Last month, Eva Wagner and I coordinated a field trip to the University of Maine Museum of Art for the Penobscot County Homeschoolers. Eva is the Education Coordinator for the museum. She is amazing, gentle, and brilliant. And I am sort-of the “creator” of the homeschool group … which I think I created mostly to take advantage of getting together for fun field trips. This trip was one of my favorites so far. It was such a lovely, well designed, engaging and informative visit for all ages … thanks to Eva.
Kids who attended ranged in age from 6-17 years old … and at one count, I believe there were at least 16 kiddos. It was a great turn out … and several new relationships formed.
Eva designed a couple of interactive activities that took the kids through the museum exhibits … helping them to engage with the art displays. During the first activity, she had the entire group try to figure out the media used in the artwork of Richard Haden. This was particularly trying, as each piece literally looked liked discarded junk. But each piece was intricately cut wood sculptures formed to look similar to items that we toss away … or “junk”. This was a hit with the kids … who tried hard to figure out the artist could possibly cut wood to look like a deflated basketball.
The next activity had the group try to figure out the theme of one of the installations. This particular installation was curated by the Young Curators group that meets at the museum on a regular basis. These kids aged 9 and up come together to create exhibits from works that are owned by the museum … each time coming up with a different theme. Our group was pretty good at guessing what the theme was … their observations were quite impressive.
The third activity was likely the most popular, Eva passed out adjectives to individuals and groups of kids … encouraging them to find a piece of art that they thought exemplified the word they were given. Once all the kids found their art piece, and placed their given word underneath it, we went around the museum, listening to the kids tell us why they had chosen that particular piece to go with their word. It was wonderful and enlightening to see what they chose and to listen to their reasoning.
I was beaming when I listened to Isaac explain his choice. There is so much to be learned about your child by discussing art with them …
All of the kids had such great insights into the art that spoke to them. It was an absolute pleasure to watch children so engaged with the art around them. The enthusiasm was more than I expected. And much appreciated.
Lastly, it was time to gather in the classroom for making some art of their own. For this exercise, the group was introduced to the three-dimensional works of Chris Natrop and then given the tools to create their own three-dimensional piece. At the beginning of this exercise (and long beforehand) Isaac had decided that he does not make art and will therefore not participate. This has always been an issue between us as he knows I am dying for him to create with me. But I found the secret to getting his creative juices flowing … have him join his friends to create art! He now proudly displays the work he created this day on a wall in his room. Progress!
What a perfect field trip. Truly. I can’t say enough about Eva Wagner, The University of Maine Museum of Art, the donors that make it possible for the entire community to attend for free, etc. Do yourself a favor and take a stroll through Bangor’s own Art Museum. And bring the kids!