Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Explorations of The Civil War: Unfolding Dialogues to Continue Through the Winter Season

Groups from on and off campus, including students, teachers, and many public visitors, have integrated the Addison’s exhibition The Civil War: Unfolding Dialogues into explorations, conversations, projects, and curricula throughout the fall, and we’re excited to announce that these collaborations will continue as the exhibition will remain on view through April 15, 2012!

Just as The Civil War: Unfolding Dialogues explores the varying perspectives, both historical and contemporary, that compose the evolving narrative of this seminal event, the connections made by various groups compose a larger picture about the possible impact of these explorations on curriculum and historical thinking.

Phillips Academy US History classes explored images by such artists as Alexander Gardner and Winslow Homer as primary source documents and researched themes illuminated in the exhibition. Digging deep into topics such as race relations to the impact of technology on the making of Civil War images, students led their own tours of the exhibition for their peers. (Image credit: Alexander Gardner, Abraham Lincoln in 1863, albumen print, gift of Peter Schrager (PA 1945), Addison Gallery of American Art)

Phillips Academy English classes explored questions of which historical events are commemorated, how, and from whose perspective. Journalism classes connected the roots of photojournalism present in the Civil War photographs and newspapers with the current state of media images and ethics. A philosophy and religious studies class used the work of contemporary artists Kara Walker and Glenn Ligon to spark conversations about oppression and resistance. (Image credit: Kara Walker, Exodus of Confederates from Atlanta, from Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated), 2005, offset lithograph with screenprint, purchased as the gift of Katherine and Stephen C. Sherrill (PA 1971), Addison Gallery of American Art)

Middle and high school history classes from public schools in the Merrimack Valley and Boston have joined us to explore The Civil War: Unfolding Dialogues and the related Addison fall exhibition, RFK Funeral Train Rediscovered: Photographs by Paul Fusco to discuss what images can reveal about United States history. One high school’s literature, visual art, and history classes visited concurrently and discussed the subjectivity of recorded history and how we construct our interpretations of these documentations, thereby constructing our own understandings of history.

Teachers and adult groups have also explored and contextualized this exhibition, including a public gallery talk led by Assistant Curator Jaime DeSimone and Phillips Academy Instructor in History and Social Science Christopher Jones. Teachers from the local community and beyond participated in workshops in which they were asked to draw inspiration from the fall exhibitions in designing a commemoration to honor a local, national, or historic event while considering the impact and implications of asking students to participate in history.

We look forward to continuing these conversations and starting many more as The Civil War: Unfolding Dialogues continues and as the new winter exhibitions open in late January.

Posted by:
Jamie Kaplowitz,
Education Associate and Museum Learning Specialist