Every teacher looks for ways to make learning “stick” and many will agree that hands-on lessons are the most unforgettable. The Gibbes Museum of Art has a portable kit called Create-A-Map that is totally hands-on, and it’s available for schools to use. With Create-A-Map, learning about South Carolina is fun, educational, and, most of all, memorable.
The Create-A-Map kit has been updated and is ready to travel to your school!
Create-A-Map allows students to construct a 9×12 foot, three dimensional map of South Carolina right on their classroom floor. The base is a large canvas floor cloth with the outline of the state and a numbered and lettered grid drawn on it to help guide the placement of cities, rivers, products, etc. Participants are divided into seven “teams” and for each team there is a small map for reference and a box of items to place on the floor map.
Students can add their game pieces to the floor map.
The “Cities” Team has nine plastic cups, labeled with city names and covered with artwork and photos, to place on the grid. The “Rivers and Lakes” Team uses blue ropes and foam-board lakes. “Interstate Highways” are represented with long black strips affixed with Matchbox cars. The “Regions” Team divides the state with yellow ropes, and then adds labels, bean-bag mountains, and sandhills to the floor map. “Products” (a tiny basket of cotton, strawberries, a toy boat for shipping, etc.), “State Symbols” (a piece of blue granite, a plastic spotted salamander, etc.), and “People” representing famous South Carolina citizens (each represented with a small scrapbook), round out the teams. The map can be assembled in about an hour, and when it’s finished, it’s loaded with information that can foster discussions and further study. The map was an idea that began as an outdoor project at the museum more than fifteen years ago. Using the back patio of the museum as the grid, student visitors built an enormous South Carolina map right in the courtyard. The next step in its development was to make a travelling kit that would fit in a classroom, and Create-A-Map was born.
Some of the products important to South Carolina’s agricultural economy.
Over the years the kit has been used by many schools and has been revised several times. This year the museum asked me to refurbish Create-A-Map, bring it up-to-date with school standards and technology, and streamline it for easier use. I’ve always been a big fan of the kit because it combines social studies, geography, history, mapping skills, art appreciation, problem-solving, and teamwork! It was my pleasure to tweak it for 2013.
A completed map includes regions, people, products and other details specific to the state of South Carolina.
Those of you who have used the kit before might notice some changes. I added the outline of South Carolina directly to the floor cloth so students wouldn’t have to lay out the border with a rope (which never stayed put!). I added a team for famous South Carolinians and made a tiny “scrapbook” to represent each of the ten people. I reworked the regions team to comply with the SC standards. The instructions and team boxes have been streamlined so now the entire kit fits into one rolling bin (2’6” x 1’6” x 1’2”).
The new kit is complete and ready to go! Reserve it for your classroom by contacting Rebecca Sailor at the Gibbes Museum by phone, 843-722-2706 x41, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love your feedback, and we hope you enjoy the new and improved Create-A-Map!
—Mary Droge, Gibbes Museum Educator and guest blogger
Interning at the Gibbes Museum of Art for the majority of this summer has been an absolute privilege and certainly an eye-opener towards discovering the elements that allow a museum to function successfully. Here, I have been exposed to almost every different department, a few being Development, Curatorial and Collections Management, and Education Programs. Given the opportunity to assist various staff-members in these departments, I have entered an incredibly determined, passionate, and efficient network of people. The museum staff have devoted an immeasurable amount of effort and enthusiasm towards interpreting and preserving the meanings of various art collections that derive from Charleston and the South. Throughout my time here, I have noticed that the Gibbes’s mission—to preserve and promote the art of Charleston and the American South—rings true within the museum as well as with local communities and visitors to the Lowcountry.
A cross-section of the building reveals plans for a renovation to the Gibbes Museum of Art.
In my first week, I was introduced to the more “executive” facet of the Gibbes, working with the Development team. I learned that the museum is not-for-profit and depends on funding from various sources including private trusts and foundation grants, as well as individual and corporate gifts, for its daily operations and to maintain its collection. Each fiscal year the Development team starts all over to identify funding sources that will help with the operations of the museum. I realized how much more work and fortitude is essential in order for a non-profit organization to function. During my time in the Development office, I also learned about plans for an extremely substantial and thoughtfully planned renovation that will commence in the summer of 2014. Throughout each meeting that I was attended, staff-members delivered innovative and fascinating ideas contributing to the plans of the redesign, and further emphasizing the importance of preserving the Gibbes’ mission statement. I am ecstatic to see the end result and to be able to watch everyone’s ideas blossom as they come to life in 2016!
After working with the Development group, my directors provided me with a complete change of scene. For the next week, I assisted with the summer art camp and my coworkers consisted of creative mini-Picassos. It was remarkable to see how eager and focused the children were when it came to organizing their ideas and then tactfully putting them onto paper. The end result was fantastic, expressive, and always original! As they discovered their artistic abilities, the enthusiastic teacher Kristen Solecki also enlightened the children about contemporary artists such as Jasper Johns and Mary Whyte. The children were interested to use the work of the artists that they learned about as models for their own pieces of art, incorporating characteristics of abstract and modern artwork into their own masterpieces.
Camp Instructor, Kristen Solecki, teaches campers about color palettes.
For the next two weeks, I worked with the Collections Management and Curatorial departments. With Collections Management, I was always on my feet and was able to see each different part of the museum, and even took a thrilling adventure into “deep, dark storage” where sizeable amounts of artwork were carefully kept. I was so lucky to be able to see and even handle some of the artwork, including marvelous paintings, many delicate miniatures, and valuable sketches done by Alice Ravenel Huger Smith. As I worked in these departments, I learned about numerous past exhibitions, even those that took place during the early 1900s. These departments provided me with an amazing view into the museum’s past and historical culture, as well as a wonderfully close look at the collection.
Receiving an inside look at the careful consideration of curating exhibitions, establishing connections to the community, promoting educational programs, and further projects that define the creative purpose of the Gibbes, I have seen the museum’s mission statement continue to speak louder and grow more meaningful each day. The Gibbes Museum of Art is built upon and held together by a thoughtful, strong, well connected, and ambitious group of people with whom I have had the absolute pleasure of being able to work.
—Elizabeth McGehee, Porter-Gaud High School Intern and guest blogger
2013 is the second year of a partnership between Porter-Gaud School and the Gibbes Museum of Art. Made possible by the generous support of past Porter-Gaud parents Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Wendell, this internship is designed to enrich a student’s knowledge of art history and the museum profession.
The Anatomy drawing class for third through eighth graders, held on Tuesdays at Hazel Parker Community Center, studied the process of eighteenth century landscape painting without the use of the camera. Each week students selected various objects from nature to incorporate into a scene that they envisioned to paint. Students learned to employ different media that are commonly used for collecting data for final paintings. The first week we used graphite, charcoal, and white conté; the second week we used pen and ink material; the third we used watercolor; and the fourth week we used acrylics to create a finished painting.
The second week, the weather was at its best so the students and I were outside at Hazel Park. We worked on developing our ability to focus more closely on the details of objects in nature. As part of our study, we chose various trees to observe and determined the angle of direction for each one. Next we determined what side the shadows were located on the trunks of the trees and how many highlights we saw. The drawings below are some of the results from our enjoyable nature study.
My experience as an artist, and for all artists, is to build observation skills. The more that I have practiced viewing objects, people, and environments from life, the better I can read and see detail which then translates into seeing color. During our anatomy lessons, I showed students how to break down what they see in into basic shapes, and how defining those shapes leads to viewing details. This process helps students gain confidence to put what they see on paper, but they have to get past the obvious. As aspiring artists, we all can see, but we have to look more closely to make our works come to life and create the believable.
—Charles Williams, teaching artist and guest blogger
I am so excited to be teaching the summer camp at the Gibbes Museum this year! Our goal this summer is to experience several different kinds of art making using new techniques and media. The campers will create art taking inspiration from the works by many fine artists at the Gibbes Museum. We will spend one week-long session learning about printmaking, using methods that are hundreds of years old. Another session will focus on exploring the world of Modern Art. We will use paints, resists, and mixed media in new ways inspired by the works of artists like Jasper Johns and Jill Hooper. Our last camp session is all about the Sea. We will make our own 3-D underwater creatures, illustrations, and learn how to create a landscape.
Summer campers hard at work.
Sea Turtle, 1929, by Anna Heyward Taylor
I work full time as an illustrator and artist, but when I am not in my studio I teach. I have been teaching workshops and private art classes for over six years. It is wonderful to be able to share the passion for what I do with others and to work in a group where students and I can inspire one another with our ideas. I love to see my younger students gain confidence through their work and see what they create with the techniques we have learned. We are looking forward to a terrific camp!
In a city as vibrant and storied as Charleston, where history is said to live and artistic influence to breathe, it seems that we locals would be remiss to miss out on the enlightenment readily available in our own backyards. Lately, Charleston has proudly embraced a love of all things local, from local business to local produce. To me, it seems only logical that we equal-opportunity “locavores” should also indulge in the local cultural fare of our fair city. It was in this spirit that the History and English instructors of Ashley Hall’s 7th grade decided to orchestrate a local lowcountry exploration—leading our class on an adventure as “tourists” in their own town.
The Ashley Hall 7th-grade girls pose in front of the Gibbes.
After studying the fundamental elements of art and architecture, the girls departed on a walking tour of the peninsula to put their new knowledge to the test. Equipped with widened eyes for art and armed with iPads poised for documentation, the class set out on foot, bundled up and bound for the Gibbes Museum of Art.
Once dubbed an “ornament to Charleston,” the Gibbes Museum has long served as a bastion of fine arts in this picturesque city. Today, the museum houses over 10,000 objects. The majority of these are tied in some way to the culture and history of South Carolina’s Lowcountry, hence the permanent exhibit’s title, The Charleston Story.
On this first trip, the girls were taken under the wings of seasoned museum docents Pat Burgess and Elise Detterbeck, who regaled them with tales of art and adventure, style and scandal, trends and broken traditions in the world of art. They led the group from gallery to gallery, bringing to life a story of Charleston than spanned centuries. The collective past they described was a vast one, told from many different perspectives and set against multiple backdrops, from the Plantation to the Sea Islands. The Charleston they described was multifaceted and marked by both astounding privilege and staggering oppression. The shared message of the exhibit resounded: the authentic “Charleston Story” can hardly be reduced to a single tale.
At the end of the training, it was apparent that what goes into adorning the walls of the Gibbes is far more complex than just picking out the prettiest pictures. In a matter of hours, the students began to appreciate the full force within the frames, and several voiced curatorial aspirations.
A 7th-grader presents Mary Edna Fraser’s batik entitled “Charleston Runner.”
After the tour, students were given time to interact with the paintings individually. Stationed before a work of their choosing, each student mused about possibilities inspired by her favorite image and penned (or, rather, pecked out) a creative reflection to post and share on the class website. Soon enough, it was time to pack up and bid farewell to Charleston’s “ornament” of a museum and its spectacular contents.
The girls departed the Gibbes and set out on the second leg of their touristy romp: an architectural tour of the city led by Ashley Hall 7th grade history teacher Mary Webb that featured visits to the Edmundston-Alston House and the Charleston Library Society. With several miles—not to mention several centuries and countless facts—under our belts, we finally returned to Ashley Hall and the familiar territory of campus.
“Mrs. Johnson (Estelle),” by Barkley Hendricks, is the featured artwork in this presentation.
In the three short weeks that followed this inaugural visit, a transformation occurred: the once-tourists became the tour guides! After selecting a specific work from the Gibbes’s collection, the girls dove into a full-fledged research project, digging for information, evaluating sources, and piecing together their findings. Through resourceful research, several students were able to contact their more contemporary artists firsthand, and 7th grader Hannah was able to strike up a conversation with renowned photographer and environmentalist speaker J. Henry Fair that ultimately resulted in a visiting lecture for the entire Upper School. Finally, students were ready to present their research for their peers in preparation for the big show: a docent tour for a live audience.
On the presentation day, the students were joined by an enthusiastic audience that included family, friends, and an entire class of first grade buddies or “little sisters” from Ashley Hall. With this group, the junior docents shared both a wealth of knowledge and a fun-filled afternoon.
Grace presents “Highway Series, #9992″ to classmates and artist Eva Carter!
A particularly special moment occurred when featured artist Eva Carter showed up to watch 7th grade student Grace as she presented Carter’s exhibited painting “Highway Blues.” When Carter initiated a round of applause in approval of Grace’s presentation, it seemed to echo my own euphoric sentiments: They nailed it! The performances not only dazzled me, but also impressed museum educators: Pat and Elise called Ashley Hall’s docent work “eye-opening” and “confident,” and Gibbes Head Educator Rebecca Sailor reported being “blown away” by the tours.
The girls were also proud of themselves. Here’s what they had to say about the project:
“I was amazed by how confident everyone was while presenting. We really knew the information and it was fun seeing our little sisters’ reactions to the art.”—Ella, 7th grade
“Our presentations were to the point, informative, and interactive. Our little sisters seemed excited to learn more!”—Olivia, 7th grade
“The best part of my project was when I got to email my artist, Jonathan Green, and find out why he painted the way he did.”—Chasity, 7th grade
“The best part of the project was when I got to meet my artist, Eva Carter!”—Grace, 7th grade
“The best part of this project was going to the museum the first day because I love the pieces of artwork at the Gibbes and loved getting to go there.”—Brooke, 7th grade
“The best part of the project was getting to walk around Charleston because it is a beautiful city that we often take for granted.”—Lou Lou, 7th grade
In the wake of our Gibbes Junior Docent project experience, I hope these students continue to nourish the instinct they cultivated in the museum to always look again—to give a second glance to the things before them-whether this be a work of art, an idea, a person, a story, or even a hometown—and to greet the world around them with ever-widening eyes.
—Anne Rhett, Ashley Hall Upper School Faculty Member, English Department, and guest blogger
This semester, I have been working with Megan Sweeney’s Angel Oak Elementary School classes on a project called “Going the Distance for the Arts.” It is a wonderful feeling to go into a classroom and see how excited students are over creating something that is their own, as well as collaborating on a larger project together. As an introduction to the Gibbes Museum, classes learned about the bust of George Washington, sculpted by Giusepe Ceracchi ca. 1792, and the importance of a portrait. The students learned how to draw a self-portrait and to translate onto paper what they see in 3-D.
In addition to the classroom activities, I have been meeting with the Art Club at Angel Oak. Each member received his or her own sketchbook and we discussed the importance of drawing from life, from your imagination, and from words. We have been writing about our work as well, as an exercise to examine the connection between visual art and the written word. I find each of my encounters with the students so inspiring.
—Kristen Solecki, Teaching Artist and Guest Blogger
Museum Educators Elise Detterbeck, Pat Burgess, Martha Criscuolo, Barbie Kratovil, and Mary Droge.
Once the school buses have parked, their exuberant passengers spill out onto Meeting Street and over the steps of the museum. We, their guides, are the first face of the Gibbes, and set the tone for their ensuing adventure. After negotiating 45–50 rambunctious students into 2 or 3 somewhat orderly lines, we’re ready to start the journey through our galleries. For most, it’s the first time they’ve been to the Gibbes, and therein lies the challenge. If this is to be successful—and hopefully spark an interest that may not be kindled were it not for this opportunity—how do you grab their imagination? How do you intertwine South Carolina and Charleston history, with its art and artists, in a memorable way in just 45 minutes?!
The collection is presented in chronological order, so usually we split groups: one starting with the earliest eighteenth century works; one in the nineteenth century; and one in the modern and contemporary galleries. It’s always so interesting to hear the children’s comments as they march along, gazing left and right down the hall of portraits; weaving around that dazzling silver soup tureen; entering the large room with the huge reclining figure of a woman in green; veering left, and finally heading up the stairs. Once settled in front of our first object, the fun begins when I ask the students questions to elicit their ideas about what they’re looking at.
Museum Educator Elise Detterbeck and students in the galleries.
Together we start a dialogue. Why is it important to actually see works of art up close and personal; to look at the brush strokes and notice how the paint or watercolor is applied, lines drawn, and shapes created? I ask the group to notice the subject’s face and hands: are they realistic or abstract? And what about the landscapes: do they appear detailed or impressionistic? We compare and contrast the different techniques. The hope is to instill in these young onlookers an appreciation for the everyday beauty of life. This visit may start the journey for some, who will discover a creative outlet to express themselves. For others, the experience may heighten their awareness of the artistry in one’s surroundings.
As funding for the arts nationwide has diminished, it is more and more difficult for schools to take field trips like these to museums. So this fall, some of the museum educators at the Gibbes will be heading out into surrounding South Carolina schools to take the museum on the road with the “Eye Spy” program, generously sponsored by the C. Louis Meyer Foundation. Each of us will be assigned to a different elementary school, where we’ll visit the third-grade art class once a month during the school year, ending with a visit to the museum. The concept is to familiarize students with art elements, techniques, and mediums by studying works of art from both the Gibbes collection and those of other museums. The hope is that multiple sessions with the same group of students will re-enforce and encourage an interest in art; and as I alluded to before, engender an appreciation of the artistry in everyday life. Sharing great works of art with young learners is both the joy, and the challenge, that makes what we do at the Gibbes so never-endingly rewarding.
—Barbie Kratovil, Museum Educator, Gibbes Board Member, and guest blogger
Working as an intern at the Gibbes has been an incredible experience for me. It has given me a whole new appreciation for art and the people who are behind-the-scenes making this museum a success. Although my internship is only six weeks, I have the amazing opportunity to spend each week with a different department head. Being the first high school intern to work at the Gibbes I had no idea what to expect, my only hope was to find the department that interested me the most so that I could further my studies in it when I go off to college next fall.
I spent my first week working with Rebecca Sailor, associate curator of education, helping with the Gibbes Summer Art Camp. I came here as a camper at age four and now I’m back fourteen years later with the same eyes but a different view. I didn’t know the challenge that came with teaching a class of four year olds, but I loved getting to know each of the kids and seeing them improve on their drawings and ideas every day. Helping with this class made me realize that even though I was in the position of a teacher, I would always be a student of art, learning new things about famous paintings I had seen multiple times before.
Artist Mary Whyte leads a tour of her watercolor exhibition, Working South, on view at the Gibbes through September 9, 2012.
I spent my next weeks working with curator, Sara Arnold and the director of collections administration, Zinnia Willits. I had the unique opportunity of working at the Gibbes during the Mary Whyte: Working South exhibition. I loved learning about the process in which the exhibit was shipped and installed in the Main Gallery by only a few members of the small staff here. To me, the most fascinating aspect of this exhibit was that the Gibbes is offering a series of tours to museum visitors led by Mary Whyte herself. Working with the curatorial team, I was also able to assist with the upcoming exhibit Willard Hirsch: Charleston’s Sculptor. I was not only involved with researching and learning about the sculptures, I was able to test out a walking tour of public sculptures by Hirsch, and take photographs of each of his incredible sculptures. I enjoyed seeing the connections between the Gibbes Museum and the locations where these sculptures are installed.
Do-Si-Do, 1981, by Willard Hirsch (American, 1905–1982). Bronze. Washington Square Park, Charleston, S.C. Photo by Douglas M. Pinkerton
This has been an unforgettable experience for me and I look forward to the upcoming weeks where I will assist Executive Director Angela Mack and work in the Museum Store. I have learned more about the inner workings of an art museum than I ever imagined I would. The amount of thought and work that the staff puts into each idea is truly admirable and I hope to one day pursue a career in the museum world.
—Lexie Meyer, Porter-Gaud High School Intern and guest blogger
2012 is the first year of a partnership between Porter-Gaud School and the Gibbes Museum of Art. Made possible by the generous support of past Porter-Gaud parents Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Wendell, this internship is designed to enrich a student’s knowledge of art history and the museum profession.
My name is Jessica Orcutt, and I am an assistant teacher for the wonderful children’s art camp that the Gibbes hosts each summer. I am a junior at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. Though my school is over a thousand miles away, I will always be thankful that I spent most of my childhood in Charleston. My years in this beautiful city have given me a deep appreciation for its impressive historical and artistic heritage, and it has been my pleasure this summer to introduce our next generation to Charleston’s creative traditions.
Eliza paints a self-portrait after studying Egyptian mummy portraits.
Gray's self-portrait is in the style of Egyptian mummy portraits.
I am a History major, but I have always enjoyed creating and studying art. Interning with the museum’s Education and Outreach department has allowed me to learn more about art right alongside my campers. In the first camp session, the children learned about many different ancient civilizations— we painted our names in Egyptian hieroglyphics, created rustic cave paintings, constructed fantastical African masks, pieced together Roman mosaics, and sewed Native American medicine pouches. Every day before we began our art projects, the children would sit together on the rug and learn about a particular civilization. Perhaps the best moment of this camp was when, after studying ancient Roman mosaics, the campers discovered present-day mosaics all around them, from the floor of the entrance into the Gibbes, all the way to the dome crowning the top of the museum. I greatly enjoyed laying down on the carpet of the Rotunda Gallery of the museum with the campers, and staring up into the green stained-glass dome. The kids were one hundred percent positive that it was made to look like the eye of a dragon; that the entire building made up the creature’s body; and that we were currently lying in the dragon’s belly.
Nikos' fish design is made from small squares of paper, emulating Roman mosaics.
Ella creates a mosaic design during Art of the Ancient World.
The second camp session was called “Go Green,” and was centered around teaching the kids about the importance of recycling and protecting our environment. We created all of our art projects in this camp purely out of recycled materials. Both the younger and older age groups greatly enjoyed tie-dying shirts, creating magazine collages, and putting together sculptures made from discarded objects. Many of the older campers made impressive and imaginative sculptures, such as a surfing scene, rockets, and a positively adorable giraffe. The younger campers, aged between four and seven, had the opportunity to make instruments from recycled materials— it was obvious that they greatly enjoyed this project. They proceeded to create an instrumental band and give us teachers a wonderful concert in the recess area!
Shep paints a papier-mâché globe during Go Green week.
Alex creates a collage with recycled screw-caps during Go Green week.
The third session, called “Charleston’s Gardens and Wildlife,” is perhaps the most popular of all three camps. Both weeks are completely full, and there is a waiting list a mile long! But I am so glad that children and their parents find interest and joy in Charleston’s natural beauty. In this camp, we will be learning about and drawing examples of the Lowcountry’s native flora and fauna. We will also be visiting several local gardens so that we may sketch and paint in a pleasant outdoor environment. The campers will also be taking home personal terrariums. We will focus on one particular temporary exhibition in the museum, Places for the Spirit: Traditional African American Gardens of the South. The black-and-white photographs that make up this exhibit are truly beautiful, and though I have seen them several times (we take each group of campers to the museum every Friday), the wonder and mystery of the photographs never fail to touch me. Truly, if you have not yet had the chance to visit either this exhibit or Mary Whyte’s watercolor masterpieces, please consider doing so. Such art should not be missed, and I am so glad the children who participated in each of these camps have had the opportunity to experience such beautiful creations.
Campers take an outing to Washington Park for plein-air painting during Charleston Gardens & Wildlife.
The museum provides the next generation with an invaluable opportunity to discover Charleston’s artistic history, and also provides them with a more modern view of the world they live in. From what I have gathered in talking with campers’ parents, the kids have truly enjoyed creating personal masterpieces. I feel truly blessed to have been given this opportunity to work with such wonderful and enthusiastic young artists over these past several weeks.
Jessica with campers during a plein-air painting session.
—Jessica Orcutt, Gibbes summer intern and guest blogger
Detail from a mechanical drawing shows the design of a mechanical arm.
As an art educator, one of my goals is to help students identify and develop the necessary skills for a rewarding and productive career that will benefit them, their community, and the world in general. I am often asked where art fits into this endeavor. The world is changing so fast and our definition and understanding of the purpose of art has evolved tremendously. Art is so much more than a pretty picture on the wall. The definition of an artist is broader. A favorite quote of mine from Transformation of Nature in Art (1934) by the philosopher Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1877–1947) reads “The artist is not a special kind of man, but every man is a special kind of artist.” It speaks to my belief that we all have access to creativity within. Research shows that art-making activities —which use the right side of the brain—support and foster creativity, which is essential to innovation. Visual design and creative thinking are incorporated into all careers—from scientists to carpenters and homemakers to engineers. Companies want workers who can brainstorm, problem-solve, collaborate, contribute, and communicate new ideas. In the field of education, art becomes more powerful when it is used in conjunction with other subjects. I feel like part of my purpose is not only to educate my students, but also to teach the people around me about the impact of art on their lives.
This image, entitled Light Art, shows a student experimenting with time exposure in photography.
The project I presented for the Mary Whyte Art Educator Award is based on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics)—one of latest movements/initiatives in education based on hands-on, reality-centered, interdisciplinary collaboration. Working with the engineering teacher, I developed a unit for a design team consisting of visual art and engineering students. The cross-curricular project involved engineering, computer technology, industrial design, commercial art, innovative thinking, competition, teamwork, and creativity.
The art students came up with an invention and drew it from different angles (incorporating spatial intelligence). They wrote a description of the object (incorporating literacy and writing) and identified the measurements (involving math skills). The designs were then sent to the engineering class who selected the most appropriate designs for their task. The engineering students transformed the sketches into CAD (computer-aided design) digital images using a program called Inventor. Engineering students were encouraged to communicate with the artists on specifications and clarification through email. Engineering students created a PowerPoint to present to the student teams and a potential client/engineering team. Some of the digital designs could be printed on the school’s 3-D printer—Amazing!
A digital image of the coffee table inspired by the visual arts student’s sketch.
Educators are discovering the power of the arts in all subject areas. My project’s goal was to create, incorporate, and infuse multi-disciplinary units that incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering and Math into the Arts and academic subjects. People have realized that life is not divided into subjects but involves integration, collaboration and connections in order to make something “big” happen. Art focuses on Benjamin Bloom’s highest intelligence trait: creativity. Without creative minds scientists would not take the risks to discover; engineers would not have anything to create; and just think of all the “creative” math that we use each day. Art education involves not only drafting, composition, color-theory and 3-D modeling—art teachers employ math, literacy, science, history, design, as well as social and emotional learning.
Computer Geek was created by a sculpture student using machines and parts.
As I plan my day-to-day lessons, I incorporate science activities such as sketching from nature and the chemistry of paints and clay. We explore technology in our use of Photoshop for photography sessions, and we research artists and images on the classroom Smart board. My classes study design elements, environmental aesthetics, and architecture connected to engineering. Art instruction includes mathematics by utilizing geometric shapes, perspective, and the Golden Ratio in compositions. I try to impress upon my students the need to be innovative as they pursue fields about which they are passionate. I believe that when people realize the power of the arts and how all things connect in life, the arts will become more relevant, appreciated, and supported.
In order to promote these ideas to my peers, I designed three graduate classes that provide opportunities for teachers to share ideas and teaching strategies that integrate the arts into other subjects. I will also be teaching a graduate painting class in the fall sponsored by the Berkeley County School District and Charleston Southern University. The class, titled Teachers as Artists: Community, Collaboration, Connections, is a studio experience emphasizing STEAM connection. I’ve discovered that when people collaborate—their ideas become larger and their projects more powerful.
iPod Addict was created by an Advanced Placement Studio Art student illustrating the concept of our addictions to technology.
I invite YOU to reflect on how your job requires creativity and connects to the arts, and encourage you to become aware, teach your children, get involved in your school’s STEAM programs, and come visit my graduate class this fall to make more connections. Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comment field below on how we can ALL make the arts stronger.
—Robin Boston, 2012 Mary Whyte Award Winner, art educator/Artist, and guest blogger