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.
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