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.