Search Results for 'Art to Go'

Art To Go Teachers Inspiring Young Minds!

Arts education provides students with a sense of personal worth and fosters an appreciation for creativity and innovation. Education specialists across the county agree that effective arts education promotes self-directed learning, sharpens critical thinking skills, develops self- awareness, improves school attendance, and encourages positive behavior! These are just a few of the reasons we have developed education outreach programs like Art to Go. Working in partnership with Charleston County School District Title I schools, Art to Go combines art making and instruction through experiences with real works of art. Gibbes Teaching Artists work with art teachers in six schools on a specific project or to complement their curriculum. Each year Art to Go collaborates with the Charleston Marathon, which benefits the Youth Endowment for the Arts. Completed projects were on display at the Marathon Expo in January.

Art To Go Project

Art To Go Project from Mitchell Elementary. Teaching Artist Leonora Dechtiar

Each year the Art to Go grows in strength and numbers! We asked each of the four art teachers to share a few words with us about their experience in the classroom.  Sally Collins, a long time Gibbes teaching artist, was not available for an interview, but you can see her student’s work pictured below.

Art To Go

Art To Go Project From Pinehurst Elementary, Teaching Artist Sally Collins

Q. How many years have you been involved in Art to Go and how do you decide on your project each year?

Kristen: This was my third year working with Art to Go. Each year I try to plan a project that is inclusive to all ages, while also using different art forms and mediums. This year we created a large paper mache Angel Oak tree sculpture. This was the first time many of the students had created such a large work, used paper mache, and made a sculpture. The students took pride in the assembly of the tree and helped each other apply the wet sheets of paper around our wire frame to build the tree. Fourth and fifth graders tied and cut out leaves, work that required a lot of patience and detail. Each week the classes would come in to check the tree’s progress to see it go from a wire frame to a wet paper mache base to a fully painted trunk to then being full of branches and leaves.

Art To Go

Art To Go from Angel Oak Elementary, Teaching Artist Kristen Solecki

Leonora:

I have been involved in Art to Go twice, once in 2012 and again this year. I decided on the concept for the projects based on what grades I’d be working with, what materials were available, and what the kids would benefit from. For example, the first year we created a clay mosaic because I had access to a kiln for firing the clay. This year, we also made a mural but instead we used a mix of different materials, such as paper, paint, aluminum foil, and model magic clay. I made sure to use materials the students normally didn’t work with or worked with rarely, so that they could learn something new.

Hannah:

This was my first year with the program!  I researched different ideas, and met with my teachers a few weeks before class to discuss what their thoughts were.  The projects ended up being collaborative ideas between what we thought would be really fun, but also informative.

Q. Tell me about your student’s experiences with art. What do you hope they walk away with or remember about creating art?

Kristen:

From my experience it seems that art class is one of the opportunities  that students look forward to most. It is the opportunity to learn new mediums, work with your hands, and a place where all skill levels are welcome because uniqueness is encouraged.

Leonora:

I think what my students remember the most from their experience is the joy of using materials they have never used and exploring those materials with a sense of excitement and curiosity. I think it’s special for them to have a guest come in to their art room and this excitement carries over to their art making. I think art is primarily about having fun and expressing one’s creativity, and if we achieved that, I think that’s the most important goal. The other thing my students took away from it was an exposure to the Gibbes Museum and their connection to the history and art of Charleston, which is so important for them.

Hannah:

I hope that they hold on to the feeling that comes with creating something that you’re really proud of.

Q: How do you think art enhances education?

Kristen:

Art enhances education in countless ways. Through these projects I can see first-hand how art teaches not only new skills and techniques for making art, but also how to work as a team, problem solve, and be creative.

Leonora:

Art, unlike many other subjects, gives the children an opportunity to use their hands and develop their fine motor skills, which is important to have in any future career. Also, art gives children an opportunity to expand and practice using their creativity and imagination. Without creativity, I don’t think you could be a good scientist. Also, art gives students a chance to relax, have fun, and unwind from a day that may be filled with stress. I noticed that when the kids worked with clay in the art room, they were relaxed when molding the clay. I think art has a therapeutic effect in children and can relieve stress, which allows them to focus more on other subjects.

Hannah:

Art helps people express themselves in a way that’s different than other educational activities. Instead of writing something down, or acting something out, kids are given the opportunity to physically create something that’s completely their own.  That’s an accomplishment in itself, and I think it helps build a sense of confidence and self-worth.

Arttogo_blog2

Bios:

Kristen Solecki is an illustrator and art educator that uses paint and ink to translate stories and moments using strong changeable line work and bold color.  She has created work for publications such as Taproot Magazine, Uppercase Magazine, Skirt Magazine, the television show, Mad Men, as well as for galleries and shops across the U.S. You can see her work at www.kristensolecki.com

Leonora Dechtiar has her BFA in Illustration from Maine College of Art and her Masters of Arts in Teaching from Savannah College of Art and Design. She studied art for a semester in  Spain, where she developed a deep appreciation for art history. She loves illustrating for children, and  has published with Studio 9, Inc., which publishes educational materials and coloring books for children. After getting her certificate in art education, Leonora has worked as an art teacher at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, SC for two years. She also spent a year and a half in Beijing, China teaching art at an international Montessori school.

Hannah Durant grew up in Alexandria, VA and went to college at Elon University. After she graduated, she moved back to Virginia to get a “real” job and quickly realized that wasn’t her path.  Hannah has spent the last two years in Charleston, SC working with creative businesses in different capacities, and building on her interests.

Sally Collins holds a Commercial Art Degree, Bachelor of Social Science Degree, and Master in Teaching (MIT) Degree. She has previously taught Art, English, and 4th grade at the First Baptist School in Mt. Pleasant,  1st and 3rd grade at Midland Park Elementary in Charleston County as well as Art at Trident Academy in Mt. Pleasant. She has served as a Gibbes Teaching Artist for over 5 years with experience in summer camp, after school classes as well as Art to Go.

Art to Go at Angel Oak Elementary School

This semester, I have been working with Megan Sweeney’s Angel Oak Elementary School classes on a project called “Going the Distance for the Arts.” It is a wonderful feeling to go into a classroom and see how excited students are over creating something that is their own, as well as collaborating on a larger project together. As an introduction to the Gibbes Museum, classes learned about the bust of George Washington, sculpted by Giusepe Ceracchi ca. 1792, and the importance of a portrait. The students learned how to draw a self-portrait and to translate onto paper what they see in 3-D.

As a school, we are creating a large owl sculpture of the Angel Oak mascot that will be displayed on the route of the Charleston Marathon. Students learned how to make a relief print using recycled materials and created feathers for the owl using this technique. The 4th and 5th graders helped make the owl form and assemble the feathers. They also designed a large mural as a background for the sculpture.

The marathon installation goes up on Friday, January 18, and can be viewed during the marathon on January 19 in the expo center. The marathon takes place in downtown Charleston, and raises funds to support fine arts programs in our community schools.

In addition to the classroom activities, I have been meeting with the Art Club at Angel Oak. Each member received his or her own sketchbook and we discussed the importance of drawing from life, from your imagination, and from words. We have been writing about our work as well, as an exercise to examine the connection between visual art and the written word. I find each of my encounters with the students so inspiring.

Kristen Solecki, Teaching Artist and Guest Blogger

Learn more about programs for K-12 students at the Gibbes on our website or by contacting Rebecca Sailor, Associate Curator of Education, at rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org.

Read about another Art to Go—Charleston Marathon collaboration on our blog.

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.

Art to Go Exhibition

Today is the opening day of our special Art to Go exhibition, featuring work created by students at Mt. Zion Elementary School. Over the course of the 2009/2010 school year, the Gibbes Art to Go program, led by teaching artist Martha Criscuolo, visited Mt. Zion on Johns Island every Thursday. This special partnership was designed to introduce students in grades 1-5 to both art history and studio art, while using the Gibbes permanent collection and special exhibitions as sources of inspiration for their own artmaking. Culminating their year of study, this special exhibition features works created by the students. Each student chose one artwork that they felt best expressed them for the exhibition. The exhibition will be on view through this weekend—we hope to see you at the Gibbes!

 Want learn more about the Gibbes Art to Go program? Contact Rebecca Sailor at (843) 722-2706, ext. 41.

ArttoGoExhibit 007

ArttoGoExhibit 012

ArttoGoExhibit 008

ArttoGoExhibit 013

ArttoGoExhibit 009

ArttoGoExhibit 010

Art to Go at Mt. Zion Elementary

IMG_1968

Each Thursday during the school year, Teaching Artist and Museum Educator Martha Criscuolo leads Art to Go at Mt. Zion Elementary School on Johns Island. During the program she instructs students in grades 1-5 on a variety of art projects. These particular photos are from a paper mache project with 4th and 5th grade students. The project was included in a lesson on folk art based on the Ancestry and Innovation exhibition hosted by the Gibbes this past summer. In addition to classroom sessions, students visit the Gibbes as part of the Art to Go experience.

 To find out more about Art to Go, click here or contact Rebecca Williams at (843) 722-2706 x41 or rcwilliams@gibbesmuseum.org. IMG_1971

IMG_1969

IMG_1973

Here today, gone tomorrow (or over six months): How we moved out of the Gibbes! (Part II)

phase 3 empty gallery

Empty galleries…finally!

September 2014

The final phase of art packing involved the relocation of the Gibbes nationally-acclaimed collection of over 600 miniature portraits to secure storage at The Charleston Museum. While the miniatures comprise the smallest works in the art collection, planning to transport them just a few short miles up Meeting Street was the most complex of all the art movement. These fragile works on ivory require specialized handling and tightly-controlled climatic conditions at all times; movement had to be smooth and almost completely vibration-free. Once again, our skilled Museum staff and a crew of expert fine art movers accomplished this task. Looking back, it seems we definitely saved the most stressful of the moves for last! If you drop by The Charleston Museum (TMC) this month, several of our miniatures are on display; we can’t thank our colleagues at TMC enough for taking such excellent care of our miniature collection, one of the best in the United States!

miniature drawer

Fragile miniature portraits were the last collection to leave the building

October 2014

When the last piece of art left the building, you might assume collections staff could finally relax, right? Never.  Managing logistics for Insider Art Series exhibitions, preparation for conservation of artwork now five hours away,  attending to a steady stream of loan requests to borrow permanent collection objects packed away, and working with our curators on the many details surrounding reinstallation of the permanent collection now fill our days (and sometimes nights.) No rest for the weary. We also had one final project to manage before our work at 135 Meeting Street could be considered complete: consolidate, pack, move, and store all of the “stuff” that staff wanted to keep for when we re-open. Tables, chairs, exhibition furniture, storage cabinets, art supplies, store inventory, heavy machinery, the kitchen sink…..all head to be dealt with and moved out.  So we did that too; it was hard and tiring and not all that interesting to write about so I’ll skip the details. Once that last piece of our massive move puzzle had fallen into place, we did what Gibbes staff has been talking about for years-celebrated with a roller skating party in our Main Gallery!

 

roller skating

GMA staff on wheels (Zinnia, second from right)

 

Stay tuned for updates on our current and future collection/move activities. We may be working in an office for the time being but the artwork and exhibitions are always on our minds. We’ll make sure you, our supporters and friends, remain part of all the activity and our exciting future!

 

Zinnia Willits, Director of Collections Administration

Here today, gone tomorrow (or over six months): How we moved out of the Gibbes! (Part I)

Here today, gone tomorrow (or over six months): How we moved out of the Gibbes!

The Gibbes Museum of Art closed its doors in August in preparation for a major renovation and expansion. Given the nature of the construction project, it was necessary to empty the building of all its contents….people, office equipment, artwork, exhibition furniture, museum store inventory; everything that was not part of the building structure had to go. Museum staff was tasked with moving over 10,000 pieces of artwork and over 100 years of accumulated “stuff” out of the building over a six-month period. Our small, efficient, energetic staff has proven time and again that we can rise to a challenge and accomplish tasks, but this move project gave us all a moment of pause….and then we got over it and went to work! We accomplished our goal and today the Gibbes is an empty shell ready to be restored to its former glory, but how did we do it??? While I have been known to hold audiences captive for a long time talking about this move project, I realize this is a blog, and will try to convey our process in manageable sections (Part I and part II) rather than looking at the whole elephant!

April 2014

Planning for the collection move began several years ago and involved the coordination of art handling crews, fine art transit companies, and multiple storage locations. As the Director of Collections Administration, my first task was to find over 3,000 square feet of museum-quality space to store the entire art collection. Unfortunately, that does not exist in South Carolina. The closest commercial fine art storage with that amount of available, climate-controlled, secure space is in Orlando, Florida, which we decided was too far away. Instead, I pursued partnerships with our friends, The Charleston Museum, The South Carolina State Museum, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta to store portions of our permanent collection during construction. We are pleased to be working with colleagues and strengthening relationships. Transport Consultants International assisted with the complicated logistics of this move.

print storage room packing

Packing works on paper took place behind-the-scenes in our print storage room

In order to keep the museum open as long as possible, removal of the art collection occurred in four phases. We started the process of packing and moving the collection in April 2014. During the first phase a crew of professional contract art handlers wrapped the museum’s collection of 4000+ works-on-paper and approximately 100 pieces of sculpture. All packing activities took place behind-the-scenes and the museum remained open to the public with little disruption. The images below do very little to convey the volume of material that was wrapped, nor the tight quarters in which the project took place, but you get a general sense of how it was done. The excellent art handling crew that worked with Gibbes staff knocked out this first phase of packing in just ten short (actually really LONG) days. These collections were shipped to The South Carolina State Museum in Columbia in May and are currently enjoying secure, climate-controlled storage under the supervision of the professional staff at the State Museum.

June 2014

Looking back at the whirlwind that was June 2014, it’s hard to believe how much activity took place and that we made it through those 30 days positive and still speaking to one another! The month began with the dreaded office move as museum staff changed operations from 135 Meeting Street to our temporary home in the Franke Building at 171 Church Street. As with any move there was the stress of packing boxes, uprooting comfortable work spaces, considering relocation of files and file cabinets, working out technology issues, planning for the logistics of the actual move, unpacking the boxes, getting used to new offices and work space, and the unsettling feeling of being disconnected from the collection and exhibits. It was a tough few weeks, but we persevered and learned to adjust to the new normal of working in an office building. Well most of us adjusted; I think those of us in collections and curatorial still find it particularly difficult to be away from the art. Meanwhile, back at the museum (which was still open to the public) I was moving forward with phase 2 of packing the collection. Just one week after the office move, the art handling crew returned to pack over 500 paintings and several large sculptures over another two-week period. The Garden and Balcony galleries were closed and set up as packing stations to provide the ample space required. Museum visitors were able to observe the packing process while still enjoying exhibitions in the Main and Rotunda galleries.  I definitely lived a double life in June running (literally) between the new offices at 171 Church Street and the art packing project at 135 Meeting.

phase 2 storage

Painting Storage beginning to empty out.

July 2014

With July came a small respite. Packed paintings were shipped to their temporary home at the High Museum of Art Collections Storage Facility in Atlanta, Georgia. Greg Jenkins and I made the trek to Atlanta (the first of many) to assist with movement of our collections off the trucks and into the storage facility. The capable staff at the High was wonderful to work with and our paintings are stored alongside many treasures from the High’s permanent collection. The remainder of July was spent preparing for the next phase of packing and final closure of the Museum. We also received word that the Gibbes was awarded a Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections Grant  in the amount of $250,000 to improve storage conditions for the museum’s collections. Grant funds will be used to purchase high-quality storage furniture for the renovated collections suite. This exciting news was a great boost for Gibbes staff after a grueling summer of moving.

August 2014

On to August. Time for an end of summer vacation perhaps?? Forget about it! August was crunch time for Gibbes collection staff as the third, and most multifaceted phase of collection packing got under way.  The art handling team (with the addition of a crating specialist) returned once again to pack oversize paintings and all objects on view in The Charleston Story.  This process took place over a three-week period. Crews worked behind-the-scenes to crate oversize paintings in storage until the Museum finally closed to the public.  Once the doors were shut we spread out into the galleries to pack artworks on view for long-term storage. Many of these paintings were large and required sturdy travel crates; the Museum had over 70 high-quality crates constructed by US Art Company to protect our finest works during transit and storage. In the end, four tractor-trailers loaded with all remaining artwork were sent to the High storage facility in early September. Our hallowed halls were finally empty….almost.

Stay tuned for Part II next week!

 

phase 3 crating large painting

Packing a large painting in storage

 

Zinnia Willits, Director of Collections Administration

The Art of Spinning Yarn, a Museum Educator’s Ongoing Education

I started volunteering with the Gibbes almost five years ago after getting a master’s degree in art history. Since then I’ve worked on numerous projects in the curatorial department, helped with art camp one summer, and become a museum educator. While not at the museum, I work at a local stained glass studio, Blue Heron Glass, where I teach and create unique works of glass art.

Davidson Hall

Davidson Hall is the building our classroom was in, as seen from the Herb Garden Path.

I was able to combine my interests in art and education, including my obsessions with knitting and yarn, on my recent vacation to the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. I took a week-long spinning class (spinning yarn, not bicycles) with a good friend and we stayed at one of the school’s houses. Neither of us had ever spun yarn before, but we were both excited for the challenge. The school is located in the mountains in a small town called Brasstown, NC, very near the Georgia and Tennessee borders. They offer classes all year long and in many different topics like fiber arts (spinning, knitting, weaving, quilting, etc.), blacksmithing, pottery, writing, painting, woodturning, music, and other folk arts.

It was like stepping into a different time and onto a slightly different planet. Upon checking in, we learned that there were no keys to the rooms and while our linens were provided, we had to make our own beds. Meals were included with our board and all the dining was family-style where we served ourselves and bussed our own tables. It was camp for adults (although they welcome young ones to the school).  Much of the food was grown in the school’s gardens and they baked most of the bread there. There were numerous paths and trails on the grounds, and we enjoyed walking through the woods and fields of the school.

spinning class setup

Spinning Class shows our set-up with the wheels and fleece.

Our spinning instructor was from Boulder, CO and there were people from all across the country in our class. We started by discussing how to prepare a fleece directly from the sheep and moved on from there. Over the course of the week we spun yarn from five different breeds of sheep, cotton, silk and commercially available roving. We learned about different types of spinning wheels and even played a little with drop spindles. We played with hand carders, drum carders, long combs and all sorts of other tools that looked like torture devices. The most exciting and crazy thing we tried was spinning cotton thread directly from unprocessed cotton bolls. One afternoon we took an impromptu field trip to a local sheep farm.

Along with the classes they had activities in the evenings like demonstrations from other classes, a contra dance, and a concert on Friday night. Every morning there was “Morning Song,” a 30 minute session of blue grass music and storytelling. There was a fabulous craft shop just under the dining hall that featured goods made by various teachers at the folk school and a book room. Meal times were also a treat because we met interesting people from other classes. Some students were learning totally new skills, like us, while others were taking intermediate or advanced courses.

Overall, it was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to go back. It was such a pleasure to see so many dying arts and crafts alive and well at the folk school and I realized that there are so many other things I want to learn. I just need to figure out what to make with all my hand-spun yarn!

mountain beard

“Mountain Beard” shows my love of fleece!

Rebecca Heister, Museum Educator and Volunteer

How Art Engages Creative Minds

“Help! Our kids blanked out on last year’s writing test. They left the pages BLANK!”

That’s the kind of call for help I’ve been asked to address with an Engaging Creative Minds (ECM) project. ECM is a local non-profit that pairs teachers and art partners to collaborate on developing creative learning strategies in Charleston County Public Schools. The Gibbes is one of ECM’s Engaging Learning Experience (ELE) partners and we address all kinds of topics, using art as a springboard to self-expression.

This past December, my fellow museum educator Lucie Medbery and I started a 5-day writing workshop (held over two weeks) at Zucker Middle School. The aim was to get 180 7th-graders to WRITE, using 7th-grade science standards around biomes as ecosystems as our “springboard.” No more tests turned in with blank spaces!

Zucker Middle School students

Zucker Middle School students in Ms. Gleim’s ELA class.

The best part of an ECM project is the collaboration between partners (Lucie and me) and teachers (in this case, Elizabeth Gleim and Shorace Guider, 7th grade English Language Arts teachers). They ask for help, we “percolate” about how we can assist them, and together we come up with a plan. And the percolation part is so much fun! Lucie has a background in gifted education in Kansas City. My background is teaching French, and for many years I have been a museum educator at the Terra Museum in Chicago and at the Gibbes here in Charleston. We both have minds that respond to images and we both love kids.

Each planning session is so exciting! We throw out ideas, look for images, and before we know it, we can see multiple paths before us. But we have to keep returning to the standards we were asked to address. It takes a few sessions, but eventually we find the path we want to take. This project took many emails, lots of phone calls, and nine different PowerPoints to get the workshop to be what we wanted.

The use of media this time was so inspiring. Each 7th grader at Zucker has an iPad and we used them big time! When my teacher realized that I was continually morphing the PowerPoint presentations, she asked if she could upload them to the students’ iPads, and it worked so well!

At first, the students got so excited about the images that they would fast forward to see what was coming next. Then, we started loading our “homework” assignments on their iPads, while encouraging them to actually write with a pencil in their ECM composition books, and skip lines so they could edit their work. The students had it all on their personal tablets: the images, the assignments, and what was coming up next. They responded beautifully to the POWER it gave them.

Students act out a food chain during the "Biome to Biome" day.

Students act out a food chain during the “Biome to Biome” day.

One of the highlights of this project, for me anyway, was our “Biome to Biome” day. Each student drew a card (a specific animal) out of a deck of different animals. They had to assume that animal’s identity, find their biome, and then interact with the other “animals” in that biome. Then, of course, we asked them to write about it. With this exercise, it didn’t seem to matter where the students were in the 7th-grade hierarchy of reading, understanding, and writing levels. They just GOT it!

Acting out a food chain in the marine biome.

Acting out a food chain in the marine biome.

From “It all started at the Watering Hole” to “How I survived a Food Chain,” these students were fired up with images and ready to write down what they saw, what it meant, and how they felt about it. The writing samples are, of course, varied according to individual abilities, but each student seemed to have that aha moment.

Zucker Middle School student

A Zucker Middle School student shows off his writing sample from the workshop.

What a wonderful feeling by the end of the workshop to say “now write,” and have them all pick up their pens (not pencils!—we wanted them to learn to edit) and with great enthusiasm, WRITE! Many thanks to the Gibbes Museum and to ECM for giving us such fun opportunities to link art with learning!

Elise Detterbeck & Lucie Medbery, Museum Educators and Guest Bloggers

Art’s Impact

It is hard to believe that another year is about to end and we will soon be welcoming 2016. Not to be cliché or anything, but the end of a year always allows people an opportunity to reflect on the happenings of that year. Once again, I write my own lists of goals for 2016 – read more, meditate, be a better person and on and on. However, as most of us think about our personal resolutions, it is hard not to consider the larger world around us.

Watching the news this week, there were numerous replays of the year’s most significant events, many of which were tragic and heartbreaking. Shootings occurred everywhere from movie theaters, to colleges, to churches. Most significantly, we witnessed tragedy in our own community at Mother Emanuel AME on June 17. And the world watched in horror when Paris was overtaken by hatred on November 13. Unfortunately, many lost their lives in places meant to inspire. While reflecting on these events, I thought about the fact that it would be very easy to succumb to sadness, despair and possibly the lack of hope for our world today. Yet, quite the opposite, in that I think many of us quickly learned that the arts in all forms continue to endure. The arts help the human spirit to endure. This, of course, is not to trivialize the injustice that prevailed throughout these events, but rather to consider how we use art to reflect upon the social issues at play and how we use art as a way to handle our grief. Art often expresses more than mere words and people often welcome art when there is nothing left to say. Consider the many images that circulated through social media in response to the shootings in Paris and at Mother Emanuel AME.

Alloneword Design: Tears for Mother/Love for All   Gil Shuler Graphic Design - We Shall Overcome

Charleston Strong images by Y'allsome Goods

Images in response to the Emanuel AME tragedy on June 17, 2015. Top Row: Alloneword Design, Gil Shuler Graphic Design. Bottom Row: Y’allsome Goods.

The Gibbes Museum of Art held its annual Distinguished Lecture Series in November days after the Paris shootings. Former Met director Philippe de Montebello offered a lecture on “The Multiple Lives of the Work of Art” where he discussed how art can be “transformed by time and circumstances (and) that the meaning of the work itself can change, as well as our own response to it.” French illustrator Jean Jullien conveyed this same notion when he created a simple image of the Eiffel Tower in a peace sign that circulated throughout the world and became an instant symbol of peace and solidarity. Some saw it as a cross while others saw it as an image of Paris. He commented, “That’s the beauty of an image, people can see what they can see. And if it helps with their faith, then I’m fine with that.”

Image by Jean Jullien in response to the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, France.

Image by Jean Jullien in response to the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, France.

Opening ourselves to art enlightens us. Exploring its many layers, we uncover the physical details while delving into the metaphysical. We examine. We question. We process. And we feel. That is what art can do. It challenges us to perhaps see things in a different way or to consider a different meaning. This spring we will reopen the Gibbes Museum of Art, and our entire community will be reintroduced to its collection of art. To inaugurate the new space, the Gibbes is organizing the exhibition The Things We Carry: Contemporary Art in the South. This exhibition will feature paintings, sculpture, photography, and mixed media works by a diverse group of contemporary artists while addressing the difficult history of the south, and the many subtle and not so subtle ways it is manifest today. The goal is to provide a place where the Charleston community can come together and have meaningful conversations about our past, about the tragic shootings at the Emanuel AME Church, about the spirit of this community and its response to the challenges we face, and any other conversations inspired by the works on view.

Visitors at the Gibbes Museum of Art.

Visitors at the Gibbes Museum of Art. Photo by MCG Photography.

As we reflect on 2015, let us not be afraid to go out in the world and visit our museums, our churches, and our schools. Let us use art to make our world a better place. I encourage all of you to make a resolution that includes art in 2016! Art will prevail.

Jennifer Ross, Gibbes Museum Director of Development

Next »