Archive for the 'Education' Category

Experience a Summer of Fun with the Gibbes!

Summer is here and we are excited to welcome back many familiar faces to the Gibbes Summer Art Camp, including our teacher Sally Collins. A long-time Gibbes teaching artist, this is Sally’s second year teaching summer camp. She does an outstanding job with the children, combining hands-on projects with art history. Each week-long session focuses on a theme and this year we will look at “Portraits,” “Charleston Artists Past and Present,” and “Charleston Architecture.” Children will end each week with a mini exhibit of their work for their parents to enjoy. I recently spoke with several parents whose children have enjoyed camp in previous years and wanted to share their comments, as well as some great images of campers having fun.

My son Gray has attended the Gibbes art camp for the last three years. I continue to be thrilled and amazed by the superior art instruction he receives and the quality work that is created. Each year he has produced a beautiful portfolio of work that reflects the skills he gained in painting, drawing and print-making in just one week. The Gibbes art camp provides a lively learning environment that inspires creativity and instills a true love of process. Student access to original works of art within the museum is an added bonus. My son returned from camp each day talking about a different artist or painting from the Gibbes collection and the particular techniques employed. Not confined to the classroom, the camp also offers the opportunity to create art against Charleston’s historic backdrop. My son has always been interested in art; this camp provides a wonderful opportunity for him to measurably improve his abilities. —Zinnia Willits


Our daughter Adriana has enjoyed tremendously the Gibbes Summer Art Camps. She attended all of the sessions last summer and brought back home a diverse portfolio of artwork. As a parent and an educator, I appreciated the quality of the work my child was exposed to and was grateful for the enthusiasm of the instructors. Each day, I looked forward to the new projects Adriana brought home and I know she was proud to share them with us. —Anna Ballinger

I hope to see you this summer. If you are interested in getting more information or registering your child please call or email me at 843-722-2706 ext. 41 or rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org or you can download our registration form on our website.

—Rebecca Sailor, Associate Curator of Education, Gibbes Museum of Art

The Role of Museum Professional Organizations

The museum profession is constantly changing. New standards for collections care, exhibition design, curatorial research, digitization of information, use of social media, educational programming, membership tracking, and every other aspect of museum work are being discussed daily on list-servs, blogs, and at various gatherings of museum professionals. Museum staff need high levels of knowledge and expertise to continue to add value to the communities they serve. Conferences and relevant workshops provide opportunities for peer engagement, expansion of one’s knowledge base, and information that can be put into practice immediately. In South Carolina, one important resource for professional development opportunities is the South Carolina Federation of Museums (SCFM), founded in 1970. Today, SCFM continues to support its mission to serve, represent, advocate, and promote the best interests of South Carolina museums through professional development, public relations, advocacy, and other services.

Image: Disaster Training for Museum Collections

Participants encounter wet art at the 2008 SCFM workshop, Disaster Training for Museum Collections.

For the past year I have served as Chair of the SCFM Professional Development Committee (PDC). Each year, this Committee plans the Federation’s annual conference. I worked with a group of eight individuals from museums and historic sites across the state to organize the two-day event. As many people know, volunteer committee work can be interesting, challenging and rewarding. An assortment of people who do not know each other well are expected to quickly figure out their strengths, weaknesses, and working styles to accomplish big goals. The PDC Committee met four times over the course of the year to plan the conference. Efficiency, open communication and the ability to adapt were essential during the planning process. I learned so much about leadership, group dynamics, and how to delegate instead of micro-manage. While there are aspects of committee work in my position at the Gibbes, event planning was new territory for me. I took every opportunity to ask questions and learn from others even though I was technically in charge.

The conference occurred in March in Columbia, South Carolina and offered an array of educational sessions, workshops, tours and networking events around the theme, Museums Matter. A session called Group Think: The South Carolina Experiment was a new addition to the 2011 conference. The idea came from the American Association of Museum’s Center for the Future of Museums (CFM), an organization that facilitates creative discussions and events to assist museums in “transcending traditional boundaries to serve society in new ways.” One of CFM’s projects is called Voices of the Future, an international, interdisciplinary discussion about the future of museums and society in which a series of questions are posed and the answers shared via YouTube.

We decided to try this type of informal discussion that allowed participants to interact while considering the future of the profession. We had close to fifty people attend the session. Participants were grouped by their positions (curators, educators, development and membership coordinators, administrators, etc.) and asked to consider three questions about the future of museums. The resulting discussions were lively and interesting. Educators were particularly animated while curators had quiet, thoughtful conversations. Registrars were (of course) very organized with their answers and administrators focused on broad themes that will impact all future museums. Below are the questions and a recap of the answers that resulted from Group Think.

Image: Group Think Workshop

South Carolina Museum Professionals discuss the future of museums during the Group Think session.


#1. What are the most important trends in society that will shape museums in the next 25 years?

All groups noted that technology was a major trend which will shape the future of museums. Educators also highlighted the lack of public financing and teacher accountability/student achievement as factors that will impact their role in museums. Administrators focused on nostalgia as a future trend. Curators discussed the effect of a global economy, social networking, and a museum’s ability to offer different points of access to its holdings as influential factors. The marketing group talked about technology and advertising opportunities, and registrars highlighted environmental awareness as a trend that will continue to effect museums and collections.

#2. What is the role of virtual vs. real in museums of today and of the future?

Participants recognized that virtual experiences should continue to be used as a means to generate interest in viewing the real thing (painting, artifact, specimen, etc.). Educators noted that online activities are useful tools for supplementing museum experiences while administrators pointed out that they do exclude some demographics. Curators discussed how the virtual experiences allow broad access to museum collections and noted diverse delivery methods are also beneficial. Marketing professionals felt that local history should be used to make connections in a larger context. Registrars focused on how virtual access to original artifacts might evolve in the future.

#3. What is the future of the economics of running and supporting a museum?

Partnerships were a common theme during this discussion. Those seated at the education table stressed alternative revenue streams such as facility rentals but noted the possible impacts on a museum’s programs and mission. Administrators discussed the need to diversify funding and reduce dependence on government support and grants. Curators talked about grass roots advocacy and strategies to actively demonstrate a museum’s value to the community it serves. Marketers highlighted the need to cultivate 20–40 year olds (“grow” future donors) and position museums as a gathering place with consistent, appealing programming. Registrars focused on the need for a clear, organized plan for any project that requires additional funds.

To close the session, the entire group discussed what had been learned. Attendees agreed that the current cultural majority will change over the next twenty-five years. Museums should continue to monitor and acknowledge the changes and adapt accordingly. It was also noted that young professionals will be essential to providing input and bridging the gap between past museum philosophies and expectations of future audiences. Overall, those that attended Group Think found the experience beneficial and asked for future opportunities, virtual or real, to continue these discussions. The afternoon provided food for thought on how we can be more effective in our jobs, improve our institutions, strengthen the field and communicate the value of our museum in the future.

While my year as PDC Chair is coming to a close, I will continue to be actively involved with the South Carolina Federation of Museums and other professional museum groups. I have organized a workshop called Leadership Training for Museums Professionals which will be held in Charleston this week (May 11) and I am looking forward to presenting a session at the 2011 American Association of Museums Annual Meeting in Houston. Later this year, I will also be present a session at the Southeastern Museums Conference in Greenville, SC. The Gibbes Museum of Art has been extremely supportive of my involvement in professional organizations and I hope to continue to represent the Gibbes, Charleston, and the South Carolina at museum conferences at the state, regional, and national levels.

Zinnia Willits, Director of Collections Administration, Gibbes Museum of Art

Montessori Day School Makes Monthly Visits to the Gibbes

Elise Detterbeck and students

The Montessori Day School is taking advantage of our guided school tours in a unique way. This group of students, ages six to twelve years old, is working with Museum Educator Elise Detterbeck in the galleries once a month during the school year. Rebecca Sailor, Associate Curator of Education, has had the opportunity to observe the students as they interact with and learn from Elise. After the school’s most recent visit, Rebecca talked with Elise about the curriculum. Their conversation is below.

Rebecca Sailor: There are so many approaches when working with kids in the galleries. What have you focused on with the Montessori School group?
Elise Detterbeck: I have chosen to organize the visits by looking at different genres of painting each visit. During their first visit, in October, we explored portraits (both miniature and full size), and talked about traditional versus modern (pose, attributes, props) and how they reflect the culture of the time in which they are painted. The Face Lift exhibition provided a great resource for exploring this theme.

In November, we focused on landscapes, once again starting with traditional and ending with modern. This time we talked about composition (background, foreground, midground and the horizon line), texture, point of view (bird’s eye, worm’s eye, Dutch angle, straight-on), as well as style (realistic, impressionistic, abstract), and subject matter.

This last visit, we talked about genre pictures (pictures that tell a story). This style of painting allowed us to revisit and review what we had discussed in visits one and two, since many genre scenes have the same elements as portraits and landscapes. In addition to the discussion, I gave the children a writing project based on one of our paintings.

As for the last three visits, I am discussing plans with the teachers. These children are extremely bright, really enthusiastic, and full of energy. What a joy! I’m thinking we should do some kind of hands-on activity with them to really cement what we’ve learned. One idea is to have them create an activity book starting with December’s writing activity, which they can add to each visit. I do want to encourage them to experiment with their own styles of drawing. They draw outside while waiting to come into the museum, so I think they would enjoy it.
Elise Detterbeck and students

Rebecca Sailor: What do you hope to accomplish with this class?
Elise Detterbeck: This is a wonderful opportunity to introduce students to the art of looking. My first question is always “What do you see?” These kids are so into it that they don’t even wait for me to ask the question anymore. My ultimate goal is to teach them how to look at a work of art and be able to understand it on multiple levels. For example, what is the creator trying to express, and how does the work reflect the artist and his or her view of the world? I also want the students to explore the possibilities of what the piece means to themselves, and how it relates to their own world view.

Rebecca Sailor: What do you feel are the benefits of monthly visits?
Elise Detterbeck: I worked in Chicago at the Terra Museum and we had some schools that came three times in a school year, but every month is even better. Multiple visits, with a small group like this, are so good because you can lay the foundation and then build on it, thus adding more and more each time you see them. And the joy of this Montessori group is that they remember so much between visits.

Rebecca Sailor: As their leader, what do you envision being your favorite part?
Elise Detterbeck: My favorite part is definitely the “ah-ha!” moment, when they use the looking strategies to figure out a work of art. They see things I’ve never seen, even after working with a piece so many times.

Rebecca Sailor: Is there anything else you want to say about your experience with the Montessori School?
Elise Detterbeck: I think my challenge is going to be to make each visit unique in its own way, and valuable to each student. That is why I want them to create something themselves, which will personalize the experience for every individual.

Rebecca Sailor, Associate Curator of Education, Gibbes Museum of Art

Intern Perspective: A Semester Inside the Gibbes

I’ll admit—when I applied for the Communications Internship at the Gibbes Museum of Art, I wasn’t sure what exactly I was getting into. I knew that I had loved the Gibbes since I was young and that its impact on me was, in fact, part of the reason I majored in Art History at the University of North Carolina. What I didn’t know was what communications for an art museum entailed. Upon arriving on my first day in August, however, I was immersed in the Museum Relations department, including event planning and communications at the Gibbes. From that day on I have loved the excitement of seeing our Facebook “likes” grow as I help Lasley Steever brainstorm for Twitter and Facebook posts, reading the countless articles I have clipped out for press portfolios, and seeing how the Gibbes gives back to the community in its responses to the many donation requests sent to Marla Loftus.

Ardeidae, 2010, by Stacy Lynn Waddell

Ardeidae, 2010, by Stacy Lynn Waddell (American, b. 1966). Singed and burned paper with watercolor; 96 x 51 inches. Courtesy of the artist. Photograph courtesy of Chris Ciccone.

Aside from daily tasks on the second floor, the opportunity to lend a hand at our special events hasn’t been too bad either. I have gotten to hear the speakers of the Women in Arts lecture series, attend the exhibition openings of Face Lift and The Evidence of Things Unseen, and talk to people who are as passionate about the arts and the Gibbes Museum as the people that work here, including the artist Stacy Lynn Waddell, a fellow UNC alumna and my personal favorite of the lecture series.

Remains of a Meal, 2000, by Jill Hooper

Remains of a Meal, 2000, by Jill Hooper (American, b. 1970). Oil on linen; 7 x 17 in. Museum Purchase with funds provided by a gift of the Charleston Fine Art Dealers Association (2000.026)

If you had asked me when I graduated in May what I would be doing in the Fall of 2010, I wouldn’t have said this (I probably would have told you I had no idea), but I am so grateful to have ended up in this particular internship at this particular museum. The opportunity to be a small part of the Gibbes as it grows provides excitement for me every Tuesday and Thursday, and Marla and Lasley have been very patient with an Art History major without much previous knowledge of Communications. The best part about this internship, though, is no matter how engrossed I am in articles, Facebook, or press releases, I can always take a step back and walk around the museum to see anything from Stacy Lynn Waddell’s elegantly scorched debutantes to Jill Hooper’s intricate and inviting ‘Remains of a Meal.’ Thanks to this internship and everyone at the Gibbes, I have had a fall season full of stimulation, good people, and great art.
Emily Morrison, Museum Relations Intern, Gibbes Museum of Art

Download an application for the Gibbes Museum of Art College Internship Program (PDF).

Bank of America Helps the Gibbes Make a Difference


North Charleston Elementary School visited the Gibbes Museum of Art on November 16th, 17th and 18th. The students were able to come for free because of the Title I Goes to the Gibbes grant funded by Bank of America. The grant provides free admission for any Title I school in the tri-county area. Elise Detterbeck, aka Ms. Elise, was one of the Museum Educators that led the fifth grade students on a guided tour of the galleries. The students graciously sent thank you notes after their visit and I wanted to share some with you. On behalf of the Gibbes, I would like to thank Bank of America for supporting such an outstanding program.

Rebecca Sailor, aka Ms. Rebecca, Associate Curator of Education, Gibbes Museum of Art

Color in Art Sparks Color in Verse

This post is the third in a series about the Poets in Schools writing program at Burke High School. Each semester, Burke High School students visit the Gibbes as part of this program. Last fall, the group found a symphony of colors to inspire their poetry in the exhibition “Brian Rutenberg: Tidesong.”

For color poems we use an abstract and ask the students what the colors mean to them. Is doesn’t have to correlate to anything—the color red can make you think of a green bicycle, or the color blue might make you think of the time you hit a home run in little league (in a Red Sox uniform). I ask them to not be afraid to get carried away: give the colors actions, characteristics, smells, fears, problems.

For inspiration I like to share color poems that I’ve written, or even better, those written by previous students—hearing peers break through the “color barrier” and find strange, unique associations can be helpful. I also like to share some lines from “Bold as Love” by Jimi Hendrix:

Anger he smiles, towering in shiny metallic purple armour/Queen Jealousy, envy waits behind him/Her fiery green gown sneers at the grassy ground

—Jonathan Sanchez, guest blogger and director of Poets in Schools at Burke High School

Pavilion, 2008 - 2009, by Brian Rutenberg

The following color poems were inspired by Pavilion, 2008 – 09, by Brian Rutenberg (American, b. 1965), oil on linen, courtesy of Jerald Melberg Gallery, Charlotte, NC.

Black is like the staircase I take to the psych ward.
Grey is like my heart that’s been ripped out and put back in.
Purple is like the cover I used to slip into my dreams.
Orange is the color my hair will be in two weeks.
Black is the color I love the most.
Blue makes me feel sick.
Is white even a color?
I feel that brown is the color of my skin and not black.
Peach isn’t the color of a peach.
—Khaliyah Stroud, 9th grader, Charity Scruggs’ class

The dark side makes me feel sad for Derrion Albert, beat to death in Chicago.
The middle colors make me go back in time to Easter Sunday;
My little Briana and Alexis, they were so cute in colorful polka dots.
The blue, purple, and green makes me want to
Swim away forever and drown in a sea of my own self-love.
I feel it, no, I feel you. I feel him.
Let me live beyond the beautiful yellowish orange that makes me
Feel the heat and violence of Sierra Leone, Africa.
Pink, a baby girl with a heart problem was just born, her mother has breast cancer.
Dark green makes me smell the sewer that Chris Tucker
and Jackie Chan went down in Rush Hour 3.
Red just made me laugh.
Purple is my best friend Jessika;
Raven is stuck in the middle mixed with all colors and emotions.
—O’Kellia Corbin, 9th grader, Charity Scruggs’ class

Read the previous entry by Jonathan Sanchez about his work with the program; and one student’s story inspired by Robert Henri’s painting, The Green Fan.

Art to Go Lands at Mt. Zion Elementary

The Gibbes Museum provides in-school art education through a program called Art to Go. We send teaching artists into the classroom to work on hands-on art projects inspired by the Gibbes Collection. This week, I took a trip to Mt. Zion Elementary School to visit artist Julie Weinberger and the first and second graders enrolled at the school.

This is the second year the Gibbes has brought Art to Go to Mt. Zion Elementary. Every Tuesday and Thursday, Ms. Weinberger works with the students in order to enrich their art education experience. During my visit, the first graders had a lesson on Leo Twiggs—a contemporary artist who paints using an innovative batik technique—and were busy creating simplified batik projects. The Second graders learned about Romare Bearden—best known for his richly textured collages—and were creating their own collaged artworks using the first letter of their first name.

In addition to viewing images from the collection in their classroom, the Art to Go program at Mt. Zion Elementary will bring the students to the museum to see the works by these artists (and more) in person! It is always a pleasure to observe the students at work in their own environment. Then, when I get to see them at the museum viewing the works they have studied it is even more enjoyable.

—Rebecca Sailor, Associate Curator of Education, Gibbes Museum of Art

Learn more about programs for K-12 students at the Gibbes.

A Girl Named Sally

This post is the second in a series about the Poets in Schools writing program at Burke High School. Read the previous entry by Jonathan Sanchez about his work with the program.

Below is a story written by a Burke High School student last fall, inspired by a painting at the Gibbes.

We ask the students to use their five senses and to always be specific. As former South Carolina poet laureate Archibald Rutledge once said: “A Cherokee rose, not just a rose. A swallowtail butterfly, not just a butterfly…Always the details.”

We also encourage weirdness. Good writing is often a little twisted. Nobody wants to read a novel about a Captain obsessed with a run-of-the-mill black whale.

—Jonathan Sanchez, guest blogger and director of Poets in Schools at Burke High School

The Green Fan (Girl of Toledo, Spain), 1912, by Robert Henri

Inspired by The Green Fan (Girl of Toledo, Spain) by Robert Henri.

Sally lives on King Street. It is hot and windy and she is mad. Her mom and dad are doctors. Sally is a model. Her dad is in New York and her mother is in Atlanta with her new husband.

She is also a nurse and right before this moment, she was running down the street from the police because she was protesting in front of Piggly Wiggly due to their high prices on milk.

In the background, there are cameras flashing, whispering, and the constant sounds of printers and chatter. The only thing she wants now is to be released from jail so she can go back home and watch “Phineas and Ferb.” Plus, the police station smells like mildew, bleach, and coffee.

In her left hand, there is a pack of blue Kool-Aid and a bus ticket. She looks frightened and tired because she was running, but now she is surrounded by police and they are about to take her Kool-Aid.

—Raven Ware, 9th grader, AP Academy, Charity Scruggs’ class

Poets in Schools Find Inspiration at the Gibbes

Poets in Schools students from Burke High School visit the Gibbes Museum.
Poets in Schools students from Burke High School visit the Gibbes Museum.

Last year, 50 students from Burke High School, many of whom had never been to the Gibbes or any other art museum, spilled out of a bus on a December morning, toting legal pads and pencils. Two hours later they left with a thick stack of stories and poems inspired by paintings and sculptures. Some wrote as much as five pages.

Getting students to write poetry about art (the term is ekphrastic poetry, but you have to find a pretty big dictionary to find it), involves more than just letting them loose in the museum and telling them to “use their imaginations.”

The first thing I tell kids is I don’t want them to try and come up with right answers. Don’t try and guess what the painting is about or what the artist thought. I want you to write something only you can write.

I usually like to start at a portrait. I ask a series of leading questions. What’s this girl’s name? Where does she live? What sort of smells are in the air? What’s she holding behind her back? What sounds? And name names: don’t just say she hears music, name a song. Of all the exercises I do, these kinds of stories are often some of the longest. It’s fine if kids get carried away and stop listening to my questions, that’s the point.

With a painting like The Green Fan by Robert Henri, the last thing I hope to see are stories about a fourteen-year-old who lives in Toledo, Spain. So much better to read Ariona Moten’s story about Benita from Argentina, on the run from police:

      “In her left hand, she holds small scissors to cut her hair so she can disguise herself.

I like to do Color Poems next, which are trickier. Sit most people in front of an abstract painting and ask them what the colors mean to them, you get a lot of stock answers—green grass and angry reds—even from children, who can be great, uninhibited poets. But if you can get them in the right mindset, maybe ask them to really stare at the painting till they see something they hadn’t seen before, then till they see something that’s not even there, you get lines like Jessika Washington’s:

      “Orange can be tricky like the seeds in a watermelon.

I’ve written with thousands of kids, and I have a lot of prompts ranging from bananas to Beethoven. But I got my start in writing workshops at the Gibbes, as a poet-in-residence in the Poets and Painters program. I’ve always loved the way the art and the architecture of the museum can instantly change a kid’s attitude towards his own work. Besides last year’s annual trip by Burke, which was led by poets Richard Garcia, Marjory Wentworth and myself, I bring five sessions of my summer writing camp to the museum. Sessions are a week long, and the Gibbes trip on Wednesdays are often the days heretofore reticent writers break out of their shells, or strong writers explode with creativity.

I believe in high expectations, and coming here with kids, it’s as though the collection is pushing the young talents to dig a little deeper. There’s a Picasso or Jasper Johns on the wall, but you’re here now, with your pencil, so what would you like to create? What’s something that only you can write?

Jonathan Sanchez, guest blogger

Jonathan Sanchez is the director of the Poets in Schools at Burke High School, a program of the Lowcountry Initiative for the Literary Arts (LILA), which is under the auspices of the College of Charleston. Each year, Jonathan and fellow writers lead workshops in the fall and compile a book of poems and stores. Volume four, So-Called Whisper, was just released and features eight paintings from the Gibbes which were on display last fall when the Burke students visited. Visit Blue Bicycle Books to learn more.

Toddler Tuesdays: A Parent’s Perspective

Toddler Tuesdays
Danielle Zorn (center) and her daughter, Kylie, paint fall leaves during Toddler Tuesdays.

If you come to my house on a typical morning you will probably find me asking my two year old daughter Kylie at least four to five times to please put on her shoes so we can get our day started. Not on Toddler Tuesday. All I have to do on Tuesday is casually mention that it’s time to head to the Charleston Library Society and shoes are on and she is out the door before I have time to blink! She loves the Gibbes Museum of Art’s Toddler Tuesdays and so do I!

Once we arrive at the Library Society both kids and adults settle in on giant bean bags and sit back and listen while we are taken on an exciting literary journey that help the kids explore the world of art as well as the world that surrounds them. They are often asked questions during the stories that help them explore and understand the morals and lessons of the books. Once the stories are read, the kids move on to their art projects. From painting to collage, pencil drawing to t-shirt dying, the art projects are varied and exciting. Whether taught by Annette Wanick or Sandy Young, the kids learn about basic art concepts such as color mixing, shape recognition, the use of texture and layering, and much more. Both Annette and Sandy are wonderful art educators that relate to and encourage creativity from their students. With such caring and knowledgeable teachers, it is no wonder that each week we come home with a new masterpiece to add to our collection as well as wonderful memories that will be remembered for a longtime to come.

I think that Kylie sums up her experiences here best when she leaves on Tuesdays saying, “that was really fun, mommy. I like coming here.” I agree.

Danielle Zorn, Member and Guest Blogger, The Gibbes Museum of Art

Toddler Tuesdays
Free and exclusive for Gibbes Museum and Charleston Library Society Members
Every Tuesday at the Charleston Library Society, 164 King St
10:15–11:00am in the Children’s Room; No reservations required
Led by Gibbes Women’s Council members Annette Wanick and Sandy Young
Questions? Call Rebecca Sailor at 843.722.2706 x41 or email rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org

« Prev - Next »