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! 

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