Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Parading Through The Museum

The last few weeks feel as though they have been on fast forward! From our intense preparatory sessions with Student Programs, Family Programs, and Adult Programs to running around the museum making sure all of our objects were still on display - two weeks has absolutely flown by. We've met a lot of great people, wandered around, gotten lost, found our way - all while keeping our heads on straight! I can confidently say I know my way around the museum, I know where the elevators are, and where the secret water fountains are hidden, and I now notice when a work of art has been taken off of the wall (to my surprise).

For Family Programs we had to start thinking about tours that we wanted to give that would cater to children ages 6 and up, with special attention to the adults and other family members going on the tour. The theme I picked was shapes in art, and I chose to focus on three pieces:

Paris Street; Rainy Day
by Gustave Caillebotte

The Stack of Wheat Series
by Claude Monet
The Avery Coonley Playhouse Window
by Frank Lloyd Wright

Though the tour I did was the abbreviated version of the full length thirty-minute gallery walk, I brought my group the Frank Lloyd Wright triptych window where I led a discussion on the lines, shapes, and colors within the picture plane. The talk began with a brief reading of Eye Spy Shapes In Art, followed by having the families identify what it is that they were looking at - a window. I then had the families break down the piece visually by naming the different shapes and colors on the window! We talked about what images the window conjured for the viewer, coming to the conclusion that it had lollipops, flags, balloons, and confetti, settling on the conclusion that this window depicted a parade. Then came the interesting part - having the families hypothesize who the window was intended for based on the parade content. Was this window made for "grown ups" or kids? And if it was made for kids, where do you think it would hang? Non other than the experimental school in Riverside, Illinois - The Avery Coonley Playhouse. We came to the conclusion then that this window was meant to be a celebration of education, as well as an object worthy of stimulating the students' imaginations in the school house. 

Some Fun Facts about the piece:
1) Completely set on the idea of him becoming an architect, Frank Lloyd Wright's mother had him working with blocks at an early age. Some scholars suggest that these blocks are represented within the window as the building blocks of education - math, science, history, geography, etc.
2) Frank Lloyd Wright's son John Lloyd Wright invented Lincoln Logs.
3) The students at the Avery Coonley Playhouse learned non-traditional/gender neutral courses including sewing, woodworking, and theater, as well as spending a lot of time outside integrating themselves with nature.

After spending so much time thinking and talking about parades, I thought why not do a little bit of "field research" by going to a parade myself. With the Blackhawks Stanley Cup championship and the Pride Parade both in June I found myself with plenty of opportunities to get lost in a crowd experiencing confetti, floats, balloons, and plenty of flags! Here are some pictures!

From the Blackhawks Parade:

The Stanley Cup at the front of the trolley!

At the Pride Parade, I had the amazing opportunity to ride on one of the floats, AND IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!

Flags, beads, and dancing galore!
A view of the crowd from the float!
Me dancing like a crazy woman on the float!

So all in all, I've been having a lot of fun both in and out of the museum. More to come on the inner-workings of AIC! 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Three whirlwind weeks at the AIC!

After two weeks of intense training, and being shuttled between school, family and adult programs, we all have survived information overload and mock tours! Go us!

Even though we had heard that those two weeks would be tough from the past interns’ blog (thank you, thank you, thank you, by the way!), as well as from our supervisors, I’m pretty sure that we all just had to experience it for ourselves. Mock tours actually weren’t as terrifying as I thought that they would be! Don’t get me wrong…they were stressful and very time-consuming. But after actually standing up in front of the rest of this fabulous team of interns and our lovely supervisors, I felt much more comfortable with the idea of talking about art with various groups of people. Having just graduated, I have to get it out of my head that everything that I do here at the AIC is for a grade! The atmosphere among the interns and in the docent room is really nice. Everyone is here to help and encourage each other, and competition isn’t even involved! My kind of team! My biggest challenge in the next few weeks, I think, will be gauging how much kids already know at different ages, and adjusting my lesson plans to fit those different age groups. I have a feeling that there will be a lot of improvisation happening in my first few tours.

(Mary D., David, Sandy, Maya, Adrienne, and me (Mary H.) outside the Modern Wing)

It’s the start of week 3, and Jen and I had our first real tour yesterday morning! Although, overall, we both were very satisfied with how it went, it did not come without challenges. First of all, we usually deal with groups of students that are around the same age (within a year or two, ideally). This group consisted of kids ranging from kindergarten through fifth grade, even with a high schooler in attendance. It was very difficult to try to speak to everyone without feeling like we were belittling the older kids and boring the younger kids. We did the best we could, and everyone seemed pretty happy by the end of the tour. We did have some pretty funny comments from the little ones (I think we’re going to make a twitter account in connection with this page along the lines of “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”)

1) “I wish I could just marry this museum!”
2) “You know what most artists make? …Boobies.”

Ahh, the question of nudity in art when dealing with kids. Again, I had been warned that it would happen, and that these questions would arise. But until you hear a 6-year-old giggling about it and realize that you have to be the adult to answer questions about it, you don’t really know what you’re getting yourself into. I replied to this particular giggly 6-year-old with a tidbit about how artists see the human body as a part of nature, and that they need to see the human body to understand how muscles and bones work together, etc etc.

This morning, Jen and I had a very compliant group of first graders who were early (*gasp) for their tour! We kept our tour theme from yesterday, “Movement,” but swapped out a few objects this time around after figuring out that Monet’s Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare is in a very crowded gallery, and would be a difficult (and small) piece to monopolize with a bunch of 1st graders. From story-telling with Ganesha, to talking about Degas’s ballerinas and posing like the people in Sunday on La Grande Jatte, I’d say we feel pretty comfortable with our tour tactics! The kids seemed pretty excited, too.

Aside from giving tours, we also have a lot of other cool activities going on. Yesterday, we helped out with the AIC studio art table at the Taste of Chicago by helping kids and their families make themed hats and watercolor projects! Here are Mary D. and Maya modeling their own foodie hat creations while "intently researching:"

This afternoon, we also got a walk-through of the Prints and Drawings exhibit (and inside the vault!) with curator Mark Pascale. We all definitely geeked out when we saw a Degas pastel drawing and a few fabulous Toulouse Lautrec poster prints (a draft without text next to the final version…so cool!) that most people don’t get to see. Needless to say, I think we're all pretty excited about the next 5 weeks! Onward, mush!

--Mary H.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mary Dwyer

Hello and welcome to the AIC Intern Blog!

My name is Mary Dwyer and I’m from Wilmette, Illinois, approximately 16 miles from the Art Institute. I’ve never been so excited to take the train to work everyday! I graduate at the end of this week (darn the quarter system!) from Northwestern University with a B.A. in Art History. I also spent a year studying at the University College London. I love everything about British and French art from the 18th century, and cannot wait to walk through the Art Institute’s galleries every day!

I have also worked at several other museums in Chicago and Evanston, and worked with the art collection at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The Art Institute is still my favorite museum in the world, and feel so lucky to work here!

Maya Ruíz-Stanbary

Hi, my name is Maya and I'm about to start my last year of undergrad at Grinnell College. I'm majoring in Art History and love working for my college gallery there. I just returned to Chicago after spending my spring semester abroad in Madrid.

Most of my museum-ed related experience has been working for my college gallery's outreach program. If you would like to learn more about me you can check out my Linked-In. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work here for 8 weeks and learn the in's and out's of the business mechanics of a large institution like the Art Institute.

About Me

I am a rising Senior at Brown University double concentrating in American Civilization and Visual Art.

I have spent the past four summers interning for the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the National Museum of Mexican Art’s Education Departments. There I have done everything from give tours, teach art classes, design flyers and brochures, to teach children songs about snakes in trees. Anything and everything art education related!

Adrienne Elise Tarver

Welcome to our 2010 AIC Intern blog!

I'm going into my second year of graduate school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Painting and Drawing department. I graduated from Boston University in 2007 with a BFA in Painting, a minor in Art History and a concentration in Printmaking.

After undergrad I spent time working abroad in Italy and South Africa. In Lidgetton, South Africa (about an hour north of Durban) I worked for the print studio and non-profit arts organization, Caversham Centre for Artists and Writers ( Also for two summers I worked in Florence, Italy for an American high school study abroad program touring teenagers around Italy's most impressive museums and ruins.

I'm an artist and you can see my online portfolio at:

Mary C.K. Hayes

Hi everyone, and welcome to our 2010 Museum Ed Intern blog!

My name is Mary Hayes and I am originally from Denver, Colorado. I just graduated this past June (2010) from Santa Clara University where I double majored in Art History and Communication. During my senior year, a few friends and I decided to pick up and move to a fun new city to explore job opportunities and to take some time off before applying to grad school. So, here I am in Chicago!

I have had prior experience with internships in art galleries and non profits both in Denver and in the San Francisco Bay Area, but I could not be more excited to spend 8 weeks with the Art Institute of Chicago in Museum Ed and share my passion for art and education!

If you want to know more about me, you can check out my LinkedIn account or my personal blog and twitter.
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