Monday, July 16, 2012

Greetings from the Addison Gallery's new Curator of Education

Greetings from the Addison Gallery of American Art’s new Curator of Education Rebecca Hayes

It’s wonderful to be back at the Addison Gallery of American Art after 16 years! After starting my career in museum education at the Addison in 1995, I went on to work at the Peabody Essex Museum, the Williams College Museum of Art, and the American Folk Art Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, both in New York. I’m thrilled to return to my native Merrimack Valley and to a museum that has been deeply committed to education since its founding 80 years ago.

The Addison’s incredible collection and innovative exhibitions make the museum a unique part of Phillips Academy, the local community, and the larger world. Our mission as a teaching museum and commitment to sharing the collection with as broad an audience as possible is what inspired my career in museum education. It has been a rewarding experience for me to reconnect with former colleagues and friends in the community, and heartening to see that our local partnerships from 16 years ago continue to flourish as new ones develop. I am looking forward to an exciting year of programs and collaborations with the Phillips Academy community and educators, students, and members of our local community organizations.

The opportunity to work at the Addison is particularly exciting to me because of the museum’s commitment to sustained collaborations with our partner schools. For example, this past year the Addison Gallery collaborated with first grade teacher Mary Guererro and her students at the Henry K. Oliver School in Lawrence to conduct a yearlong investigation exploring the question “What can art be?” Students reflected on what type of objects and mediums can be considered art based on both their aesthetic and functional qualities. Students visited the Addison to examine and discuss a variety of artworks such as an Alexander Calder mobile, Hudson River School paintings, the seascapes of John Marin, drawings and writings by Elizabeth Enders, and the sculptures by Dale Chihuly on the Addison’s green roof.

Students also created artwork twining colorful yarn around sticks collected in their local landscape (attached to written memories), painted rocks with fantastic shades of color, and designed their own elaborate mobiles. Each week during the months of May and June, students traveled to a new location in their community to curate and install their artwork in a temporary exhibition. Students used their day books to create detailed maps for each of their journeys from the school to exhibition sites and wrote about curating their artwork in each new location. Exhibition sites included the Lawrence Public Library, the steps of the Lawrence Heritage State Park, the basketball court across from the Oliver School, and the grounds at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, MA where students explored the whimsical sculptures of artist Gary Webb. The project culminated with a book detailing students’ artwork and writing and created collaboratively by Mary Guerrero and the Addison’s Kait Ziskin, Education Fellow for School and Community Collaborations.

Posted by:
Rebecca Hayes
Curator of Education