Archive for December, 2010

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