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.

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