Museum Wonder-BMA

Visiting my home town of Baltimore, this time with my husband- is like rediscovering your city, and becoming a tourist again. I almost felt giddy. I remember when I used to teach French years ago- I would sometimes bring my students to the Walters Art Gallery or the BMA if there was a special Renoir or Rodin exhibit. My visit yesterday to the BMA blew me away. Not matter what type of person/class/student- there is something for everyone-

Artworks ranging not only in geography (Asia, Africa, Syria, Europe and the Americas (Baltimore included!), but also in medium- from ceramics (both classical Asian and modern American), African Kuba art and Sande masks (shown above) used to teach about the girls’ coming of age rituals, Chinese digital comics and statues to teach about the immortal Guanyin (2nd most important figure in Chinese of which was completely new to me), Antioch Mosaics (below, today modern Antakya in Southern Turkey, known in its prime as “the fair crown of the Orient”), Stone sculpting in the Ancient Americas, modern art ( as in post 1860) including oil paintings and sculptures from well known (and lesser known) figures such as: Picasso, Rodin, Degas, Matisse, Miro, Mondrian, Klee, Henry Moore, Thomas Hart Benton, Renoir, Gauguin, Cezanne, Grace Turnbull, and Georgia O’Keeffe among so many others.

Lion and Humped Ox, 5th century, A column in the middle bearing the Greek word “Φιλια” meaning “friendship” introduces the underlying message of this mosaic. Even though the lion is a predator, he does not attack the ox. In the cosmopolitan city of Antioch, Syria (present day Turkey), where Asians traded with Europeans, and where pagan, Jewish and Christian traditions existed side by side, it was vital for citizens to get along with each other.

One of the things that most impressed me, was that among this massive display of different kinds of art and medium, there was also a temporary exhibition of Craft- and how Craft and Art are intertwined. This exhibition is titled “Free form” and focuses on 20th century American studio craft. Embroidery on linen, mixed media with wool, fibers and wood, come together in so many different expressive ways. Why is this important? Well- so much research is underway for arts therapy, craft therapy and understanding how much creating, using our hands can be stress reducing, therapeutic, and is not just something for kids to find pinned on the wall of the kitchen- but rather something that can be grown into something worth sharing- expressing- art and craft- they can blend together for creative expression, unity, and awareness for change. I loved it how in such a diachronically world museum, the importance of craft on society and civilization is included .

Mariska Karasz, “Triad” (1960). 3 mountain like forms rise against the sky, while cool blue tones, at lower right sketch out a flowing river. Karasz used couching (stitching, heavier strands or skeins of fibers to the background cloth with a finer thread) to juxtapose textures and fill areas that create topographical situations.

Ideas for a museum visit? As the BMA (and many others) has free entrance, it helps to go first , scout out the parts you think the students should most see and make a kind of scavenger hunt. Most internationally significant museums also do school tours, in addition to any audio tours available. Definitely keep them busy, but with enough time for reflection. Perhaps having some kind of museum journal or dialectical journal of sorts- making a connection to what is being covered in the classroom. I like to make sure they also keep the wondering alive- to come up with a question/wonder statement as well after each exhibit, or interesting/important piece of art/craft they come across, and then reflect on that as a group. Perhaps even have them each take a wonder pose with Rodin’s famous thinker as below:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s