Friday, July 16, 2010

¡Olé! A Spanish Victory on Two Fronts...

Photo: Me, presenting the "Old Guitarist" with Natalie

This past Sunday, it just so happened that the national soccer team of Spain—the birthplace of Penelope Cruz, Ferdinand and Isabella, and a slice of heaven known as “Tortilla Española”—won the world cup, or shall we say, Copa Mundial. As a student who recently returned to the United States after spending nearly six months in this country, I was so ECSTATIC by this win that I just about grabbed the nearest ham leg hanging above me at a Spanish bar and swung it 'round my head in celebration.

Coincidentally, I have also been working to include Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso’s, Old Guitarist into one of my tours. I began researching this piece when I was developing my mock student tour. I impulsively picked it from the museum’s “highlights” list, not having any lesson plan in mind or concept as how to structure a tour. After presenting Old Guitarist and considering the valuable feedback from my colleagues, I realized that, were I to include the piece in one of my tours, I needed to do some careful thinking about how to present it. I understood that I needed to discuss the emotion of the piece with students, without assuming Picasso’s intention.

I knew I didn’t want to give up on Pablo just yet, but including the work in our first week of touring seemed a little ambitious. Instead, Natalie and I led tours on nature, animals, and dance. Truth be told, I was deathly afraid of tackling the blue painting and I was intimidated by the discouraging and gloomy old man it depicted...

Meanwhile, Spain was quickly advancing in the world cup! After starting off with a loss to Switzerland, they won games against Chile and Honduras. By this time, Natalie and I had practically perfected our nature tour. I became so confident leading the nature tour that I used a shorter version of it for my family gallery walk—also very successful!

Spain wins to Portugal—Sergio Ramos and Christiano Ronaldo share a hug—some kid tells us he wants to "marry the museum"—progress on all fronts…

Around the date of the Spain/Germany game, I decided it was time to give the Old Guitarist another shot. I developed a lesson plan (with the help and advice of Robin) that tried to identify how the painting made us feel—not the feelings of Picasso himself. With some open-ended questions and kinesthetic teaching strategies under my belt, I felt ready to work the piece into my gallery walk. After a few hours of research I thought I should reward myself by watching the first half of the game at lunch (well, considering it was the semifinal, I probably would have watched it even if I had spent those research hours just eating from the docent cookie jar). At 1:30 I headed over (alone, due to lack of interest from fellow interns) to Bennigans and sat with the rest of the American soccer fans—and by that I mean the ONE other person watching the game, and he was from Sweden….

Finally, Natalie developed a “Music and Dance” tour theme just to include my presenting of the Old Guitarist. Our first tour group with this theme consisted of 1st and 2nd graders, so for this work I mostly discussed the piece’s color. We discussed how blue makes us feel. Everyone responded especially well to my question: “If this work were painted in all red, how would our feelings change?” Students shared a variety of responses, but all seemed to become aware of the fact that artist’s are conscious of how colors can elicit emotional reactions. We also talked about how the man in the painting might feel. Since gallery 391A was empty (awesome!) we had the opportunity to all mimic the old guitarist’s body language. The group decided that he might feel rather uncomfortable...

That Sunday, the Spanish national team played in the world cup final against the Netherlands. After a nerve-wracking 90 minutes with a stagnant score of nil-nil, the game moved into overtime. I bit all of my nails I had so carefully tried to grow out so as not to look totally childish leading my upcoming adult tour. During the many pauses in play due to fouls, I couldn’t help but think about whether Picasso might have enjoyed a casual, barefoot game of fútbol every so often on the beaches of the French Riviera. And then, in the last six minutes of play, Iniesta SCORED! The Dutch were devastated. I began to imagine the Dutch painter, Gerard Terboch’s, Music Lesson painted in sad blue tones… Finally, the world cup was over and every Spaniard at Café Iberico took over LaSalle Street screaming “¡Olé!” And so, my first student tour of Picasso’s Old Guitarist was over as well. And once again, SPAIN PREVAILED! I hope to continue using the Picasso painting in future tours: student, adult, and family. Interns even considered putting together a tour of Spanish art in honor of the world cup—proving that even the artsy folk here in the United States can appreciate a well-played soccer victory.

Well, we’ve still got a ways to go before we become true soccer fanáticos. Apparently Christiano Ronaldo just made an appearance at a Chicago restaurant and someone thought he was the “Situation” from Jersey Shore

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