquariums and museums around the country including the Florida State, Long Beach, and North Carolina aquariums. Kells also worked for our own South Carolina Aquarium when it first opened.

One of the best compliments she received was when a woman mistook her paintings for photographs. Her illustrations are precisely detailed and she says, “The artwork I create cannot be produced by photographic or digital means.” She enjoys working with fishes that are unusual and mimic coral or those that have evolved in fascinating ways. “I also love painting iridescent fishes like Billfishes, Tunas, and Mackerels because they allow the watercolor to do what it does best.” The love of her work and the fishes she carefully constructs on paper is evident in each illustration.

During her upcoming discussion “Art of the Sea” at the South Carolina Aquarium, she will discuss the continuing value of original drawings and paintings in a visual world awash with digital photographs.  Join us for another fabulous Art With a Twist Event to hear Val Kells speak about her creative process on September 24 at 6:30 pm!

For more information about Val Kells visit: www.valkellsillustration.com

Location:  SC Aquarium, 100 Aquarium Wharf

Reception and Book Signing will follow.

$20 Members, $30 Non-Members

Science + Art + Poetry= Creative Kids

It has been quite some years since I spent a week at summer camp, much less a week inside a school during the middle of the summer.  I have never been expected to combine museum art, music, science, and writing as a student, much less a teacher, but a few weeks ago all that changed.

As a writer, I often respond to art through “Ekphrasis,” a dramatic, literary description of visual work of art.  And I love to teach that exploration of the known and unknown to others.  When Engaging Creative Minds said they were putting a camp together for this summer that was all about putting the arts and science together (read geek here) for kids, I said “Sign Me Up!!”  About the same time, I met Elise Detterbeck and Rebecca Sailor of the Gibbes Museum and learned about the art education program, and when we spoke about the possibility of collaboration at some point, the hair on the back of my neck stood up.  I have learned to trust this instinct.  It does not denote fear to me. It is the actual feeling of YES, do this, take this path. And that is how the partnership between the Gibbes Museum and my teaching for this summer’s STEAM Camp began.

STEAM

Summer STEAM camp at the School of the Arts

For the week of Gravity, Static Electricity, Magnetism, and Force students, 50-plus 3rd graders and I wrestled images, our bodies, words, and music, and then wrested poems and drawings that invited these concepts of science and the arts to play in our classroom.  I admit that at the beginning, I was daunted by the initial attempt to line up still images from the Gibbes’ collections with these science principles.  Not only because these concepts demand a sense of actual physical movement, but because as a writer and teacher, I wanted my students to understand that these science words, especially gravity and force, mean more than what is seen in a science lab.  This is what the arts bring to the mind, the imagination, the heart.  If I could not give them a glimpse of what else a vortex or a game of tug of war might mean on that “other” level, I would feel I had not done my job.

Each day at camp we began with scientific definitions, of dictionary definitions. We imagined what color gravity is, how static electricity tastes, how magnetism sounds, how force smells, what they all feel like to touch, to be touched by them. Then we looked at the image-texts provided by the Gibbes for us, and let our wonder spill out into our bodies and onto paper.  It is very important to keep 3rd – 5th graders moving!

On day one, we talked about gravity, what holds us and what holds us down and about defying gravity, as we looked at Eden’s Wizard of Oz Series “Inside the Witches House.” Day 2, we stepped up to the Smart Board and mimicked Hagerty’s “Moving with Time” as we became the characters of the painting, then morphed into another version of them, at the imagined touch of static electricity. Day 3 we explored the mystery of Lawrence’s “Accident” up close to the projected image, leaned in and considered what drew us towards both scary and joy-filled events. On Day 4, we spoke of forces, forces for good, forces for evil, making choices and where that force comes from inside of us, with Jansen’s “Lego Bricks” man.

Accident 1946 by Jacob Lawrence

Accident 1946 by Jacob Lawrence

Then we wrote. Each student wrote a 5 line poem, a Cinquain that combined the ideas, concepts, words we had explored that day. We wrote to the art we had seen, the music I played for them that, like the Gibbes’ images gave another contextual avenue to their imaginations. Then we drew. We “pictured” the scientific concepts as objects, just as the Gibbes’ images offered possibilities our brains tied to them.  It was glorious to watch, to hear their minds bend and dance around, (and to watch some of their counselors get as excited as the kids) as they found new ways to conceive ideas, to breathe life into pens and into markers on a blank page.  I wish you could have seen them, the frowns of concentration, the smiles of ah-ha!

On the last day of camp, before they read their poems and showed their drawings to the rest of the camp, and some parents who came to cheer them on, we reviewed concepts of science and writing. We recalled how onomatopoeia is like static electricity, how magnetism pulls and pushes, how each image from the Gibbes made us go, “WOW!”  Then we wrote a poem together, a class poem, that combined all our senses, all our concepts, all our imaginations—the one thing I told them they must bring to class each day. And then, I gave the students markers and pens and the gift of play-dough, (which they could take home courtesy of Engaging Creative Minds) turned on some music, and let them 3-D something, anything they had learned.

I am not an art teacher. What they made was not fine-tuned with artistic skill past what they owned instinctually. But when they molded a piece into the space between two tables, out of curiosity, and discovered what it would do to the clay, giving them a whole new direction to play towards; or when they made a concrete object out of a concept and explained it to the class in simple, eloquent words that intertwined definition #1 with definition #2 or #3, then I could go home, tired, good tired, and smile too.  It was a good week, a hard week sometimes, but each of us grew. Each child and adult who brought their imaginations with them, let them out to play together in the space where the arts meets the sciences, stretched ourselves in ways we might never have imagined, had we not joined our forces, forces for good.

Mary Hutchins Harris, Poet and Guest Blogger

Check the calendar for a full listing of fall classes for adult and children

Summer Camp at the Gibbes, an Intern’s Point of View

As a fine arts major at the University of Florida, I wanted to spend my summer introducing others to something I love.  I was thrilled to accept the opportunity to come to Charleston and intern at the Gibbes Museum of Art’s summer camp. Working with Kristen Solecki and the various groups of children that come to camp has proved to be a rewarding experience. When I was a child, summer art camps and classes were a highlight of my summer, and it has been very fulfilling to be able to help young campers have a similar experience.

Summer Camp

Campers proudly displaying their artwork

Each week, a different theme provides the base from which our projects stem, and the young artists do an excellent job of creating a unique collection of work to present at the camp’s concluding art show. This past week, our theme was “Art through the Ages” and campers learned about artists such as Frida Kahlo and Vasily Kadinsky. They loved learning about the artists’ backgrounds and works, and were very eager to make their own versions of vibrant fruit collages and patterned abstract drawings. This eagerness to learn, create, and discover new media at such a young age has been what has impressed me the most throughout the course of camp. Campers enjoy discovering how they can mix their own paint colors and they attempt to make as many unique shades as possible.

George Washington

George Washington Bust

During our nature themed week, campers were able to sit by the windows to draw from the scenery and take walks outside to gather inspiration. Various leaves, flower petals, and pebbles were collected to make multimedia collages. Campers also got a taste of printmaking, learning how to roll ink onto their found objects and press them onto sheets of paper. They were surprised at all the details and unique patterns that appeared from these simple outside findings. Working with clay has been a big hit as well, as the children are excited to turn their ideas into 3D forms. Campers experimented with both the pinch and coil method to make little pots and cups to hold their collectables at home. “I can’t wait to show my mom and dad” has been a common phrase in the classroom. These young artists are proud and excited by what they’ve created and rightfully so!

 

Taylor helping with the campers

Taylor assisting campers

Once a week, campers get to take a trip across the street to the museum to explore and learn about the many great works it holds. They are always excited to find out that the George Washington bust was once buried beneath the ground and is now so pristine and restored for viewing. They also enjoy seeing paintings of historic Charleston and being able recognize sites they can still see today, such as the market and the battery. When their tour is over, many of the children even ask if they can come back to show their parents.

As I prepare to return back to school for my senior year, I will keep in mind the eagerness of our young campers and remember to keep that enthusiasm and fasciation alive in my own work.

Taylor Adams, Summer Intern and Guest Blogger

The Art of Spinning Yarn, a Museum Educator’s Ongoing Education

I started volunteering with the Gibbes almost five years ago after getting a master’s degree in art history. Since then I’ve worked on numerous projects in the curatorial department, helped with art camp one summer, and become a museum educator. While not at the museum, I work at a local stained glass studio, Blue Heron Glass, where I teach and create unique works of glass art.

Davidson Hall

Davidson Hall is the building our classroom was in, as seen from the Herb Garden Path.

I was able to combine my interests in art and education, including my obsessions with knitting and yarn, on my recent vacation to the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. I took a week-long spinning class (spinning yarn, not bicycles) with a good friend and we stayed at one of the school’s houses. Neither of us had ever spun yarn before, but we were both excited for the challenge. The school is located in the mountains in a small town called Brasstown, NC, very near the Georgia and Tennessee borders. They offer classes all year long and in many different topics like fiber arts (spinning, knitting, weaving, quilting, etc.), blacksmithing, pottery, writing, painting, woodturning, music, and other folk arts.

It was like stepping into a different time and onto a slightly different planet. Upon checking in, we learned that there were no keys to the rooms and while our linens were provided, we had to make our own beds. Meals were included with our board and all the dining was family-style where we served ourselves and bussed our own tables. It was camp for adults (although they welcome young ones to the school).  Much of the food was grown in the school’s gardens and they baked most of the bread there. There were numerous paths and trails on the grounds, and we enjoyed walking through the woods and fields of the school.

spinning class setup

Spinning Class shows our set-up with the wheels and fleece.

Our spinning instructor was from Boulder, CO and there were people from all across the country in our class. We started by discussing how to prepare a fleece directly from the sheep and moved on from there. Over the course of the week we spun yarn from five different breeds of sheep, cotton, silk and commercially available roving. We learned about different types of spinning wheels and even played a little with drop spindles. We played with hand carders, drum carders, long combs and all sorts of other tools that looked like torture devices. The most exciting and crazy thing we tried was spinning cotton thread directly from unprocessed cotton bolls. One afternoon we took an impromptu field trip to a local sheep farm.

Along with the classes they had activities in the evenings like demonstrations from other classes, a contra dance, and a concert on Friday night. Every morning there was “Morning Song,” a 30 minute session of blue grass music and storytelling. There was a fabulous craft shop just under the dining hall that featured goods made by various teachers at the folk school and a book room. Meal times were also a treat because we met interesting people from other classes. Some students were learning totally new skills, like us, while others were taking intermediate or advanced courses.

Overall, it was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to go back. It was such a pleasure to see so many dying arts and crafts alive and well at the folk school and I realized that there are so many other things I want to learn. I just need to figure out what to make with all my hand-spun yarn!

mountain beard

“Mountain Beard” shows my love of fleece!

Rebecca Heister, Museum Educator and Volunteer

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)

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