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