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Art Educator of the Week, Elise Detterbeck

Did you know we currently have 15 active museum educators and teaching artists teaching and collaborating! These hard working educators have great insight into the value of arts education and we’ve decided to profile them here! Meet our Art Educator of the Week, Elise Detterbeck

Else with Eye Spy students

Else with Eye Spy students

Why is art an important part of learning?  

I view art as a window to the world. We all need to look beyond our little corner of the world to expand our experiences and grow. Art shows us how people live and think today and in the past in the United States and all over the world. It helps us understand ourselves and others. I see this every time I work with children either at the Gibbes or in the schools. It doesn’t matter if it’s a traditional painting or a very modernistic sculpture. They look, they think, and they respond.

How long have you been teaching and why did you get involved in teaching?

When I chose French as my major in college, I never really thought about what I’d do with it. I floated into teaching and loved it. A new language is also a window to another world, and I really thrived on leading students into that new world. Teaching children how to talk about art is similar, but easier. It’s more open-ended, more forgiving, and more expansive. With art you can teach almost any subject and students can respond in an increasing variety of ways after learning to look, think, and then respond.

What is a favorite memory of introducing a student to the arts?

I have a lot of great memories of students looking at art, but this may be my new favorite:

With my third grade Eye Spy students we were talking about genre scenes, which we call “pictures that tell a story.”  I showed them on the Smart Board a picture of 3 of my grandchildren (ages 20 months, 5, & 8) squished together on a sofa, all reading books in their pajamas. We talked about the elements of art in that photo, the medium used and then we got into the Who? What? When? Where? Why? game to figure out the “story.” They decided very quickly that these were (who?) 3 siblings (what?) reading their favorite books (where?) in their home (when) on a day off from school (why?) due to a snowstorm. Then all of a sudden, they said: “Wait a minute, are those YOUR grandchildren?” What thrilled me was that they could, from the picture, support every assumption they made, without any help from me.

For over 100 years, education has been central to the mission of the Gibbes. Serving more than 15,000 preK-12th grade students each year, the Gibbes interactive programs develop intellectual and aesthetic skills while addressing South Carolina Learning Standards. We are so grateful to have the support of educators like Elise who have been instrumental to the success of these programs.

To learn more about the value of art education, here are a few recent articles:

What to do if your Child’s First Love is Art?

Art Education Poised for a Comeback in Nation’s Largest School Districts

Bringing Back What Works in Education

The Art of Social Healing Through Sculpture and Public Art

In 2011, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel and S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal held a symposium in Charleston to mark the 50th anniversary of the Briggs v. Elliott ruling. This ruling led to the creation of a committee that raised about $125,000 to commission a statue to honor U.S. District Judge J. Waties Waring; the man whose anti-segregation rulings made him a pariah in his hometown, but set the table for the Civil Rights Movement.

In “‘A liberating force,’ Waring returns to Charleston” Post and Courier journalist Robert Behre writes that a dozen sculptors sought to create the bronze likeness of Waring, and Rick Weaver, a sculptor from Charlottesville, Va., won the commission. Mr. Weaver was kind enough to take the time to answer questions about his work and to describe the process of creating this important sculpture. Mr. Weaver will join artist Jonathan Green and Dr. Jeb Hallett on March 10 for a panel discussion on The Art of Social Healing Through Sculpture and Public Art at the Charleston Federal Courthouse on Broad Street.

Judge Waites Waring sculpture

Final version of the Judge Waties Waring sculpture

How did you originally get interested and trained in sculpture?

I actually received my training not in sculpture, but in drawing and painting in New York, and then received my graduate degree in painting at UNC-Greensboro.  Whether you are working in charcoal, paint, clay, or any other medium, the underlying principles in art do not vary.  So when I became more interested in sculpture, I was able to essentially teach myself the procedure. I gradually moved my focus to sculpture in the last 10 years because the ideas I wanted to express seemed to have ultimately more to do with creating a shape in space, and depended less on creating an illusion on a 2 dimensional surface.

Describe the process of how you got to know Waties Waring in order to design your statue of him?

I first read the biography “A Passion for Justice” to get a feel for the man and his accomplishments.  It was also very helpful to speak with members of the sculpture committee, who had a familiarity with his judicial and social history in Charleston. Ultimately, I feel I can only really know myself – I never feel that I can truly understand another person in any comprehensive way, and I therefore never feel capable of “capturing” someone else in a sculpture. What I do is try to identify some vital aspect of someone’s character that I also recognize in myself, and then try to make the sculpture about that emotion or idea. With Judge Waring, I identified very closely with the idea that he was embattled, and pressured to do things he knew were wrong. Yet he persevered in his own beliefs of what was right and was true to his nature, despite the condemnation of his peers. (Not that I equate his courage with anything I possess, but I think there is some modest echo of what he displayed in all of us). Most good sculptures ultimately rise above the individual depicted, his or her gender, race, and personal history, and touch on themes that are universal and felt by all humanity. To what degree I was successful in this attempt is for others to judge, but that was my goal with the Judge Waring sculpture.

Just how does one make a statue of this magnitude? Briefly describe the manufacturing process.

On the manufacturing end, I will say that very early on, for the reasons given above, it was clear the statue should be in a standing position, to show Judge Waring’s resolute physical stance as a powerful metaphor for the intellectual stance he took in his judicial decisions. I worked on a life-size scale in my studio, beginning with a foam and aluminum armature, and progressing to a wax modeling of the actual figure.  I have included images which may illustrate the process better than my words. This final sculpture was then put in the capable hands of Carolina Bronze Foundry who completed all casting processes necessary to convert my wax sculpture into the final bronze.

Rick Weaver's sculpture of Judge Waites Waring

Beginning stage of the Judge Waites Waring sculpture

Did this project in any way impact your own personal feelings about the Civil Rights Movement and the sacrifice of champions like Judge Waring?

My knowledge of American History, let alone the Civil Rights Movement, is not what it should be.  So I am always very thankful for the excuse to research historical figures to fill in the gaps of my early education. I always feel that if my initial schooling had centered on integrating academic subjects with art I would have retained a lot more information. In reading about Civil Rights heroes like Judge Waring, John Chavis, or Maggie Walker, I am struck by their relentless courage in the face of opposition. The example of fortitude in mere mortals, however elevated by history, makes that kind of courage more accessible to me in some way that I may not have felt if I had not read their histories.

Related articles:

A liberating force,’ Waring returns to Charleston by Robert Behre, Post and Courier

Judge J. Waties Waring: Charleston’s Insider Agitator by Robert Rosen, Post and Courier

Judge Remembered For Landmark Role He Played In Desegregating Schools by Bruce Smith, Huffington Post

Rick Weaver received his formal training in New York at the National Academy of Design, the New York Academy, and the Art Students League. He earned his Master of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, where he was influenced by the sculptor Billy Lee.

Jonathan Green’s painting “Breath of Freedom,” depicts  a crowd of people outside the Charleston federal courthouse listening to the trial Briggs vs. Elliot. He donated a copy of this painting to every public high school in the Charleston County school district. Green’s painting was presented at the Hollings Judicial Center Garden on April 11, 2014, the same day as the Judge Waties Warning sculpture dedication.

This event is at full capacity but you can learn more about our Art of Healing series by signing up for our e-newsletter, following us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and checking our online calendar.

Thank you to Dr. Jeb Hallett who formulated the questions for Mr. Weaver and who will be moderating Tuesday night’s panel discussion. The Art of Healing is sponsored by Roper St. Francis.

Art of Healing, Understanding the Five Elements

Q&A with Lisa Dunlevy

AOH_march

 

Please explain the psychology of the five elements.

The Five Elements are stages of transformation: Water (birth), Wood (growth), Fire (ripening), Earth (harvest), and Metal (decay). They are different aspects of nature, as are we, and are known as “Wu Xing.” There are numerous parallels to each element including a corresponding season, climate, emotion, sound, smell, archetype, and even an organ.

For example, the wood element corresponds to springtime and the experience of walking outside, seeing the buds in the trees, and feeling hopeful. Watching the green sprouting from the ground, the trees, and vines is a visual experience and the element wood connects with having a vision, a plan, and a sense of creativity. Maybe you know someone with a lot of creative rising energy, or someone who lacks vision and doesn’t have a plan. This would be examples of how we are either gifted, or deficient in this element. All five elements are found within the individual, but there is one element that stands out and determines how we relate to the world.

How do you determine someone’s element?

When a new client calls me I listen to her/his voice. Then I also take into account what is ailing them, what part of the body is involved, are they frustrated with their condition, are they overwhelmed, have they waited a long time to call, or do they want to get this resolved immediately? When they are come into the office, do they move quickly, or slowly, what do they do for a living? These are all pieces to observe who that person is and to determine their constitutional element. Then we can move onto the virtues of each element, which helps with healing and becoming aligned with our purpose. The virtues of each element are Wisdom, Listening (water), Benevolence (wood), Partnership, and Truth (fire), Thoughtfulness and Support (earth), and Respect (metal). We aspire to have all of these, but one is most important to us. This part can also become taxed or imbalanced, and becoming our best selves and recognizing our natural talents can be very healing.

Can you explain what participants can expect from this workshop?

The class will consist of an introduction into the five element theory. We will also take a short quiz to evaluate which element we align with. Then we will either have a few volunteers share about their element, or gather in groups of each element. We will also have time to address questions, and then we will practice the Dance of The Phoenix Qi Gong practice.

What are the benefits of Qi Gong Practice? What does this type of movement involve?

Qi gong is a beautiful practice of moving our bodies to open the various meridians and bring harmony back to our bodies and mind.  It is best described as a moving meditation that uses our breath and bodily movements to open blocked meridians and support the flow of qi or energy.  It is a practice that helps us become more vital and calm, which is a beautiful combination.

Finally, how do you describe the connection between art and healing?

Learning about the five elements allows for healing as we recognize that we all have a unique gift or genius, that our challenges can also be our strengths and when we are aligned with our ‘dao’ we can find our purpose.

Join us to discover your element in Understanding the Five Elements with Lisa Dunlevy on Tuesday, March 3 from 5:30-7:30pm.

Location: Hazel Parker Community Center, 70 East Bay Street

$35 Members, $45 Non-Members

Art of Healing Presents: Flower Power

Our December Art of Healing program presents Flower Power with floral design experts Gretchen Cuddy of Gretchen Cuddy Floral Designs, and Clara Varga-Gonzales of Tiger Lily Florists. Flowers have a powerful impact on the senses and can communicate a variety of sentiments. Gretchen and Clara were kind enough to answer questions about their philosophy of floral design in preparation for this event. Learn more from this talented duo on how horticulture enhances health and healing with moderator Dr. Jeb Hallett on December 10 at 6pm. The Thomas Bennett House will be decorated for the holidays—join us for this festive affair!

Thomas Bennett House

The Thomas Bennett House decorated for the holidays

Tell me about your background with floral design. When did you begin working with flowers and how has your work evolved over the years?

(Gretchen) My floral background started in college when I took a watercolor painting class, I would often create floral still life arrangements for the class to paint. Color combinations and the use of varied greenery and unique vases was a big part of the process. The use of texture and the contrast of natural elements in an arrangement have always interested me; it makes the final creation less expected to the viewer’s eye. Over the years, I have spent quite a bit of time working with florals for churches and sacred spaces. Presently, I create arrangements for numerous events in Charleston and love to use local plant materials to evoke a relationship with the beautiful Lowcountry.

(Clara) I started working with flowers 18 years ago. My husband and I bought Tiger Lily florist in 1996. Weddings are always evolving depending on what the style is at the time. Our goal has always been to have big bright flowers in arrangements. American send much fewer flowers than Europeans do. It’s just not our tradition as much as it is overseas to have flowers on a daily basis. Therefore it’s very important for us to carry flowers that have a long vase life so that the consumer feels like they received a good value.

Flowers by Tiger Lilly

Flowers by Tiger Lilly

What is it about working with flowers that is healing for you?

(Gretchen) I find that when I am working with flowers I can allow myself to be as creative as possible. It is almost like an out of body experience for me at times, and is better than any therapy. I can completely forget my troubles and transport myself into another world where the beauty of an arrangement gives me the greatest joy. It is self-healing in a way that is very personal.

(Clara) I think working with flowers in the flower shop is a different dynamic then working with flowers at home. When I work with flowers at home it’s more relaxing for me because there’s not the stress of getting it right for the client or making sure that the flowers are the correct shade or variety. There also isn’t the pressure of time constraints and delivery complications as far as transportation.

What are your favorite flowers to work with? Are there some types of flowers that are your least favorite?

(Gretchen) My favorite flowers to work with are sunflowers. I love the contrast of the yellow petals against the dark brown center. I almost always have a bouquet of them in my kitchen….they just make me smile. My least favorite flowers that I honestly cannot use are the ones that have been artificially dyed. It is simply a violation of nature and denies the flower its true color and beauty.

(Clara) My favorite flower to work with has always been tulips. I had tulips at my wedding and I enjoy them so much because they don’t need a lot of design and they continue to grow even after they are cut. Peonies remind me of my father, but they are not always available. My least favorite flowers have always been the more common ones such as statice and Alstromeria, although I do like daisies and carnations.

Describe your creative process. Do you begin with a color or type of flower in mind? Or is more about a client’s preference?

(Gretchen) My creative process to begin an arrangement consists of several variables, namely the season, the style of the event, the budget. From there, I select the vase or container to compliment the overall design, and then work to define the line and scale of the arrangement. I love going BIG with arrangements and I always remind myself to try and keep that in check as sometimes a smaller arrangement is really what is needed. In the end, I personally have to be satisfied with the final product before I can part with it.

(Clara) If the choice is up to me I prefer to work with 5 to 7 different types of flowers, each with different texture and shapes. I’ll lay them all out in front of me and then create the arrangement in my mind based on the shapes and sizes that I have to work with.

Gretchen Cuddy flowers

Flowers by Gretchen Cuddy Designs

Why do we give flowers to people for happy and sad occasions? Weddings and funerals?

(Gretchen) The gift of flowers to someone shows that you care. It also shows that you are not afraid to live in the moment, because as we all know, flowers do not last forever, so an arrangement of flowers allows one to stop if only for a moment to appreciate the beauty that flowers bring no matter what the occasion, happy or sad.

(Clara) Studies show that living with flowers strengthens our feelings of compassion and decreases our anxiety and worry. I think that especially for funerals it’s important for families to receive flowers in their home. They spend a lot of time in their homes after a loved one has passed, and it can have a positive impact on their mood. When we do flowers for a wedding it’s almost as if once the flowers have been delivered and the reception and churches are set, that’s when the festivities can begin. My brides have always realized the implication of what’s about to happen once the flowers have arrived. That’s when they start crying. There’s some sort positive energy that comes from flowers and live plants!

Art of Healing: Flower Power

Wednesday, December 10, 6pm

 $20 Members, $30 Non Members

Location: Thomas Bennett House, 69 Barre Street

To purchase tickets, please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events or call 843.722.2706 x21

Roper logoSponsored by Roper St. Francis Foundation

Amy Mercer, Marketing and Communications Manager

Art with a Twist presents, Unexpected Treasures

Reinterpreting the past for today’s home and garden. Architectural salvage, antique decor, iron work, garden elements, and much more than we can describe!

2014 Charleston Symphony Orchestra League's Annual Designer Showcase

2014 Charleston Symphony Orchestra League’s Annual Designer Showcase, Master Bedroom

Jeff McKinney and Randy Grussing embrace a ‘fearless use of color’ in their designs. This attribute was on display in the vibrant master bedroom in the 2014 Charleston Symphony Orchestra League’s Annual Designer Showcase. As first time participants in the event, the dynamic duo endeavored to create a spectacular room for guests. The palette of the bedroom was inspired by a lowcountry sunset. “We were driving over the James Island connector one evening and the horizon was saturated with violent streaks of plums and paprika,” Jeff explains. American Gothic Revival Philadelphia gate posts from the 1850’s were transformed into bedside lamps, and a pair of marble topped tables with wrought iron bases were such a hit that they sold the second day of the show. Their design, titled Charleston Indochiene, received the Viewer’s Choice Award. When asked why he thought the room was so successful Jeff explained that the color combinations are unexpected and inviting. It was a room that looked lived in with furniture that was built to last.

These color combinations and customized furniture creations are on display in the showroom Circe on Saint Andrews Boulevard in West Ashley. A visit to the showroom is a sensory delight filled with lush fabrics, one-of-a kind antiques, and 19, 20, and 21 century items for the home. Jeff and Randy also own Architectural Antiques and Design, which is just down the street from Circe and is more of a warehouse where clients can discover hidden treasures.  “People will find ideas at Circe and the raw product at the warehouse,” Jeff explains. Working one on one with clients, they customize pieces that reflect the client’s personal style and offer designer fabrics at affordable prices.

AWAT Unexpected Treasures

Antique lamps ‘repurposed’ by Jeff and Randy

A team of locally sourced, skilled blacksmiths, lamp smiths, and upholsterers repurpose and update the antiques. Randy explains that, “what you live with has to change as you change.” He adds that we just don’t have the quality craftsmanship anymore, which is part of the reason he and Jeff work to educate clients about the value of pieces and the potential for modification. They feel that many people today have a disposable cultural sensibility. This belief in the intrinsic value of products from the past is reflected in the delicate curves of a settee, the smooth texture of a wooden dresser, and the summer blue spot of turquoise on the lamps in the corner. These are unexpected treasures indeed!

Architectural Antiques Vignette

Architectural Antiques Vignette, designed by Jeff and Randy

Join Jeff and Randy at Circe and Architectural Antiques & Design on Thursday, November 13 at 6pm for Unexpected Treasures: Re-designing Artful Artifacts. They will lead guests on a tour through the showroom and warehouse and share their expert tips on reinterpreting the past for today’s home and garden. A reception will follow.

Location: 903-C and 1011-A Saint Andrews Boulevard, next to Hambys. Limited parking is available at both locations so carpooling is suggested.

$20 Members, $30 Non-Members

To purchase tickets please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events or call 843.722.2706 x21.

Photos by Holger Obenaus
Amy Mercer, Marketing and Communications Manager

Art of Healing through dance, architecture, and flowers

The Gibbes Museum takes pride in the community partnerships that we’ve established over the years. An example of this is our involvement with Roper St. Francis Healthcare through the Art of Healing program. Established in 2012 by Gibbes Board Member and Roper St. Francis surgeon, Dr. Jeb Hallett, the Art of Healing explores the connections between art, personal well-being, and healing through panel discussions, workshops, and an art lending collection for Roper St. Francis Rehabilitation Hospital patients. “Art can help transport a patient’s attention away from their pain or condition to produce more positive emotions” says Dr. Hallett. Now in its third year, the program continues to expand with more workshops, conversations, and artists. To learn more about the Art of Healing lending program, enjoy this youtube video created by Roper St. Francis staff, Shane Ellis.

The next Art of Healing conversation will take place on November 4 at 6pm at the Circular Congregational Church  at 150 Meeting Street. This panel discussion will focus on how architecture and the spaces we build and inhabit can lead to healing and well-being.  Expert panelists include the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation Senior Director of Properties, and Hay House Director, Jonathan Poston, and Ray Huff, Director of the Clemson Architecture Center who will join Dr. Hallett for this moderated conversation.

Hard Light in Trumbo Street, 1934

An example of Charleston architecture by artist Prentiss Taylor

 

Dr. Hallett will ask probing questions such as: why have certain elements of architecture remained critically important over time? Why is light important to well-being, and how does certain forms such as Palladian windows and columns persisted over time? (The original term for a Palladian window is a serliana (or a Serlian Motif).  It is an archway or window with three openings, the central one arched and wider than the flanking openings (which were rectangular and enclosed at the top by an architrave). The Italian Renaissance architect/master builder, Andrea Palladio, 1508-1580 popularized this architectural motif.) The panelists will discuss Charlestonian architectural styles such as the Single House to examine the ‘health benefits’ of this design. The Art of Healing discussions include interactive discussions with the audience, which are always engaged and intimate.

This is sure to be an interesting and lively discussion, and a cocktail reception will follow the discussion.

Art of Design 2014

Flowers by Gretchen Cuddy for the 2014 Art of Design luncheon

One December 10 at 6pm, the Art of Healing: Flower Power will be held at the Thomas Bennett House on 69 Barre Street. Dr. Hallett will be joined by floral design expert Gretchen Cuddy as well as Clara Varga-Gonzales of Tiger Lily Florist. Cuddy and Varga-Gonzales will discuss why flowers and horticulture appeal to our senses and discuss why implementing natural elements in the home and other buildings can promote well-being.
Amanda Breen, Membership Coordinator

Marketing and Public Relations in the Art World

Interning for the Gibbes Museum of Art this summer has been the experience of a lifetime. Not only did an incredible museum and staff surround me, but also I was able to confidently declare Public Relations as my dream occupation. I was fortunate enough to work for Amy Mercer, the Marketing and Communications Manager at the Gibbes, in assisting her during this exciting time of change for the museum. Mrs. Mercer informed me early on that this summer would be a different internship experience than those from the past, due to the upcoming 16-month renovation. However, this period of transition was the perfect time for me to learn more about marketing and public relations in the real world.

Rose Cochran

Marketing Intern Rose Cochran with her favorite painting by John Westmark, The Catch

My initial tasks included updating Facebook posts, taking pictures for Instagram, and creating a Vine account for the museum. Shortly after I was organizing press releases, promoting events, and attending branding workshops, all of which were fantastic learning opportunities. Because the Gibbes Museum is a non-profit organization, support from the community is a necessity. I watched Mrs. Mercer work endlessly and passionately to promote the museum in a positive way during this exciting time. My eyes were opened to the influence that each word has in an organization’s mission statement. These messages are chosen carefully in order to fully exemplify the organization’s goal. I was lucky enough to observe this process during a crucial time and assist the staff in researching a branding strategy for the Gibbes Museum.

During this internship I also learned that event planning is a critical component of public relations. The two departments work together in order to involve the community and benefit the museum. The programs and events that the Gibbes offers are all unique, educational, and fun. These events are constantly celebrating local talent and inviting the public to join in. With each program, the Gibbes creates a stimulating event that always affects the community in a positive and uplifting way.

Art of Healing with John Westmark

Art of Healing discussion with John Westmark

One of my favorite programs currently offered by the Gibbes is the Art of Healing, sponsored by Roper St. Frances Healthcare. This program is paving the way for people to understand the influence that art can have during a healing process. The Gibbes has created a lending collection of 22 paintings, currently being used at the Roper Rehabilitation Hospital. Local artists have donated these works for hospitalized patients to hang in their rooms during their stay. The hope is that these paintings will provide relief to the distressed and facilitate their recovery process. The Gibbes also offers panel discussions with local doctors to speak about current exhibitions, and how art can benefit us in our daily lives. My exposure to the Art of Healing began with an informative and inspiring panel discussion with artist John Westmark. Psychiatrist Linda Austin and Dr. Jeb Hallet discussed the art of healing in relation to Westmark’s exhibit Narratives earlier this summer. Not only is the Gibbes  providing the city of Charleston with a beautiful museum full of wonderful history, they are also providing an outlet of relief through art.

The Gibbes Museum of Art will continue to grow, inspire and change lives. The upcoming renovation will provide the public with a creative learning center while remaining an establishment that cherishes the community and Charleston’s history. I feel incredibly proud and accomplished to have interned for such a remarkable organization and I wish the museum all the best in the years to come.

Rose Cochran, Rising Sophmore at Sewanee, Marketing Intern, and Guest Blogger

The Art of the Sea with Val Kells

Marine Science Illustrator Val Kells is an ‘obsessive compulsive’ fisherman. A photo of Kells on her website shows her proudly displaying a Permit that she caught off Cudjoe Key in 2011. “I take a photograph of every fish I catch before I release it,” she says.

Val Kells

Marine Science Illustrator Val Kells at home on the water

Kells is a full-time, highly trained, freelance scientific illustrator with over 30 years of professional experience. She works closely with educational, design, and curatorial staff to produce accurate and aesthetic scientific and interpretive illustrations. She has created over 2,000 illustrations for a wide variety of clients including publishers, designers, master planners, museums, nature centers, and public aquariums and is the coauthor of A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes – from Maine to Texas. “This comprehensive guidebook to all of the fishes found along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts should become an integral part of the library of any naturalist, angler, or fish enthusiast,” says Edward O. Murdy, National Science Foundation.

Val Kells Book Cover

A comprehensive guide book to coastal fishes

She is currently working on the Pacific coast version which will include close to 800 species and will be published in the spring of 2016. These comprehensive books are used in classrooms, labs, and on boats by students, scientists, and nature lovers. “I love when people send me photographs of themselves on a boat with a fish in one hand and my book in another,” she says. Kells says her work is ongoing and she will unlikely run out of subjects to illustrate.

Kells’ research is meticulous and each illustration can take up to a full day to complete. She works from her studio in Virginia with the support of an extensive network of associates and colleagues across the country.  She begins with a preliminary pencil drawing to ‘work out the kinks’ paying close attention to the morphology of the species from the number of scales to the placement of fins. When she is satisfied, she transfers the drawing to watercolor paper and begins to paint. “I go into a Zen mode at this point. I turn on some Bruce Springsteen and paint until it’s done.”

Kells began drawing as a very young girl in Rye, New York, and studied art throughout high school. “I also had a deep love of the natural environment from the time I was young. And when my parents sent me to a summer camp in the Florida Keys, I decided that I wanted to be a marine biologist,” she adds. After studying Marine Biology at Boston University, she transferred to UC Santa Cruz in 1983 and ‘fell upon’ the (then) newly established Science Illustration Program where she was able to combine her two loves: art and science. One of her first clients was the Monterey Bay Aquarium and since then she has worked with over 25 aquariums and museums around the country including the Florida State, Long Beach, and North Carolina aquariums. Kells also worked for our own South Carolina Aquarium when it first opened.

One of the best compliments she received was when a woman mistook her paintings for photographs. Her illustrations are precisely detailed and she says, “The artwork I create cannot be produced by photographic or digital means.” She enjoys working with fishes that are unusual and mimic coral or those that have evolved in fascinating ways. “I also love painting iridescent fishes like Billfishes, Tunas, and Mackerels because they allow the watercolor to do what it does best.” The love of her work and the fishes she carefully constructs on paper is evident in each illustration.

During her upcoming discussion “Art of the Sea” at the South Carolina Aquarium, she will discuss the continuing value of original drawings and paintings in a visual world awash with digital photographs.  Join us for another fabulous Art With a Twist Event to hear Val Kells speak about her creative process on September 24 at 6:30 pm!

For more information about Val Kells visit: www.valkellsillustration.com

Location:  SC Aquarium, 100 Aquarium Wharf

Reception and Book Signing will follow.

$20 Members, $30 Non-Members

Science + Art + Poetry= Creative Kids

It has been quite some years since I spent a week at summer camp, much less a week inside a school during the middle of the summer.  I have never been expected to combine museum art, music, science, and writing as a student, much less a teacher, but a few weeks ago all that changed.

As a writer, I often respond to art through “Ekphrasis,” a dramatic, literary description of visual work of art.  And I love to teach that exploration of the known and unknown to others.  When Engaging Creative Minds said they were putting a camp together for this summer that was all about putting the arts and science together (read geek here) for kids, I said “Sign Me Up!!”  About the same time, I met Elise Detterbeck and Rebecca Sailor of the Gibbes Museum and learned about the art education program, and when we spoke about the possibility of collaboration at some point, the hair on the back of my neck stood up.  I have learned to trust this instinct.  It does not denote fear to me. It is the actual feeling of YES, do this, take this path. And that is how the partnership between the Gibbes Museum and my teaching for this summer’s STEAM Camp began.

STEAM

Summer STEAM camp at the School of the Arts

For the week of Gravity, Static Electricity, Magnetism, and Force students, 50-plus 3rd graders and I wrestled images, our bodies, words, and music, and then wrested poems and drawings that invited these concepts of science and the arts to play in our classroom.  I admit that at the beginning, I was daunted by the initial attempt to line up still images from the Gibbes’ collections with these science principles.  Not only because these concepts demand a sense of actual physical movement, but because as a writer and teacher, I wanted my students to understand that these science words, especially gravity and force, mean more than what is seen in a science lab.  This is what the arts bring to the mind, the imagination, the heart.  If I could not give them a glimpse of what else a vortex or a game of tug of war might mean on that “other” level, I would feel I had not done my job.

Each day at camp we began with scientific definitions, of dictionary definitions. We imagined what color gravity is, how static electricity tastes, how magnetism sounds, how force smells, what they all feel like to touch, to be touched by them. Then we looked at the image-texts provided by the Gibbes for us, and let our wonder spill out into our bodies and onto paper.  It is very important to keep 3rd – 5th graders moving!

On day one, we talked about gravity, what holds us and what holds us down and about defying gravity, as we looked at Eden’s Wizard of Oz Series “Inside the Witches House.” Day 2, we stepped up to the Smart Board and mimicked Hagerty’s “Moving with Time” as we became the characters of the painting, then morphed into another version of them, at the imagined touch of static electricity. Day 3 we explored the mystery of Lawrence’s “Accident” up close to the projected image, leaned in and considered what drew us towards both scary and joy-filled events. On Day 4, we spoke of forces, forces for good, forces for evil, making choices and where that force comes from inside of us, with Jansen’s “Lego Bricks” man.

Accident 1946 by Jacob Lawrence

Accident 1946 by Jacob Lawrence

Then we wrote. Each student wrote a 5 line poem, a Cinquain that combined the ideas, concepts, words we had explored that day. We wrote to the art we had seen, the music I played for them that, like the Gibbes’ images gave another contextual avenue to their imaginations. Then we drew. We “pictured” the scientific concepts as objects, just as the Gibbes’ images offered possibilities our brains tied to them.  It was glorious to watch, to hear their minds bend and dance around, (and to watch some of their counselors get as excited as the kids) as they found new ways to conceive ideas, to breathe life into pens and into markers on a blank page.  I wish you could have seen them, the frowns of concentration, the smiles of ah-ha!

On the last day of camp, before they read their poems and showed their drawings to the rest of the camp, and some parents who came to cheer them on, we reviewed concepts of science and writing. We recalled how onomatopoeia is like static electricity, how magnetism pulls and pushes, how each image from the Gibbes made us go, “WOW!”  Then we wrote a poem together, a class poem, that combined all our senses, all our concepts, all our imaginations—the one thing I told them they must bring to class each day. And then, I gave the students markers and pens and the gift of play-dough, (which they could take home courtesy of Engaging Creative Minds) turned on some music, and let them 3-D something, anything they had learned.

I am not an art teacher. What they made was not fine-tuned with artistic skill past what they owned instinctually. But when they molded a piece into the space between two tables, out of curiosity, and discovered what it would do to the clay, giving them a whole new direction to play towards; or when they made a concrete object out of a concept and explained it to the class in simple, eloquent words that intertwined definition #1 with definition #2 or #3, then I could go home, tired, good tired, and smile too.  It was a good week, a hard week sometimes, but each of us grew. Each child and adult who brought their imaginations with them, let them out to play together in the space where the arts meets the sciences, stretched ourselves in ways we might never have imagined, had we not joined our forces, forces for good.

Mary Hutchins Harris, Poet and Guest Blogger

Check the calendar for a full listing of fall classes for adult and children

The Gibbes Museum of Art Receives $100,000 from The Henry Luce Foundation for the Re-installation of the Permanent Collection

The Gibbes Museum of Art has received a grant award in the amount of $100,000 from the prestigious Henry Luce Foundation for the reinstallation and reinterpretation of the permanent collection as part of the Gibbes renovation. The renovation will begin in early fall of 2014, and is designed to showcase the museum’s distinguished collection and afford a complete picture of American visual culture in the South from the early colonial era to the present. The Luce Foundation is committed to supporting the continued vitality of American art scholarship and programs, and this grant strengthens the Gibbes’ commitment to generating scholarship and exhibitions that promote a broad understanding of the dynamic role that the art of the South plays in the larger context of American and world art history.

Rendering of the Renovated Museum

Rendering of the Renovated Museum

“We are thrilled to receive this grant from the Henry Luce Foundation for the reinstallation of our collection. The highly regarded Henry Luce American Art program has supported significant projects including the reinstallation of the permanent collection at a number of museums, including the Andy Warhol Museum in 2014 and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in 2013. We are honored to be included in this selection of esteemed institutions,” says Gibbes Museum of Art Executive Director, Angela Mack.

The newly expanded and renovated galleries will provide a 30% increase in gallery space to showcase more than 600 works of art from the permanent collection (a 125% increase in works on view). The Grand Gallery, with its original Beaux Arts skylight, will showcase early American art of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In the newly expanded South Galleries, innovative display cases and open storage cabinetry will allow for up-close interaction with over three hundred portrait miniatures by some of America’s most significant miniature painters as well as a number of French émigré and British artists painting American sitters. The newly expanded North Galleries will feature several works that demonstrate the national shift in American art from academic painting to impressionism. While steeped in history, the Gibbes collection also reflects the artists and artistic styles representative of contemporary Southern art. The Garden Gallery will feature works by late twentieth-century and early twenty-first century artists native to the south or working in this region. The central rotunda gallery will serve as a sculpture hall.

Mary Roberts miniature

A miniature by Mary Roberts from our permanent collection. Unidentified sitter (possibly Sarah Wilkinson Middleton), ca. 1745. By Mary Roberts (American, ?-1761)Watercolor on ivory. Bequest of Mrs. Amelia Josephine Emanuel

 

“Gaining funding from a prestigious organization like the Luce Foundation is truly an honor. A chief goal of Luce is to support exemplary American art collections so their support and recognition is a real compliment to the significance of our permanent collection,” Says Sara Arnold Gibbes Museum of Art Curator of Collections.

Henry Luce Foundation – New York, New York

The Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., to honor his parents who were missionary educators in China. The Foundation builds upon the vision and values of four generations of the Luce family: broadening knowledge and encouraging the highest standards of service and leadership.

The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious and art communities.

Amy Mercecr, Marketing and Communications Manager

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