Archive for the 'Education' Category

The Gibbes Goes Global!

Last month, the Gibbes, along with 151 other museums of the world, began sharing its historic collection with a global audience through the Google Art Project. Officially launched on April 3, 2012, the Art Project is a unique collaboration between Google and the world’s most respected and acclaimed museums, enabling visitors to virtually explore museums, discover and view hundreds of artworks online at incredible zoom levels, and even create and share their own collection of masterpieces with a few clicks of a mouse. The Gibbes is one of 151 museums in the world participating in The Art Project, of which 29 are in the United States, and 2 are in the Southeast.

Gibbes logo on the Art Project screen in the Musee d'Orsay, Paris.

The Gibbes logo lights up the screen during the Google Art Project press conference at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

The Gibbes was invited to participate in this exciting new endeavor last August. We knew that the Google Art Project would offer an unprecedented international platform to show-off our collection so our goal was to feature some of the true treasures our collection has to offer. In order to demonstrate the long history and stellar quality of art in the South, we chose a diverse, cross-section of works to represent our collection, from easel paintings to miniature portraits, sculpture, and watercolors. Over forty works from the Gibbes Museum are highlighted on the site and more will be featured in the future.

For this phase of the project, we received final specifications for uploading our data and images of works of art in November 2011. Our team worked feverishly through December to finalize selections and format our data according to Google’s program specifications for the January deadline. Thanks to our social media expert and program and events manager, Lasley Steever, who promoted the vision and helped me coordinate many of the technical aspects of the project with Google representatives; Joyce Baker, curatorial assistant, who handled the formatting of image files; and our dedicated volunteer Rebecca Hiester, who assisted me and curator Pam Wall with the details of inputting and proofing data fields, we are now virtually in the company of the world’s most revered museums!

Angela Mack, Gibbes Executive Director, at the press conference in Chicago.

Gibbes Executive Director Angela Mack attended the Art Project press conference at The Art Institute, Chicago.

Launch parties were held in Chicago, Illinois, at The Art Institute, and in Paris, France, at the Musée d’Orsay, and were attended by museum representatives from all over the world including Gibbes staff members Angela Mack, executive director, and Lasley Steever, respectively.

I hope you will take time to peruse the works of art included in the Art Project. Visitors to the site can view works across museum collections, search by artist and medium, and zoom in to images to see fine details. Make your own gallery of favorites and share it with our online community via Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments field below.

—Sara Arnold, Curator of Collections, Gibbes Museum of Art

Summer Fundays

Campers create artist palettes.

Campers create artist palettes.

Summer Art Camp may just be my favorite part of my job. With six weeks of camp throughout June and July I have plenty of opportunities to be around the excited 4–12 year olds. I guess you could say it takes me back to my teaching days, and even though I am not the camp teacher I get to meet and greet the children and their parents and oversee the days. We always have returning campers that I have enjoyed watching grow not only physically but also as artists.

At some point during the week the campers are brought from Circular Congregational Church classrooms to the museum galleries. Watching the way they engage with the artwork, it is so different from our school group tours. The campers are in summer mode and typically are more talkative. They have become instant buddies with one another and their camp teacher seems to be thought of as more fun than their school teacher. At the end of each week, a mini exhibition is held in the classrooms so parents and friends can view the artwork that has been created. It is amazing to see all that is accomplished in five days.

Designing a Charleston Single House.

Designing a Charleston Single House.

Teaching camp for the first time this summer is our wonderful teaching artist, Chessie McGarity. She has worked with the Gibbes for a year on our Art to Go program and has taught our Painting the Masters class. She has a great line-up of camp session themes including Art of the Ancient World, Go Green, and Charleston Gardens and Wildlife. Each session will include its own unique aspects of visual art education.

Lucky for you we still have spots available in some of the sessions! Don’t miss the opportunity to register your child, grandchild, niece, nephew, or any child you think would benefit from a fun-filled week of art education with the Gibbes Museum of Art! Call 843-722-2706 x41 or email me rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org. I would love to get to know the special child you have in mind!

—Rebecca Sailor, Associate Curator of Education

You can also download a camp registration form from our website.

Career Day

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to my son’s second grade class at Blessed Sacrament School as part of their 2012 Career Day. I love talking about what I do and enjoy watching people of all ages consider (often for the first time) what goes on behind the scenes in a museum. As Director of Collections Administration, one of my primary responsibilities is care of the art collection. Whether art objects are on the walls, in storage, moving throughout the museum or traveling nationally or internationally, it is my job to make sure they are safe and cared for properly. It is a great job and I was excited to share my experiences with a lively group of 7 and 8 year olds. I decided to present a modified version of the Behind-the-Scenes Program that Greg Jenkins, Operations Director and Preparator, and I have been offering at the museum for several years. My collections road show included several examples of archival storage containers which prompted discussion on how we preserve (a new word for second graders) art work in a museum. I also brought several small, easily transportable works from the collection to review the proper way to handle art. Miniature portraits were a big hit with this group; the children were amazed by the extraordinary details miniature portraitists produced using water color paint (a medium familiar to second graders).

Showing the class a 19th century miniature portrait painted with water color on ivory

Showing the class a 19th-century miniature portrait painted with water color on ivory.

As part of the program, I also had a selection of reproduction miniature portraits. Each child chose one of these pieces to examine more closely. I explained that all works in the collection have a computer record. These records contain information about the object including its identification number, title, the name of the artist who created it, the object’s location in the museum, a thorough description of the object and notes on its physical condition. The process of recording and describing an object is referred to as cataloging; references to its condition are the condition report. I asked each child to describe their miniature portrait (what the sitter was wearing, hair color, background) and also look for any condition problems (scratches to the frame, loose glass, etc.) Cataloging and creating condition reports are a daily part of my job; this exercise gave the class a basic idea of the process. With their observant eyes, the children provided detailed descriptions of their miniatures and alerted me to many flaws on the frames of our reproduction collection.

BSS second graders Leo Sparacino, Lauren Nadeau and Maria Alexander consider their miniature portraits.

BSS second graders Leo Sparacino, Lauren Nadeau, and Maria Alexander consider their miniature portraits.

Throughout the program I encouraged questions and was both amused and amazed by the variety of queries. Below are a few of my favorites from the Blessed Sacrament second grade.

Q: What would happen if you went to get a painting [from a borrowing institution] and took the wrong one home? (This question was in response to my description of outgoing loans and the fact that I occasionally travel with works from our collection when they are borrowed by other museums.)

A: Great question! If I took home the wrong painting I would probably be in big trouble because it would mean I was not paying attention. Every painting in the Gibbes collection has its own individual identification number called an accession number. The accession number can be found directly on each painting or work on paper. When retrieving a painting from a borrowing institution I have images of the painting as well as the accession number to make certain I take the correct work of art!

Q: Do you run the whole museum? Do you have any help or do you take care of all 10,000 works by yourself?

A: More good questions! I most certainly do not run the entire museum. We have thirteen full-time staff members at the Gibbes, several part-time employees and multitudes of dedicated volunteers and auxiliary groups. All of these individuals form “the Gibbes” and do everything from manage the staff to raise funds for museum operations, create exhibitions and educational programs, organize and manage museum events, keep the building and artwork secure, process museum memberships, oversee finances, lead group tours and much, much more! The Gibbes Museum is fortunate to have such a great team.

The short answer to the second question is yes, I do have help taking care of the art collection! While I oversee the details surrounding care and movement of the objects, there are other members of the curatorial, collections and security staff that help out. For example, Greg Jenkins, our long time museum preparator, hangs all the works in the galleries and makes sure that they are secure on the walls. Our curators contribute to the care of artwork by thoroughly researching the provenance of each piece and sharing that information with the public. They also choose what works will be hung in the exhibitions and decide how they will be arranged, keeping in mind the different sizes and types of objects and how they fit together. And of course our security team plays a huge role in helping me care for our collection. You can find the security crew in the galleries and behind-the-scenes keeping a watchful eye on the artwork.

Q: Do you take care of artwork like you take care of your children?

A: My answer to this is “not exactly.” However, there are similarities in caring for artwork and caring for children. As a parent, it is my responsibility to know where my children are and who is caring for them. Similarly, as Director of Collections Administration, I need to know where the artwork is (what gallery, what storage location, what other venue) and keep track of any location changes. As a parent I make sure that my children are always in a safe environment (at home, at school, with friends). Likewise, at work I constantly monitor the environment in which we exhibit and store the art collection. Museums maintain specific temperature, humidity and light levels to prolong the life of an object. Finally, when my children take a trip, I make sure they are prepared to travel, pack their suitcases and arrange details of how our family will get to our destination. Similarly, when artwork leaves the museum, I oversee all the details regarding packing and transportation to its destination. While I do not pack a suitcase for a painting going out on loan, I do make certain that it is clean, fit for travel, has an appropriate shipping container and is looking its best!

An example of a miniature portrait case which contains a lock of the sitter’s hair.

An example of a miniature portrait case, which contains a lock of the sitter’s hair.

Q: Have you ever seen a miniature portrait with pet hair in the back of the case?

A: This question arose after an extensive discussion of miniature portraits and the surprises that are often found on the backs of miniature cases. I brought a miniature from the museum’s collection that had a lock of the sitter’s hair in a special compartment on the back of the case. This sentimental nineteenth century tradition fascinated the children and generated much speculation as to why people did this. Regarding the question about pet hair, I have seen miniature portraits of animals (we have a lovely miniature by Leila Waring of her cat Dick) but have not come across one that contained a lock of the pet’s hair. I will keep an eye out!

Dick, 1910, by Leila Waring (American 1876–1964). 2008.005.0001

Dick, 1910, by Leila Waring (American 1876–1964). 2008.005.0001

Q: Why don’t you have enough space to show all the paintings in the collection?

A: I informed the second graders that at present, the Gibbes is only able to display about 2-4% of the permanent collection. The reason we cannot exhibit more works is that we are simply out of space. The existing museum building was constructed in 1905 when the art collection contained significantly fewer works. While more gallery space was added over the years the current layout can only accommodate a certain number of works. We rotate objects every six months to give the public a wider view of the depth and breadth of the permanent collection but long for more exhibition space. Thankfully, the Gibbes is headed for a major building renovation and expansion that will finally provide more room to exhibit and store the collection! We are excited to share a larger number of objects from the Gibbes collection once the renovation is complete. Stay tuned for future posts on this exciting project!

Q: Do you work on the weekends?

A: This question made me laugh but the class felt it was extremely important. No, I do not generally work on the weekends. However, there are occasions when a large exhibition installation with a tight schedule necessitates weekend hours to finish on time. There are also occasions where incoming art shipments must occur on a weekend due to the lenders schedule, the shipping route or the numbers and size of crated works. I am always front and center (along with Greg Jenkins) for those weekend deliveries.

Speaking at the Blessed Sacrament Career Day was a great experience. The children were genuinely interested in my job at the Gibbes and their enthusiasm was infectious. Describing your daily work to children and fielding their many questions is a great way to gain perspective on the importance of what we as museum professionals accomplish each day and why we do it. Many of the children told me I had the coolest job in the world. Without hesitation, I have to agree.

Zinnia Willits, Director of Collections Administration

“EYE SPY” Something Fun in the Classroom

When I was asked to write a post for the Gibbes Museum’s blog I was very excited. It’s fun to be able to share the terrific pilot project I am doing called ”EYE SPY.” This new program teaches art history to students in local elementary schools using the Gibbes collection.

Debby Passo in the classroom at St. Andrew's Math and Science Elementary School.

I moved to Charleston from Ohio three years ago and decided I wanted to bring a project into the Charleston schools drawing from my experience as an art history minor in college. I approached the Gibbes and worked with Rebecca Sailor, Associate Curator of Education, and Elise Detterbeck, a Museum Educator, for over a year to launch EYE SPY. I am grateful to both ladies, especially to Rebecca for her hard work to secure a grant from the C. Louis Meyer Family Foundation which provides funding for us to partner with two schools this year. Elise teaches at Springfield Elementary School, and I work at St. Andrews Math and Science Elementary School with a wonderful art teacher named Valerie Garrison. My approach is to compare and contrast works of art from the Gibbes with the artworks of some of the most recognized masters of the 20th century, which was my emphasis in college.

I visit the second and third grade art classrooms once a month. The importance of having an art teacher who is enthusiastic and supportive of this project is essential. For this first year, Mrs. Garrison and I selected a theme of famous artists’ birthdays. In the classroom, Mrs. Garrison displays many pictures of iconic artworks so it has been fun to use these in our project. Each month I select one or two masters who have a birthday that month. I then pick an artist from the collection of the Gibbes Museum and help the students to identify some similarities and differences between the two artists’ works. I emphasize the fundamental elements of art, such as basic shapes, lines, colors, and styles. The goal is for students begin to appreciate and talk about the art. Fortunately, the creative hands-on aspect of the class is left up to Mrs. Garrison.

This has been wonderful for both the students and me. I spend a great deal of time preparing because I am still learning about our treasured artworks in the Gibbes Museum. The reward—after only a few months—is encouraging a dialogue between the students, and expanding their world of discovery. It is so exciting to see their hands go up to share an idea or a question. They are incredibly focused on each piece of art and they want to know the backgrounds of the artists—mostly when and where they were born and how old they were when they died. They remember previous works that we have studied, and they bring these ideas into our discussions. I have introduced the works of Picasso, Matisse, Cézanne, Monet, and Pollock, comparing them to works by Jonathan Green, Merton Simpson, Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, and William Halsey. Sometimes I forget that these students are only second and third graders with their remarkable comments and pertinent thoughts. It was a nice reminder to me of their ages when after only one class they wanted to know if I had met any of these artists—imagine how old they must think I really am!

I am looking forward to the remainder of the school year. The time goes by so quickly because we are so engaged in discussion and the groups stay very attentive. I feel so fortunate to be able share my love of art history with these students and in return I am the one being rewarded by their enthusiasm. They are looking forward to their visit to the Gibbes, which is funded by the grant. Some of these students have never been to a museum and I cannot wait to see their faces when they see some of the paintings in person that we have discussed in class. Working with the museum, I hope to expand this pilot program to reach more students with the aid of additional funding and volunteers. There is nothing more thrilling than watching the smiles on the faces of these students as they explore the grand world of art.

Debby Passo, museum educator and guest blogger

To learn more about EYE SPY and other in-school programs organized by the Gibbes Museum of Art, please contact Associate Curator of Education Rebecca Sailor at rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org or 843.722.2706 x41.

Hunley Park Elementary Adds Scenic Views for Charleston Marathoners

Mrs. Coyle’s fourth grade art classes at Hunley Park Elementary School have been on a “Grand Tour” in true Charlestonian fashion, visiting Greece, Italy, Egypt, Japan, and Africa to learn about the art and culture of these far away lands. After touring the world, we decided to construct our own globe. Over the past sixteen weeks, eighty fourth graders have constructed a paper-mache globe that is six feet in diameter!

I am very proud and impressed with how hard these students worked, and how enthusiastic they were about the project. Every day, they come to class eager to get to work. I have enjoyed working with Mrs. Coyle and her students immensely. I hope they have learned half as much from me as I have from them.

The globe will be on display January 13 – 15 along the course of the Charleston Marathon, which benefits the Youth Endowment for the Arts. I could have not done this project without the support of the teachers and parents of Hunley Park Elementary School. Thank you so much!!

—Chessie McGarity, Gibbes Museum Teaching Artist and guest blogger

Going Back to School: The College of Charleston at the Gibbes

This Fall, the Gibbes Museum was the host site for the College of Charleston class for Art History/Studio Art (340/335), on Wednesdays from 1:15 to 4:00. Gibbes Fellows and Museum Educators were offered the opportunity to audit the class alongside the college students. I was excited to take advantage of the access to professors Marion Mazzone and John Hull, but knew that “going back to school” would present me with multiple challenges. I felt prepared for the art history content, however the in-gallery drawing assignments were very intimidating. Having never participated in a studio art class, I found the sketching of art works in the museum difficult at first. However, I persevered, and with the help of Professor Hull, I discovered I could actually draw. Through this experience, I developed a new appreciation for composition and all the elements that contribute to a finished work of art.

The Source, 1914, by Edward Middleton Manigault

As a class, we were able to view many art objects from the museums archives, as well as those on display in the galleries. The art-historical insight that Professor Mazzone shared about often unseen works of art in the museum’s collection was extremely enlightening and useful to me as a museum educator. I began to relate to works of art that I had previously passed by in my tours. Of particular interest was The Source, by Edward Middleton Manigault, located in the main hallway on the first floor. I had previously avoided the dark and foreboding scene, but with Professor Mazzone’s help I came to appreciate the artist’s use of color—specifically, the blending of various shade of blues and greens throughout the painting. Manigault’s choice of subject matter reflects back to the classical period of art and the influences of Greek mythology. I realized how lucky we are to have this artist’s work at the Gibbes, because his works are relatively few and highly esteemed.

I am already looking forward to auditing another College of Charleston art class in the future, perhaps to test some of my new found skills.

Annette Wanick, Gibbes museum educator and guest blogger

Learn about other continuing education classes at the Gibbes Museum on our website calendar.

Community Days for Everyone

Cassandra Whiteside creates her own artwork.

Cassandra Whiteside creates her own artwork. Photo by Julia Lynn

As the Associate Curator of Education, Community Days are a highlight of my job. I organize these family-friendly, free days four times a year. But Community Days are not just for families. I love seeing young adults or elderly couples walking through the galleries. It warms my heart to think that by making the day free and accessible, new visitors may walk through our doors. I hear much too often that parents are scared to bring their children to an art museum for fear that they will talk too loud or touch something. My hope is that Community Days help everyone realize museums can be fun for all ages.

A young artist at work in the galleries.

A young artist at work in the galleries.

A volunteer helps with face painting activities.

A volunteer helps with face painting activities.

Our collection is so important to Southern culture and history. We make it a priority to provide opportunities for visitors to enjoy our galleries without a fee. This year we are able to do so with the help of Roper St. Francis Healthcare, and in past years we had the support of the Junior League of Charleston. Both the Junior League and Roper have helped us not only financially, but as importantly, by supplying wonderful volunteers to help me staff these days. For example, the volunteers act as ambassadors for the museum by meeting and greeting visitors and managing the hands-on art activities.

A choir from Blessed Sacrament School sings carols in the Rotunda gallery.

A choir from Blessed Sacrament School sings carols in the Rotunda gallery.

I strive to have music or dance performances at each event. In the past we have had groups such as local church and school choirs, a Charleston Academy of Music student, a local ballet troupe, and even an up-and-coming teen rock band! Roper physician Dr. Johnny Weeks will perform at this Saturday’s event. Yes, doctors are multi-talented and enjoy the arts, too!

The 3 Dudes on the front steps of the Gibbes.

The 3 Dudes perform on the front steps of the museum.

I like to think that Community Day visitors will return for more artistic inspiration down the road. Maybe they will become members, bring a friend the next time, or just reflect on an artwork that brings back good memories. We are Charleston’s only visual art museum. We belong to this community and it is my job to make our galleries accessible to everyone… at least four times a year!

A family explores the galleries together.

A family explores the galleries together.

I hope you will join us for an upcoming Community Day on December 10, February 25, or April 21, from 10am – 1pm.

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

Making Time for Art

The watercolor studio

Instructor Mary Lou Bloise (center) shares information with students.

I saw an announcement in the Post and Courier about a watercolor class at the studio of Mary Lou Bloise offered by the Gibbes Museum of Art. The notice intrigued me. I hadn’t had much experience with watercolor except for a brief six-week period on a cruise ship, offered as an enrichment program while at sea. I enjoyed the experience and upon my return to Charleston, I rushed to purchase art paper, watercolors, brushes, and books. I even bought a DVD with watercolor instructions, but as time passed, I never opened my supplies. My enthusiasm for this art medium had been replaced with day-to-day busyness and my art supplies sat on a shelf. I decided to sign up for the classes offered by the Gibbes. I was excited to reunite with my old friend watercolor! The day before the first class I drove to the location to be certain I knew exactly where it was and how long it would take me to get there. I took my art supplies off the shelf, placed them in a canvas bag, and I was ready to start.

When I arrived for the first class, I was greeted by the warm, smiling, friendly face of the instructor Mary Lou Bloise. Her inviting demeanor made me feel at home. The space was set up as an artist’s studio and her love of art infused the room. There were five students in the group and Mary Lou gently guided us. My earlier watercolor experience came back to me, although it was very elementary, and I was open and willing to learn more.

The first lesson was about brush strokes. We were instructed only to use the primary colors. As I began to fill my page with red, yellow, and blue streaks and various sized lines, Mary Lou offered suggestions on how to hold the brush, the amount of water to use, and how to control the color pigment. As I examined my finished page of rainbow colored stripes, lines, and streaks, I felt reconnected with my long lost friend – water coloring! That rainbow effect was my promise of future creations, which lay within my mind and hand.

Apple Study

An apple study in watercolor.

Arriving for the second class, I saw apples in the center of the worktable. It was at this point I realized we were going to actually paint an object! I was thrilled! But before I could take brush to paper, our instructor gave a brief explanation of how to look for various colors and shadows on the apples. I carefully examined my chosen apple discovering amazing different shades of red, yellow, and a hint of green now and then. Mary Lou also pointed out how the light affected the objects. I will never view a fruit or vegetable in the same manner after discovering just how many colors are present in a “red” apple.

It took me three attempts to achieve the correct shape of my apple. The first try looked more like a red pumpkin but on the third attempt, I was pleased with the shape and coloring of my creation. At break time the group examined and chatted about each other’s work. It was interesting to see how others used different color intensity. I must admit, their apple stems were superior to mine!

Papaya with flower.

Jeannette's painting of a papaya with an orange flower.

To prepare for our next class, the group was asked to bring in a vegetable or fruit to use as a subject to paint. I chose to bring a papaya cut in half. The instructor placed complementary colored flowers beside my papaya. The lesson focused on composition and painting colors in relation to each other. I enjoyed manipulating the shape of the papaya as I painted. I discovered that if I made a mistake, I could correct it or go in a different direction. I call this a happy accident because I actually ended up with a better product than I had originally conceived.

Sadly, the last lesson day arrived quickly. Our instructor told the class to take out our T-squares and use a pencil to place lines at the edge of our paper to accommodate for the overhang of a mat if it was framed. Mary Lou had arranged a cobalt blue vase holding a purple flower, placed on a slab of marble. I felt totally comfortable as I began painting strokes to create the vase. It came together well, as did the stem and purple flower. I completed my painting by adding the gray and pink veined marble on which the vase rested.

Jeannette's painting of a still life with blue vase and purple flower

Jeannette's painting of the still life with blue vase and purple flower.

I enjoyed the classes very much, and I have a newfound appreciation for the accomplished artist. It takes a lot of practice to refine brush strokes and time to achieve the desired color by using the right amount of water for the desired hue. I look at things differently now, noticing the varied colors and shading. I think my watercolor work shall achieve satisfaction and not perfection—it is simpler and more enjoyable that way.

Jeannette prepping her paper before beginning her composition.

Jeannette Sink, watercolor student and guest blogger

A second session of Basic Watercolor with Artist Mary Lou Bloise begins next Tuesday, October 18. Contact Rebecca Sailor at rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org if you would like to register.

The Impact of Art: Peace and Healing after the 9/11 Attacks

Porter-Gaud School Student Mural

Ten years ago, I was the Lower School art teacher at Porter-Gaud School when our country was attacked on September 11, 2001. My first class period that day was free so I had stopped by our middle school history teacher’s classroom to ask him about that night’s football game. The teacher was reading the day’s announcements while the news was being shown on TV. I saw a plane crash into one of the Twin Towers and could not believe what I was watching—I thought that maybe there was a movie being shown. I brought the teacher’s attention to what I was seeing and everyone grew quiet. We quickly knew something unimaginable was happening in New York City.

I hurried back to my classroom and tried to call my husband. He was supposed to be in New York that day for a meeting in one of the Twin Towers, but the meeting had been changed at the last minute, and he was on his way to Philadelphia. When I finally heard from him, he told me that all of Philadelphia had been shut down, and people were told to go home. There was fear that Philadelphia would also be attacked.

Porter-Gaud School Students at Work

Soon, it was time for my first class of the day to arrive. Some of the children had heard what happened, while some of the little ones had no idea. I tried to teach class as usual, but it was obvious then and in the days that followed, that our lives had been changed forever. The children were drawing pictures of planes crashing into the Twin Towers and of fires. I wanted to turn this tragedy into a positive learning experience by having the children concentrate on what was so amazing about our country. We decided to create a mural to send to the people of New York City, and started brainstorming about our beautiful America and how we could express our feelings through our drawings. We talked about our National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, patriotism, freedom, the bald eagle, and the American flag. We discussed how our country was coming together to help the people of New York and how everyone was showing their patriotism by flying the American flag. With all of this information the children started their drawings. The images were amazing. They drew pictures of firemen, policemen, other emergency workers, and even the rescue dogs. I knew from some of these drawings that they had seen the news. Pictures of children standing together saying the pledge of allegiance to the flag with their hands over their hearts were so wonderful. These images show the sense of unity our country experienced after 9/11 as seen by my students.

Porter-Gaud School Student Mural, Pledge of Allegiance detail

Working together, the students picked their favorite pictures to be transferred onto a large canvas. I enlarged their drawings onto the canvas and added hearts all along the border to finish the design. Once the drawing was complete, we were ready to paint. The children had a wonderful time working on the mural together and the final work shows the colorful, symbolic imagery they so beautifully created. Letters written by some of the fourth graders were added onto the hearts as a final touch. When the mural was complete and dry, I put grommets across the top so it could be easily hung. I mailed our tribute off to Mayor Giuliani’s office in New York City, and even though I did not know what happened to the mural, we felt good that we had sent our thoughts and prayers to the people of New York.

Porter-Gaud School Student Mural, heart detail

Several years later I was living in New York City when I received an email from Adina Langer at the 9/11 Memorial Museum wanting to know if I knew anything about a mural from Porter-Gaud School. Of course I said yes! Ms. Langer said that our mural had hung in Pier 94 where the victims’ families had come for help. After the center was closed, the mural was rolled up and placed in a closet. An electrician found the mural and gave it to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Ms. Langer was happy to find out how our mural was created and has kept me posted on the progress of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

Porter-Gaud School Student Mural, Twin Tower detail

This past spring, I received another email about our mural. This time I learned that a book was being published about the artwork sent to New York after 9/11, which included our mural. The book is called “Art for Heart” and all of the proceeds will go to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. It is so wonderful that our gift of love, prayers, and support that we sent to lift the spirits of the people of New York is going to live on and be accessible to so many.

Today, my husband and I are back in Charleston, and I have also returned to Porter-Gaud School. The children who were the first and second graders ten years ago are now juniors and seniors. It is wonderful being back home!

Laura Orvin, Administrative Assistant to the Head of School at Porter-Gaud and guest blogger

Editors Note: As we begin National Arts in Education Week, this story of how an art project was used to engage students in a discussion about real-world events is especially poignant. The Gibbes Museum works with Tri-County schools to provide in-school and on-site opportunities for students and teachers to make art and learn about the history of art through our collection. We are grateful to the teachers, museum educators and artists who share their expertise and talents with our youth.

A version of this story was reported in the Post & Courier on August 30, 2011.

What I Did this Summer—Becca Goes to Camp

I’ve been volunteering with curator Sara Arnold for a couple of years, and I’ve been able to work on a variety of interesting projects. I have helped document the Alfred Hutty print inventory, update catalogue records for publication on the museum’s website, research French miniature painters in America for the In Search of Julien Hudson exhibit, write information sheets for docent training, along with many other tasks around the curatorial department. When Sara asked if I would be interested in working with the summer art camp, I readily agreed and looked forward to seeing kids express their creativity and learn more about the fabulous collection at the Gibbes. The campers certainly didn’t disappoint.

Campers create artist palettes.   Creating a miniature portrait.

Above: Campers created artist palettes and miniature portraits.

The first session was all about portraiture, and my favorite project was creating miniature “paintings.” While visiting the galleries, the campers were amazed to see the miniature portrait collection, and were even more surprised to learn that artists used single-hair brushes to complete such small masterpieces. We used Shrinky Dinks paper and markers (a much easier tool!) to draw small portraits, and after they “cooked” they were tiny! The second session focused on Charleston artists, and we were fortunate to have local painter Tate Nation visit our class and talk about his inspiration and process.

Tate Nation visits with campers.
Above: Tate Nation visited with campers.

The last session covered the unique features of Charleston architecture, and each camper created a maquette of a Charleston single house, complete with piazzas (or porches) and a landscaped garden. Even during these hectic mornings—gluing shingles, cutting out windows, and designing yards—I could not help but think about how this magical city has intrigued artists for years, and how fortunate it is that we have preserved our history for future generations to enjoy. I was reminded of my time looking at Alfred Hutty’s Charleston prints—I could recognize the scenes he depicted because many of those buildings and gates are still here.

Adding a red metal roof.   Designing a Charleston Single House.

Above: Campers designed Charleston Single Houses.

Becca Hiester, Volunteer, Gibbes Museum of Art

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