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Montgomery Museum of Fine Art

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Category: Education

Learning Through Art

LearningThroughArt#2On Tuesday, May 5, 125 excited third-grade students and their families filled the ARTWORKS corridor, proudly snapping pictures of the artwork installed up and down the hall. This happy occasion was the opening reception of the exhibition, Learning Through Art, featuring works of art created by each third-grade student at the Wares Ferry Road Elementary School during this past year as part of the MMFA Artist in Residence Program. One mother, when viewing her son’s artwork, was overheard exclaiming, “I never knew he could do artwork as good as that!” That comment was repeated many times as families viewed paintings of bright red flowers inspired by Georgia O’Keefe, trees painted in an Impressionist style, animals in clay relief, George Rodrigue inspired “blue” dogs, and other works of art in the exhibition.

The evening also included a special recognition ceremony for the students and teachers. When Mrs. Baker and Mr. Diggs, the homeroom teachers, gave each student an award certificate, the children paraded across the stage and lined up to have their pictures taken, even without prompting! Derek Murphy Jr. was recognized for his artwork included in a state competition sponsored by the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Timiya Harris, Willie Grant, and Kimberly Gudino were honored for having their artwork included in an exhibition of student art at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. that just opened and will be on view through June 30, 2015. The exhibition, Museums: pARTners in Learning 2015, is sponsored by the American Association of Museum Directors and the U.S. Department of Education, and celebrates innovative visual arts programming of museums with schools. The MMFA is one of 16 museums in the U.S. to have student work included in this exhibition.wfartists2

 

Learning Through Art#1The award ceremony ended with special thanks to Principal Ed Drozdowski and the outstanding MMFA art teachers, Jean Kocher and Laura Bocquin. Several members of the Montgomery Kiwanis Club were present in the audience and were recognized for their funding support of the program this year. With assistance from a National Endowment for the Arts grant, this unique program will continue and hopefully expand to additional classes next year.

 

Donna Pickens
Assistant Curator of Education for Children and Family Programs

 

Note: for those unfamiliar with the MMFA Artist in Residence Program, the Museum sponsors weekly art classes at the school, with lessons based on works of art in the Museum’s collection and related to the core curriculum. Professional artists from the River Region also visit the classes, teaching special techniques in drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, and sculpture. The curriculum includes Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) an inquiry-based teaching method, to encourage students’ critical thinking and literacy skills. During a recent visit to the Museum, the students demonstrated the skills they have learned from this approach, offering many astute observations about the original works of art in the galleries.

Native American Family Day 2015

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We held Poarch: History in Motion, our second Native American Family Day on Saturday and we certainly were in motion!  Over 1,000 visitors joined us for a full afternoon of activity. Several artisans were on hand helping the kids make decorated medallion necklaces, clay pinch pots and woven baskets in the Poarch tradition.

EV.NativeAM4blogTribal historian, Robert Thrower shared stories and showed Poarch artifacts to guests all afternoon. Through the objects he shared, he explained what life was like in the early days of the Tribe and some of their traditions.

In the field next to the Museum, the drumming group Medicine Tail played while members performed demonstrations of both Stomp Dancing and the elaborate Pow Wow Dances while the younger and more energetic attendees tried their hand at traditional Stick Ball, the predecessor of modern day lacrosse.

EV.NativeAM2blogIn the Rotunda, the premiere of a new photography exhibition Poarch: History in Motion was installed. Beautiful portraits by Karen Odyniec of tribal members were hung next to short stories about them with artifacts from Kerretv Cuko, the Poarch Band of Creek Indian Museum in Atmore.

 

EV.nativeAMERICAN-blogWe were delighted to partner with the Tribe again this year to present such a fun and informative day for the River Region, all of which was free.

Jill Barry
Deputy Director

 

Docent Road Trip to Birmingham

2015docenttrip1.blogDespite a foggy start, 20 docents and MMFA staff headed to the Birmingham Museum of Art on Friday morning, March 20. We were greeted by Dr. Robert Schindler, Curator of European Art, who led a fascinating tour of Small Treasures: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Their Contemporaries, an exhibition of small-format 17th-century paintings from the Dutch and Flemish Golden Age. The group discovered information about each work in the exhibition, the time frame in which they were created, and about the installation process itself. One of the highlights of the exhibition is Vermeer’s Girl with the Red Hat. As one of only three-dozen works created by Vermeer, this work is both incredibly rare and a perfect example of Vermeer and his craft. Dr. Schindler recounted how x-ray and neutron reflectography revealed that underneath Vermeer’s image lies a bust length portrait of a man with a wide brimmed hat. Before painting directly on the old portrait, Vermeer turned it upside down to avoid being excessively influenced by the image.

After the tour we had a delicious lunch at Oscar’s at the Museum with several of the BMA’s docents and educators, setting the stage for some great conversation.

Jumping back into our cars, the docents headed a few miles down the road to the new Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts (AEIVA) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. This impressive zinc & glass building opened in 2014 and houses the Department of Art & Art History as well as gallery space.  Registrar, Christina McClellan gave the docents insight into the two exhibitions currently there. Works of cut and painted paper by Michael Velliquette provided an atmosphere of color and whimsy. Mr. Velliquette was also the juror for the student exhibition in the next gallery space. The 39th Annual Student Juried Exhibition contains 55 works by student artists. It was great to see the talent, diversity, and imagination of these up and coming young artists!

All agreed it was a great day!

Gloria Simons
MMFA Volunteer Coordinator and Docent

 

Conversations with New Docents

At the MMFA, docents are volunteer guides who attend in-depth training sessions in order to provide tour services for visitors the Museum.  They also participate in guest lectures, supplemental programs, and support the Museum by maintaining current Museum membership. They come from diverse backgrounds and careers, have different levels of experience with art, and exhibit a variety of fine talents. The positive and professional group of incoming docents for 2014–2015 has already started leading tours and integrating themselves into the fabric of the Museum. Conversations with these volunteers reveal their passion for learning about art, their enthusiasm for engaging with young people, and their enjoyment of interaction with other docents and Museum staff. They are people who are willing to go above and beyond to serve their community.  My conversations with the new docent class are summarized below.

 

 

Julie GoolsbyJulie_Goolsby-blog

Julie was motivated to become a docent when she noticed her third grade students’ responses to the paintings at the MMFA. She was impressed by their excitement at visiting the museum as well as their insightful interpretations of the artwork. Julie enjoys learning about different artists, talking about paintings, and meeting new friends. She loves children and is obviously very excited about participating in the docent program.

 

Phyllis_Hall-blogPhyllis Hall

Although Phyllis has no formal background in art, she has always loved and appreciated the beauty of art, whether traditional or unorthodox. Jeannette Siegers, a volunteer at MMFA, recognized Phyllis’ love of literature and encouraged her to come on board at the Museum. After taking an online look at the program, Phyllis contacted Alice Novak, who encouraged her to visit the Museum and to sit in on a discussion session. Phyllis enjoys the docent training, in particular hearing the stories behind the compositions, learning how different time periods of art history are reflected in the artists’ works, and mostly just learning in depth about art from a more technical standpoint.

 

 Andy HuffmanAndy_Huffman-blog

It was at MMFA’s annual FLIMP Festival in May 2014 that Andy and her mother found out about the docent program from Pam Moulton, a long-serving docent. Interested, they decided to come and sit in on a training session. They liked what they heard and saw. Andy has been drawing most of her life and started painting in the 8th grade, or for about ten years now. As a painter, she enjoys learning about art and gaining inspiration for new styles and new subject matter with which to experiment. Moreover, she enjoys interacting with her fellow trainees as well as with children and adults. Andy considers her style of painting realistic; however, she is becoming drawn to the impressionist style.

 

Dorothy_Johnson-blogDorothy Johnson

Dorothy worked as an auditor with the Federal Government while traveling with her husband Dennis, who spent 22 years as a Commander in the U.S. Navy. When they returned to Montgomery in 1992, she began working at the Alabama State Bar, retiring from that position in August of 2014. Her friend Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, MMFA’s Curator of Art, suggested that Dorothy consider becoming a docent. She enjoys the training, especially the historical lessons behind the art, and now finds herself reading a lot more about history.

 

Rosemary McKenzieRosemary_McKenzie-blog

As a child, Rosemary traveled with her parents a lot, and they always visited museums. In college, she took art history courses and went to Europe where she was exposed to the art there. Previously, she was a docent in Laurel, Mississippi and loved the experience. When she moved here, her next door neighbor suggested that, because Rosemary loved art, she should consider becoming a docent at MMFA. She loves learning and talking about art, taking it apart piece by piece and examining the details. Rosemary was impressed by how many people came to the Museum for the recent Holiday Open House.

 

Nancy_Moss-blogNancy Moss

Nancy had never thought about being a docent before she came to the Museum’s book club, Ekphrasis, and listened as docents were talking about their experiences. There definitely was an air of excitement and sincerity, so she decided to give it a try. Nancy enjoys learning about art, for she knew very little before. Having retired, she has more time to think about art. She believes the MMFA is truly a public place, reaching out to all people of different age groups.

 

Mary Lil OwensMaryLil_Owens-blog

Mary Lil took two art history courses during her senior year of college—as an afterthought. She has always loved art and that is one reason she was interested in becoming a docent. She enjoys the art history lectures and discussions, and seeing the artwork “up close and personal” is wonderful. The MMFA, she notes, offers many opportunities for people to get involved. Clearly, the Museum is here for the community. Formerly, Mary Lil was a high school English teacher, track coach, (she was on the track team in high school), and lawyer.

 

Laura_Roth-blogLaura Roth

At the MMFA’s Ekphrasis book club meetings and a couple of short courses, Laura met some docents who encouraged her to become involved in the program. Her two sisters love art, and she has visited several well-known museums. Participating in the docent program, Laura loves learning the history of the paintings and finds the stories interesting. For twenty-five years, she was a teacher of third and fourth graders.

 

Penny ThompsonPenny_Thompson-blog

A former school librarian, Penny has much experience working with students. Thus far in her training, she has presented some Outreach sessions and is amazed at what students have to say about the art. Penny considers it a pleasure to visit the public school classrooms because the children are excited about coming to the MMFA. She loves listening to Alice Novak’s lectures, and enjoys learning in such a beautiful environment.

 

Eleanor Lee
New Docent Liaison

With African Art, the MMFA Welcomes a New Era in Collecting

EV.jazz.African.blogThe Museum celebrated a new collection and a new era in collecting with a series of events held between Thursday, October 23 and Sunday, October 26. The many participants over the three-day event were given a sense of the importance of the African acquisitions that are new to both the Museum and to the community.

On Thursday evening the Museum hosted a lecture by Professor Robin Poynor, a member of the faculty in the School of Art and Art History at the University of Florida. Professor Poynor discussed the roles playedEV.African.Poynor.blog by these newly acquired objects of African art in the lives of those who lived in traditional African societies. He showed many of the Museum’s woodcarvings, weavings, ceramics, and metal objects in the context of their use through photography depicting homes, communities, and public performances.   For the past year, Professor Poynor has served as the Museum’s consulting curator to select works of art for the collection, and to provide information and scholarship relative to their acquisition. He worked closely with the donors and with the Museum staff to create the exhibition Art for Life’s Sake: An African Collection for the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.

EV.African.Dileep.blogThe weekend events also included a Friday lunchtime presentation for the Museum’s Collectors Society that featured the collector and donor of the African art acquired as a gift by the Museum—Dileep Mehta of Atlanta, Georgia. As a professor of finance, Dr. Mehta traveled extensively, and worked over a period of many years to build his collection of African materials. On Sunday, the Museum hosted a combination Family Day for African Art, a Jazz Jams featuring the Jazz students in the program at BTW, as well as a EV.African.BTWdance.blogperformance by the BTW Dance Theater, Out of Africa. There were hands-on activities in the studios, artist’s demonstrations, and tours of the new African collection for the public.

This exciting weekend of programs caps off a season of exploration for our staff, docents, and public as we learned more about the wonderful objects that have now found a home in Montgomery. We look forward to sharing them often with our audiences.EV.African.HomerJ.blog

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator of Art

View highlights of the African Family Day here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAS-stIY540&list=UUr4m6_kMNuu97FChx2L00sA

 

 

 

Susan Vreeland makes a virtual appearance

On Wednesday, September 10, Susan Vreeland joined us for a Skype video discussion about her latest book, Lisette’s List: A Novel.

As we began our discussion, Vreeland positioned herself in front of the webcam to give us an intimate view of her appearance (although she jokingly admitted that the real reason was to hide her messy office). Vreeland captivated us with her wit and infectious humor as she shared with us background information about the novel, as well as personal anecdotes. For example, during her student years, Vreeland chose to study music appreciation rather than art. She attributed this outcome to her old roommate who complained about an art history course and the burden of having to remember so many dates and the monotony of slides that all seemed to blur together. Fortunately, this did not discourage her from learning about art, collecting art books, and traveling around the world to places like France to quench her thirst for the world’s finest art treasures. As Vreeland once remarked:

“Coming out of the Louvre for the first time in 1971, dizzy with new love, I stood on Pont Neuf and made a pledge to myself that the art of this newly discovered world in the Old World would be my life companion. Never had history been more vibrant, its voices more resonating, its images more gripping.”

A video tour of Roussillon, the setting for Vreeland’s novel

Most of Vreeland’s novels (with the exception of her first book What Love Sees) were inspired by art (thank goodness!) and Lisette’s List was another literary treat. Beginning in 1937, Lisette and her husband André Honoré Roux moved from Paris to the village of Roussillon to stay with Andre’s grandfather, Pascal, who owned paintings by Cezanne and Pissarro. Pascal, who worked in the ochre mines of Roussillon, provided frames for the artists in exchange for paintings. Pascal eventually passed away and André died unexpectedly during World War II, leaving Lisette alone to struggle through her bereavement, while continuing to search for a rare collection of modern art that mysteriously disappeared. In the process, she discovered the value of friendship, community, and the transformational power of art.

The novel was a wonderful story about modern art, culture, and regional history, but it was Susan Vreeland’s special appearance that made the story enduring and timeless.

Chinese Consul gets “lesson” in Arts Education at the MMFA

DSC-489_blogArt is looked at from a different perspective, at least when Yang Song compares what’s on display in China’s museums to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Song says, “This is wonderful. The visit is quite special, unlike other experiences in museums in Europe and China.”

Song is employed with the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China based in Houston, Texas. The Consul for Cultural Affairs came to Montgomery, August 21 through 23, for this year’s Dragon Boat races on the Alabama River. Upon his arrival into the Museum’s Rotunda, he seemed impressed with the plans for the MMFA’s new sculpture garden. A few steps further into the Permanent Collection he marveled over Mary Cassat’s Francoise in Green, Sewing, a little girl decked out in her Sunday best. Song says, “At first sight, you see such beauty here at the museum, it’s a good environment for visitors.”

We even caught him photographing Charles Lucas’ creations on the back grounds of the MMFA. As he discussed the sight with Curator Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, his face lit up when she told him the creatures on display were created from car parts. In fact, Song had to turn to his assistant to have it all translated into his native language to make sure he fully understood. Song says, “In China our museums are open to the public, but the buildings are huge. There is very limited interaction. Here it’s totally different. China could learn something from Montgomery, Alabama.”DSC-483_blog

DSC-495_blogThe China native also liked touring and photographing the large window in the Lowder Gallery, but he seemed most impressed with the educational experience our Artworks Gallery provides for children. He noted that museums in his native land are hard pressed to provide the kinds of experiences that the MMFA can give young visitors. The size of China’s population makes delivering art classes, services, and cultural experiences a challenge even in modern day China.

DSC-505_blogCynthia Milledge
Director of Marketing and Public Relations

 

Let the Sunshine In

One of the elements that creates “community” is the willingness to join with others volunteering time to make the world a better place, one person, one day, and one location at a time. That’s been the mission of all the amazing people who conceived and have delivered the program called Camp Sunshine for the past 25 years. Led by co-directors Laurie Weil and Kathy Sawyer, the volunteers come from all walks of life, professions, and age groups. Since 1989 they have created a loving, supportive, and magical environment for a group of 75 to 100 girls between the ages of 6 and 12. For a full week these girls, who otherwise have limited opportunities for summertime enrichment and fun, come together for recreation, friendship, and mentoring, as well as some cleverly designed learning opportunities, disguised as pure enjoyment.

SunshineCamp_blogFor many years the MMFA has provided a mid-week experience for the campers (in conjunction with our neighbors at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival). Delivering a quality program for these girls is both a mission and a privilege that our own long-time volunteer docents have embraced. The girls receive tours of the galleries, time in ARTworks, as well as a special studio experience under the guidance of our docents.  Some of these docents, including Pat Wanglie who is pictured here, have been helping with Camp Sunshine for more than 15 years. As with all our work with young people, we see the difference that exposure to art and an attentive guide can make. The excitement of these girls says it all.

The Museum is another example in which volunteers are the life-blood of the institution within the community. The hours of time that are donated to Camp Sunshine and the Museum make possible experiences that both enrich and can literally change the world-view of a child, giving them the self-confidence and insight to dream big. For each and every one who volunteers, this volunteerism is a way to honor the community and, as the motto of Camp Sunshine says, “Make the World a Better Place.”

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator of Art

Ending on a High Note

The monthly book club, Ekphrasis, ended the season on a high note! Margaret Lynne Ausfeld curator of art gave a stimulating presentation about the life of Zelda Fitzgerald (Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler), beginning with music – Witchy Woman by the Eagles (“woo hoo witchy woman see how high she flies”) to set the mood – and proceeding with an exploration of Zelda’s life through photography and art in the Museum’s permanent collection.

zelda_bookclub_blogWith fifty people in attendance, the program’s success was the culmination of a tremendous year, which included Skype discussions with prominent authors Susan Vreeland (Life Studies: A Novel), Ross King (The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade that Gave the World Impressionism), and special visiting author Nancy G. Heller (Why a Painting is Like a Pizza).

Stay tuned for another exciting year!

Timothy P. Brown
Curator of Education

FLIMP Festival 2014 is a hit in Montgomery

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Four hours of creative, innovative, and family-friendly entertainment attracted a crowd of more than 2300 spectators to this year’s 25th-annual FLIMP festival.  A cool breeze accompanied by plenty of sunshine made for a spectacular day, and the first partnership between the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and Booker T. Washington Magnet High School made it one to remember.

The question everyone asked during Saturday’s event was, “Exactly what is a FLIMP?”  Even though they weren’t sure of the answer, that didn’t stop participants from getting their faces IMG_1383wpainted, making and breaking piñatas, or enjoying other arts and crafts.  Just when you thought you had seen it all, nearly two-dozen dogs, decked out from head to paw, strolled through the parking lot for the return of the Do-Dah parade. That procession actually helped four canines get adoptedIMG_1235w from the Montgomery Humane Society.

The echoes of voices from BTW’s choir and the melodies from the school’s band filled the air as everyone walked the grounds of the MMFA.  For those who didn’t want to be outside, no worries, there was plenty of entertainment on the inside of the Museum.  Who knew you could take an animal’s bones and other objects and turn them into a jam session?  Drummer Dave Holland showed a packed gallery, how to do just that.  Holland even let them volunteer to be part of his percussion section.

As this year’s festival came to a close, the reminder of two fun-filled days shared among local students and adults remained on display from 2014’s Chalk Art competition. If you drive out right now, you might still be able to get a glimpse of the chalk artists’ transformation of the front parking lot into an art gallery.

However, don’t worry if you missed out on all the fun this year. The FLIMP Festival will take place at the same place and time next year. We will plan on welcoming you then.

Cynthia Milledge
Director of Marketing and Public Relations

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