The Museum is thrilled to introduce its latest permanent installation in the John and Joyce Caddell Sculpture Garden to the River Region. The Children’s Gate (2019) is a gift of the City of Montgomery in honor of the Montgomery art community.
This brightly-colored work of art was crafted by Montgomery-based artist Vincent Buwalda (American, born 1965). Situated between the Sculpture Garden and the Education Courtyard, the Gate consists of playful robots welded from steel. Buwalda’s inventive design will spark the imagination of people of all ages, encouraging all who enter the Education Courtyard to unleash their own creativity.
Mayor Todd Strange and the Museum initiated the commission to celebrate local artists with the permanent placement of a work of art in the Garden. The Sculpture Garden Committee unanimously selected Buwalda’s design from the call for proposals put forth by the Museum and the Montgomery Business Committee on the Arts.
On Thursday, June 6, Mayor Todd Strange and the Museum’s Director Angie Dodson presented the Gate to local children, Museum supporters, the Sculpture Garden Committee, the Montgomery Business Committee on the Arts, and members of the media.
Vincent Buwalda, (American, born 1965), The Children’s Gate, 2019, urethane paint on welded steel, Gift of the City of Montgomery, Todd Strange, Mayor, 2019.6
2017–2018 School Year
The close of the school year marks two milestones for the Museum—a successful first year of Becoming Alabama: A Cultural Legacy, a tour for Montgomery Public School fifth graders designed to celebrate the bicentennial of Alabama, and the fifth year of the Learning Through Art: Artist in Residence Program weekly art classes at Wares Ferry Road Elementary School. Both engage students in creating and responding to art while making important cross-curricular connections.
Becoming Alabama explores the narrative of Alabama history through art in the Museum’s galleries and creative activities. Learning Through Art incorporates student-led discussion and writing about art along with creating. A teacher at Wares Ferry, whose classroom is impacted by the program, recently encouraged the Museum to “continue to integrate art in all schools for tracking critical thinking skills.”
Teachers, for more information, please contact Kaci Norman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learning Through Art is funded in part by a grant from the Central Alabama Community Foundation.
As fall transitions into winter, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts’ calendar heats up with free tours, classes, films, and other captivating events. Throughout the month of November, we are hosting entertaining activities for our community. Below is a preview of what you can expect.
Are you looking for something fun, creative, and educational to do but don’t have time to book an MMFA studio class?
Many of the Education Department’s DIY projects are on our Pinterest page! These are great at-home projects that you can do with your child or your friends using regular household items. Our Hans Grohs-themed project below ties into our exhibition now on view, Hans Grohs and the Dance of Death. Your spooky cat or pumpkin will be a great addition to your Halloween celebrations!
Visit our Pinterest page to get step-by-step instructions!
The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts has lots of wonderful volunteers and docents who donate countless hours to a variety of programs year in and year out. In the first “Volunteer Voices” blog post, volunteers and docents answered the question “What drew you to the museum to share your time and energy?” We received so many wonderful answers, we decided to continue the blog posts and create a series. This second installment of “Volunteer Voices” is dedicated to the question “Do you have a favorite or most rewarding moment with visitors of the museum?”
Take a look at some of the responses from Docents and Volunteers below on their favorite or most rewarding moments at the MMFA, and leave some of your own in the comments!
“When the Uribe exhibit was here recently, I captured several people and took them to see the exhibit. They thanked me profusely. The same is true for other exhibits.” Frances Durr, Docent
“Several years ago I was giving a gallery tour to a 1st grade class and right before they were to leave the entire class gave me hugs!!!” George Jacobsen, Docent (featured right)
“I have had lots of great conversations with visitors about lots of different exhibits.” Meili Wang, First Impressions Desk
“I enjoy seeing children learn.” Penny Thompson, Docent
“The kindergarteners’ insightful observations, seeing the excitement as they explore a piece of art for the first time.” Frank Gitschier, Docent, After a Cakewalk gallery tour (featured right)
“I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping visitors that come into the museum. If I can provide information that enhances their visit I have done my job.” George Childress, First Impressions Desk
“Any time a kid walks into the museum.” Liz Land, Docent (featured below)
“I like it all. The best part of volunteering for the museum is working with staff and other volunteers to help the patrons have a good experience when they visit.” Luigi Edwards, Special Events Volunteer
We look forward to your stories and the next installment of “Volunteer Voices” very soon!
Looking for a craft project for your young ones this holiday season?
Follow these step by step directions to make your own holiday tree sculpture. If you feel inspired, please sign up for our Holidays in the Studio, where we will instruct you in making more seasonal art projects!
various shades of green felt, cut into simple leaf shapes
dowel rod glued to the wooden scraps to make a stand
paper cone cup
small yellow foam triangles
hot glue gun and appropriate glue stick;
If you do not have dowel rods or wooden scraps, the tree can be made even simpler using just the cone cup with no stand!
Place a large glob of hot glue on top of the dowel rod stand and quickly push the paper cup into place.
Begin the first layer of felt towards the bottom of the cup.
Add hot glue to the cup before pressing on each felt piece, overlapping slightly so that none of the bottom of the cup shows.
Add the second layer of felt pieces in the same manner, working from the top point of the cup, overlapping down onto the already placed bottom layer of felt.
Add dabs of tacky glue wherever desired on your tree; then press on the sequins of your choice as decoration.
Use tacky glue to glue the triangle pieces together to resemble a star, then glue into place on the tree.
Project variations: Use a pre-made star if desired! If you would rather the tree be natural with no ornament decoration, glue on small white craft pom poms as snow! Please be sure to join us for Holidays in the Studio for more crafting fun.
On September 17, MMFA Docent Jiyeon Suh led a dynamic Korean-language gallery talk in the exhibition Journey Through the Collection: Docent Choices. She focused on a section of the exhibition called Remembering the Past, which includes art that addresses American history from the Native American experience to the Civil Rights Movement. I was lucky enough to be a participant and occasionally heard an English phrase such as “Manifest Destiny” or “flappers” which gave me a sense of the conversation. At the end I asked Jiyeon, “Did you mention Kevin Costner?” and a few other questions . . .
“What is something about American history as represented in the exhibition that you find particularly interesting?”
Jiyeon: “At the beginning of the gallery talk, I introduced the idea that learning about the major conflicts that define American history helps to understand the social and cultural shifts in this country’s relatively brief history. We looked at representations of the Civil War, First World War, and Second World War during the gallery talk. Korean audiences can follow the timeline of American history easily because there are many close relationships to our national history.”
“What connections to popular culture did you make in the galleries to help people understand the works of art?”
J: “While we were looking at a painting of Plains Indians beside a portrait of a Confederate Solider, I talked about Dances with Wolves, since native cultures and the Civil War are at the heart of the movie. We also examined works from the 20s and 30s, and I made connections to The Great Gatsby, which is very well-known in Korea, and a more recent Korean film, Assassination, which is set in 1933.”
“What is your message to your friends about enjoying the Museum?”
J: “The Museum is a wonderful gift to all of the families in Montgomery. I love the people I meet at the Museum, connecting with my fellow volunteers, and the passion for art here!
With a Korean audience, I like to emphasize that by learning more about American art, history, literature, music, movies, and current issues we can better relate to our children and help them with everything they are studying in school. It also gives us fun topics to discuss at home! “
Many people are looking forward to hearing more from Jiyeon and her perspective on American culture in Journey Through the Collection very soon.
– Alice Novak, Curator, with Jiyeon Suh
The excitement is mounting! On Thursday evening, August 27 the first ever docent organized and curated exhibition will open. In May of 2014, our docent corps of 45 members was given the unique opportunity of creating an exhibition from beginning to end. It was decided to break down this task into several committees: Selection and Installation, Education Programming, Research and Writing, and Public Relations and Development. All docents were asked for input and most volunteered for one or more of the committees. After many discussions and meetings, works were chosen and it was decided that our exhibition would be titled Journey Through the Collection: Docent Choices. When the selected works were reviewed, it was discovered that they fit into five different categories.
Remembering the Past offers a window into the past, illustrating how events from the past shaped our present and helped us to envision the future.
“Isms” and Styles showcases some of the stylistic trends in 20th-century art and describes these evolving theories in art.
How Do They Do It? helps answer questions the viewer might have about artists’ creative processes and techniques.
Echoes of the South reflects a diverse cultural and personal history that calls to mind the strong sense of place embodied in Southern culture.
A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words stimulates and challenges the viewer to look closer and discover the stories within each work.
During this process, the docents not only became familiar with MMFA’s entire collection but discovered the amount of preparation and work that it takes to mount an exhibition. After the works were selected, labels were researched and written to help the viewer get a better understanding of the exhibition’s content.
Public Relations and Development not only helped secure funding for the exhibition but made it possible to spread the word through various types of media. The Education Programming committee planned audio tours of some of the works, created a studio activity to be used during Family Day, and arranged for speakers for short courses that will cover the five categories. There will also be a gallery talk in Korean for our local Korean community. All of this could not have been accomplished without the help, support, and enthusiasm of the entire MMFA staff. Thank you.
On 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.
The 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.
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.
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.
Tribal 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.
In 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.
We 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.