Whew! It is such a relief to see a score fly out the door and into the arms of the orchestra!!
Last night I met with Sandra of Chamber Music Charleston and had a cursory read through of The Little Match Girl score. I am happy to say that two of my favorite themes belong to the cello. Cellists have always had a special place in my life, beginning with Ward Williams who broke my heart every time he played Julie-O by the Turtle Island String Quartet. The piece is so fascinatingly joyful and danceable and I have been in love with the cello ever since. The dancing roast in our performance is dedicated to Ward Williams, who used to play in Charleston with the band Jump Little Children.
Tim O’Malley of Chamber Music Charleston. Photo by Tom McCorkle
The other cello theme represents the Mother figure in the Match Girl story. My boyfriend’s grandmother is a cellist and quite talented. After meeting her, I decided that only the rich, wise and hauntingly beautiful voice of the cello could represent the Motherly presence that so comforts the match girl. We are so excited to hear Tim O’Malley give voice to these two contrasting characters at the performance on November 16th! The cello is such an incredible instrument with a range of emotion, and diversity of character. I look forward to sharing my favorite instrument with you all at the Circular Church—make sure to meet Tim and his cello afterwards at the Gibbes!
—Laura Ball, composer and guest blogger
The Gibbes Museum is pleased to present a special performance of The Little Match Girl with Laura Ball, the Charleston Dance Institute, and Chamber Music of Charleston.
The performance will be held across the street from the museum at the Circular Congregational Church. Following the performance, the audience is invited to the museum for a meet and greet with the performers, and to see the exhibitions on view.
Working with Rebecca Sailor, curator of education, at the Gibbes Summer Art Camp has been a unique experience that has allowed me to see many aspects and details that go into working with a prominent local art museum. As the Education Department intern, I’ve had the opportunity to work with different groups of children each week as they engage their creativity through various art mediums and styles.
Intern Caroline Haygood helps campers ages 4 – 7 explore Modern Art styles and techniques.
It is particularly fun for me to be able to work with new groups of campers each week. I have spent a significant amount of time with children, from interning as a third-grade teaching assistant, to being a full time nanny each summer. Working with children in the early developmental stage can be challenging, but extremely rewarding. There is a great deal to learn from young children who are just beginning to exercise their imaginative minds, and helping out in the Gibbes Art Camp has certainly been an ideal spot for me. I enjoy watching the transition from aimless doodling at the beginning of the week to thoughtful projects towards the end of the session— especially in the 4 to 6 year-old age group. During each session, children learn to take their time and to follow instructions, as well as how to use different mediums, textures, and styles to convey their creative ideas.
I appreciate the way the Gibbes structures their sessions. Our first session taught printmaking, and was a neat way to understand how art can be reproduced many times over. The next session, focusing on modern art, has also been incredibly interesting as the children learned to paint portraits like Mary Whyte, or attempted marble splatter paintings like Jackson Pollack. I look forward to our last sessions, which will examine Charleston’s rich history and connection to the beautiful sea landscape.
Camp Instructor, Kristen Solecki, talks with campers about color palettes.
I have thoroughly admired the guidance of our camp teacher, Kristen Solecki. She is not only a successful local artist, but also an experienced teacher who continually inspires the children to work to their best ability and seek meaning in their art. Her artistic talent and knowledge provide a great example for the children, and she helps them recognize that their artwork can be appreciated and admired.
My favorite part of working with the Gibbes Summer Art Camp is our weekly trip to tour the museum galleries. The campers spend each week learning about new artists, such as Jasper Johns and Jackson Pollock. They are enthusiastic about the chance to view works of art in the styles they’ve been emulating in the classroom. As an adult, I am inspired to see young children gaining an appreciation for art through outlets like the Gibbes Summer Art Camp. So many young people do not have the opportunity to gain insight into their local artists and exhibits, and the Gibbes has made that possible for these campers.
Parents and campers enjoy an Art Show at week’s end.
Although it is just three hours each morning, by the end of the week the children have incredible displays of all the artwork they have made. I love the way the children’s’ faces light up at the art show on Fridays when they proudly get to reveal to their parents the many projects they’ve worked on throughout the week.
—Caroline Hagood, Education Department summer intern and guest blogger
Society 1858′s Habanero Rhythm event packed the house.
When I began working at the Gibbes Museum of Art in October 2012, I quickly realized that as an employee, a lot of different hats are to be worn. We are a non-profit after all! Currently, I am the events and rental coordinator for the museum, and I assist in coordinating in-house events and all outside rentals. The Gibbes is such a popular venue with requests ranging from small, intimate gatherings such as cocktail parties, dinners, and business meetings to large wedding receptions, ceremonies, and corporate events. For more than a century, the Gibbes Museum of Art has been a beacon for the visual arts in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina.
The Gibbes consists of a small staff of approximately 20 full- and part-time employees, and at one point or another, they have all assisted in planning a rental. Between our curatorial staff, development team, marketing group, facility manager, and security staff, rentals planned at the Gibbes would not be perfectly executed without the help of my colleagues. We rely on each other to make sure each client is pleased with their Gibbes experience, not only as a museum, but also as a venue.
‘Tis the Season to get Married
Working at the Gibbes has given me an abundant amount of first-hand experiences when planning the bride’s big day. One of my favorite rentals that took place at the Gibbes was Catlin and Chris Whiteside’s wedding reception. Caitlin, an event planner at Calder Clark, was, as you can imagine, highly organized and knew exactly what she wanted. Her husband Chris, aka Whitey, was a joy to be around and brought laughter to every conversation.
A gorgeous wedding ceremony in the Gibbes Museum Rotunda gallery.
Caitlin and Chris hold special memories of the Gibbes as their first date took place in the Gibbes Courtyard, so where better a place to have their reception. The months of planning for their special day came together on Saturday, February 23. Every detail was just as Caitlin had planned, including the miniature putting green built under a side tent as a surprise for Chris. The bride and groom were happy to be married and celebrating with their closest friends and family, even with the torrential downpours that happened that evening.
As Caitlin and Chris were getting ready for their send off, soaking wet shoes and all, they kindly requested a pizza be ordered and sent to their room at Charleston Place Hotel. I got an obvious laugh out of this request, but I was more than happy to make the call to Domino’s. I mean who wouldn’t want to end their wedding night with a hot pizza delivery to your suite?
A Hard Days Night
Being able to connect with different businesses through various Gibbes’ rentals has provided me a large professional and social network. Different companies throughout the nation utilize the Gibbes as a venue for dinners, holiday parties, receptions, etc. Some of these corporate rentals have brought the Gibbes new members. Recently, we were fortunate to host Carriage Properties, a longtime supporter of the Gibbes. They held a large party attended by more than 300 people that included clients and friends.
A sponsor event during the Family Circle Cup, featuring the Lee Brothers, in the Gibbes Courtyard.
The doors could not have opened any sooner as guests waited patiently to enter the Gibbes. Carriage Properties and Gibbes’ guests filed in for the mix and mingle. New homeowners to Charleston were pleased to have an opportunity to visit the museum and learn about its many programs and events. And, many people, longtime Charlestonians had not visited the museum in a while and enjoyed their return.
A Historic Venue
The Gibbes Museum of Art is the Lowcountry’s leading cultural institution, the premier collection of art focusing on the American South, a dynamic resource for visual learning, and one of Charleston’s most beloved and distinguished landmarks. The exceptional education programs at the Gibbes preserves and promotes the art of Charleston and the American South. Between art lectures, performances, and fundraisers, the Gibbes calendar has a busy event schedule. Along with the Gibbes events are the booming rentals which bring in an additional 700 guests per month and serve as an additional revenue source.
The Art of Design luncheon and lecture in the Gibbes Courtyard.
I hope you will consider the Gibbes Museum as a rental for your next event. I am always available to assist in your planning needs. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Jena Clem, Events & Rental Coordinator, Gibbes Museum of Art
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
“So… what exactly is exciting about a museum?” I get that question a lot when I try to explain to people what keeps us on our toes here at the Gibbes Museum. I explain that several factors make the Gibbes a fun place to visit and become involved with; a relevant and beautiful permanent collection, new and thought provoking exhibitions, and exciting programs and events. All of these elements support one another, but our programming is especially inspired by the art displayed within these walls. The Gibbes is constantly planning new events for the community to become involved with, the most recent being the Art With a Twist event series.
Executive Director Angela Mack gave a lunchtime lecture on Impressionism and Charleston in January.
Launched in the fall of 2012, Art With a Twist is a series of events aimed at introducing new and varied experiences for all members of the community. The series kicked-off in November with a wine tasting and lecture by Mike Cohen, owner of Goat. Sheep. Cow. With close to 100 visitors in attendance, guests were in for a treat as Cohen explained the art and design behind wine labels and artistic depictions of wine consumption through the ages. A few weeks later in December, the Lower King Street Antique Stroll led visitors on tours of several beautiful antique shops along King Street. These tours were led by interior designer Kathleen Rivers, and fine and decorative art appraisers Elizabeth Ryan and George Reed. Having a chance to explore these shops with such knowledgeable tour guides, made for a wonderful and exciting evening! To close out January, nearly 80 guests enjoyed a catered lunchtime lecture from Executive Director Angela Mack who discussed Impressionism and Charleston. In February, creating a new twist on the idea of a field trip, a group of 40 participants visited the stunning Impressionism exhibition now on view at the Columbia Museum of Art, Impressionism from Monet to Matisse. The day concluded with a lovely lunch at the Palmetto Club just down the street.
Gibbes on the Go traveled to the Columbia Museum of Art for a curator-led tour of their Impressionism exhibition.
The key to any series of successful programming is to appeal to a broad audience and give people opportunities to experience something they might not otherwise be able to plan on their own. Each Art with a Twist program was planned to introduce new topics not previously discussed or experienced at the Gibbes Museum, and to bring in those within the community who may not have much prior connection with the museum. Two more programs are still ahead for this spring, a Jazz lecture and performance on April 11 and a lunchtime lecture on mixing antique and contemporary furnishings with author Susan Sully on May 20. More events are in the works for the summer and fall, including celebrity cookbook author Alex Hitz and a holiday children’s program in November. Keep checking back to the Gibbes’ calendar page for updates and to purchase tickets to any of these events.
—Amanda Breen, Membership Coordinator, Gibbes Museum of Art
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 summer I had the great opportunity to be involved with PR and marketing at the Gibbes Museum of Art. I’ve known for time that my interest in art would lead me to the art management realm. However, up until I started this internship, this was based more on theory than experience. I had no idea what was involved in the promotion, preservation, and upkeep of an art collection and a museum. As a student of art history with no formal studies in management, it is easy to focus solely on the interpretation and understanding of art and somewhat forget about the homes in which these objects are housed. And that is what the Gibbes feels like for the Charleston and Lowcountry area—a home for art that celebrates, preserves, and cultivates an understanding in the artistic identity of the south. The Gibbes’ Beaux-Arts building is a work of art itself, and it was fascinating to learn about the roles of the people who are responsible for the smooth operation of this museum.
Gibbes Museum of Art Twitter feed.
During the summer, one of my main duties included managing and creating some of the social outreach efforts—namely on Facebook and Twitter. These sites are excellent tools to get information out to the public in a quick and provocative way. I researched and developed short posts to connect the art or history of the Gibbes to current events or interests. Through this process I have become very familiar with the museum and its collection in a multidimensional way—not only is a post about highlighting information about a work of art or an event, it is also about creating conversations around Charleston’s cultural community, past and present. It’s always great to see responses to these posts and know that there are others out there who find these connections just as intriguing as I do!
Another large project that I had this summer was the creation of promotional ideas for social media for the upcoming fall exhibits, Sound and Vision: Monumental Rock and Roll Photography and Willard Hirsch: Charleston’s Sculptor. For Sound and Vision, I researched not only the famous musicians who are featured in the pictures, but also the photographers who captured the unforgettable images of these stars. In many cases, these photographers were partly responsible for the artist’s fame. Dick Waterman (b. 1935)—who photographed Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, and B.B. King—also worked to revitalize the blues movement by seeking these artists out, recording them, and becoming a lifelong friend. Other times, photographers were hired for a shoot or two and ultimately captured the iconic photo that immediately comes to mind when thinking of a musician. Who can think of The Doors and Jim Morrison without picturing the black and white image by Joel Brodsky (1939–2007) of Morrison with arms outstretched, staring out at the viewer? Interestingly, some of the photographers describe these as dumb-luck shots, and were surprised by the monumental responses to them.
Though learning about the musicians featured in the photos was interesting, I was more fascinated with the accounts of the photographers. We usually don’t hear the stories from behind the camera when looking at portraiture. Gered Mankowitz (b. 1946), who photographed Jimi Hendrix in 1967, describes the relationship between photographer and musician as one that relies heavily on trust. These photographers were tasked not only with the capturing the likeness of their subjects, but also with conveying a sense of the musician’s personality and persona. I can’t wait to see the photographs in person and I’m sure it will be an incredibly impressive exhibition! Make sure to keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter for fun facts about the works of art on view this fall, and the related programs and events. Please join in the conversation!
—Alice Van Arsdale, museum relations intern 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
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.
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 email@example.com or 843.722.2706 x41.