Thursday, September 30, 2010

First Day of Classes!

And what a day it was!
The Addison Education Department has expanded by one. Namely, me! Hello, I’m Katherine Ziskin and I just began my stint as Education Fellow for School and Community Collaborations. I will be working primarily with schools and community groups in Andover and Lawrence as well as many other surrounding areas. We now have 50% more staff to accommodate the expanding interest in bringing classes and taking part in all of the opportunities that the new Addison makes possible.

September 16th was a busy day for the Addison Education Department as the first classes to visit the renewed, improved Addison came bounding up the front steps.

Our first class in the new Addison Gallery was the Kindergarten Prep class from The Children’s Place, a Bright Horizons center located on the campus of Phillips Academy. Mrs. O’s and Miss Sarah’s class has been studying circles this month, and as we discussed the architecture of the Addison, we counted all the circles in the rotunda (even noticing the room itself was round!). We also hypothesized about the fountain and the reasons there may be flowers around it.

“Sometimes the flowers need water.”
“So it [the fountain] could look pretty.”

Upstairs we ventured into the Presence gallery to see the painting we had discussed earlier in the month in the classroom, The Drummond Brothers by Benjamin West. We pointed out the differences between the picture of the painting we looked at in class and the one on the Addison’s walls.

“It’s [the one in the Addison] bigger!”
“It has a square around it.”

The students spent time differentiating between ornate (a new vocabulary word!) frames and less decorative ones. And, since the class will be curating their own collection of circle objects we took some time to think about how certain pieces of art were displayed. Some display questions included: “What would be the difference if this pedestal (another new word!) was painted in a dark color?” “What if they put the sculptures on the floor instead of the pedestal?”

We said goodbye to Kindergarten Prep knowing we would see them soon. They’re due back next month to see more of the exhibition, Inside, Outside, Upstaris, Downstairs, and we can’t wait!

Our very first Phillips Academy class also came in on Thursday. Emily Trespas’s ART500/Portfolio class joined us in the afternoon for a brief overview of the renewed Addison and a look inside the Museum Learning Center. We spent some time in the Document gallery discussing what it means to “document” and what a “document” might be. We also hypothesized about some of the paintings, photographs, and sculptures in the Industry and Construction galleries. We tried to define what aspects of composition and artist choice allowed for an art object to convey a certain mood. Why did some of the photographs feel alive and jubilant while others felt desolate and cold?

We made our way into the Museum Learning Center (MLC) where we discussed the possibilities for research in our improved library. But, the highlight of any Museum Learning Center visit these days seems to be watching Tristan Perich’s Machine Drawing draw itself! The drawing has been working on itself for three days now and it can’t be denied that it’s really coming along nicely. Perich, our current Edward E. Elson Artist-in-Residence (and PA alum) is a visual artist and composer inspired by the aesthetic possibilities of math and science. Using a hand-crafted two-motor machine, Perich programs his creation to draw; in this case on our brand new MLC walls!

All in all it was a rewarding and inspiring day and we look forward to the many groups from both Phillips and all over the area to come, explore, learn, and think in our re-opened galleries!

Posted by:
Katherine Ziskin
Education Fellow for School and Community Collaborations

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