A Day of Arts Integration at the Phillips

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Panel 61+

In October, 41 educators from Virginia, Maryland, and DC came together to experience the educator workshop Panel 61+: What Happens Now. Using Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series as a medium for discussion, collaboration, and experimentation, the workshop focused on exploring arts integration.

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Panel 61+

In the morning, educators flowed into the auditorium to hear curator Elsa Smithgall and Professor of Modern Art at the University of Virginia, Elizabeth Hutton Turner, give an art historical framework for The Migration Series. “During a time when record numbers of migrants are uprooting themselves in search of a better life, Lawrence’s timeless tale and its universal themes of struggle and freedom continue to strike a chord not only in our American experience but also in the international experience of migration around the world,” said Smithgall, connecting the series to the present day.

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Panel 61+

During the afternoon, museum educators returned to the workshop where Phillips staff led a series of breakout sessions demonstrating Prism.K12, the Phillips’s unique set of six strategies for integrating the arts into school curricula. These hands-on sessions provided participants with the tools to incorporate this into their classrooms, from artistically creating the 61st panel of The Migration Series to empathizing with subjects in Lawrence’s works in the galleries to engaging in a lesson-building activity using Jacob Lawrence-themed dice.

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Panel 61+

The 2016 Jacob Lawrence Teacher Cohort, a group of local best practice educators trained in arts integration, then took the stage by sharing their own classroom experience with their peers. Before the day was finished, the educators had the chance to browse the galleries and reflect and connect with their colleagues. Participants left the fast-paced, invigorating event equipped with strategies to teach their students about Lawrence’s topical work, the historical context, and its relevance to current times.

Frances Gurzenda, K-12 Education Intern

Your #Panel61 Highlights: Myth of Return

In the final, 60th panel of The Migration Series, Jacob Lawrence leaves us with the words “And the migrants keep coming.” The story of migration is ongoing; what would the 61st panel look like today? Featured below are some thoughtful responses to this question by local artists. Submit your #Panel61 on our recently launched Jacob Lawrence website.

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Panel 61 submission: Maria-Theresa Fernandes

Maria-Theresa Fernandes
(Above) “This large installation is comprised of 28 panels and shows the various communities that came to the UK, the influence of their culture on the local community, and the richness of what they bringm i.e. food, life, etc.”

(Below) “This work relates to migration and shows the various communities waiting in the queue to be accepted into the country; in this instance, Britain. The work is digitally photographed and manipulated with stitch and collage.”

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Panel 61 submission: Maria-Theresa Fernandes

 

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Panel 61 submission: Brian Whelan, “Myth of Return”

Brian Whelan
(Above) “In my painting Myth of Return, the passengers set out with nothing but a good wind in the sails, a single oar, and a light to steer by. All trust is put into the will of God and the new world to come. They carry little more than their songs, poems, a hope, and a prayer.”

(Below) “As a son of immigrants, I am no stranger to a new culture. Spending time in the US with my American wife has given me another address but the drive of my work remains the same: a search for a spiritual and metaphorical home, which finds some consolation and expression in the subjects I choose to paint. These themes are often narratives drawn from life’s comic tragedies, on both secular and religious planes.”

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Panel 61 submission: Brian Whelan

Learning to Unlearn Art: Twachtman’s Glimpse of Summer

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John Henry Twachtman, Summer, late 1890s. Oil on canvas, 30 x 53 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1919

“It’s a pretty painting,” I thought, looking at John Henry Twachtman’s Summer in a first floor gallery at the Phillips.

But no, I couldn’t say just that about a painting. I had to come up with a deeper analysis of it; I had to identify features that pertained to the style of the painter’s period, the symbolism that spoke to the culture of his own time, and the significance it had on the history of art in a bigger picture.

I racked my brain as I struggled to come up with a more specific analysis of the painting, getting closer to the work to capture details.

“The brisk brushstrokes of paint, the interplay of natural light, and the use of bright colors all contribute to the vibrancy to this plein-air painting. The well-blended layers of sky blue and hazy white create soft edges of the sky. As for the symbolism…”

Then I got stuck.

When I’m in a gallery, I often find myself struggling like this to apply academic and stylistic terms to the works. Of course, these are all important components to the general understanding of art history, but was this really what Twachtman was getting at?

“I feel more and more contented with the isolation of country life. To be isolated is a fine thing and we are all then nearer to nature,” Twachtman writes in a letter to fellow artist Julian Weir. Unlike myself, who tried to do an extensive interpretation of the work, Twachtman sought to immerse himself in nature, focusing on the momentary impression of color and light of the landscape.

What’s your first impression of Twachtman’s work? Throw out any words that come to your mind when you see the painting. No need for any fancy, technical terms—”pretty” was all I came up with. After all, it’s not fair that we do a lengthy, grandiloquent interpretation of Twachtman’s work, when what he really wanted to do was share an immediate glimpse of what he saw.

Come visit the Phillips and indulge yourself with Twachtman’s snapshot of the view; the serene colors, natural beauty, or anything about it that catches your eye. Don’t struggle; just marvel.

Summer Park, Marketing & Communications Intern