Although I tried my best to ‘play it cool’ through the afternoon, I failed to keep my excitement from bubbling over.
After experimenting with internet connections, bringing my laptop (and iPhone, which was used as a hotspot), and making a few ‘test runs’, we welcomed Jessica Baldenhofer as a Skype guest in our senior art class! Jessica works at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; a gallery devoted to collecting, preserving and presenting cherished pieces of art to the world.
The very idea that students who live in rural communities North of Lake Superior could have the chance to meet someone from a world-class gallery and enjoy a rich learning experience is amazing. Today’s class enjoyed Jessica’s friendly character as they slowly warmed to the idea of ‘Skyping’, and began to speak more freely.
Taking turns to sit in chairs in front of our laptop, students had the opportunity to encounter a work of art they hadn’t seen before. Using the inquiry process, students were invited to respond to Martin Kippenberger’s Untitled work from the series Dear Painter, Paint for Me. By describing what they saw and interpreting a variety of possible meanings in Kippenberger’s work, some rich questions helped students develop a new appreciation for the art work. Using her iPad, Jessica walked us by the actual artwork to help us understand the scale of the work, which was hard to imagine from my printed 8 1/2 X 11″ paper copy!
After exploring the artwork, students were invited to ask any questions they could think of that related to the gallery, art, Jessica’s job, (and anything else that might encourage them to leave their shyness behind!). We discussed Jessica’s favourite artwork in the gallery, and began a healthy debate about the significance of The Art of Video Games.
I am truly thankful to Jessica for her help in planning such a successful experience for my class — I know that I’ll hear so many of the students’ thoughts tomorrow, once they’ve had a night to digest the impact of their ‘virtual field trip’. Although technical glitches may have hindered our efforts a bit, our visit went really well, and I hope the students will be able to appreciate art more fully because of today’s activity.