Phillips History on View: A Need for Arts Education

Yale

Duncan Phillips at Yale University

When Duncan Phillips arrived at Yale University in 1904, he was interested in pursuing English and writing. He wrote about art during his time there, but was disappointed at the absence of an art curriculum; Yale had dropped its only art history course due to a lack of student interest. After visits to the Met in New York, Duncan penned the essay “The Need of Art at Yale,” which issued “a reasoned plea for the creation of a course in art history that would prepare students” for enjoyment of the world (George Heard Hamilton, The Eye of Duncan Phillips: A Collection in the Making).

Duncan Phillips’s views on arts education are as relevant as ever. His essay reads, “A wider diffusion of artistic knowledge and instinct would give birth and guidance to dormant individualities of taste, and would not only increase the number of future artists and art critics, but would help to color the lives of the future citizens of the republic, and thus advance the precious cause of the beautiful, in this marvelous breathless modern world.” With this, Duncan put art as a prerequisite to experiencing humanity and served as an early advocate for arts education.

Maya Simkin, Library Intern

Constructing New Space for Art

Rendering of the Phillips@THEARC space

Rendering of the Phillips’s space at Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC), expected in 2018

We’re excited to share a progress report on our space at Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC). Announced in 2015, The Phillips Collection’s long-term partnership with THEARC willl include dynamic, multi-generational programs grounded in the notion that art, when integrated with personal experience, can change lives. Above is a rendering of the space the Phillips will occupy; below is a photo of the construction thus far, courtesy of sanchez palmer architects. We can’t wait to see more!

phillipsatthearc construction

Phase III building construction of THEARC (the Phillips’s space at bottom left corner)

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