Sixth graders visited the Seattle Art Museum on a field trip on Friday, March 3, in an example of how experiential education at Charles Wright helps to reinforce what students are learning in the classroom.
The Class of 2023 saw the exhibit “Seeing Nature,” a show from the collection of Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, that’s been traveling the country for the past year-plus. Sixth grade visual arts teacher Dana Squires explains more.
“This is a show of [as SAM explains] ’39 historically significant European and American landscape paintings from the past 400 years. These diverse works offer a unique opportunity for visitors to see the natural world through the eyes of great artists.’ In preparation for the trip, we looked closely at several of the paintings from the show, analyzing what the artist is saying about the landscape and themselves. In particular, we are looking at these two very different interpretations of the Grand Canyon (by Thomas Moran and David Hockney). The students are also using these images as a jumping-off point in a compare-and-contrast writing project in their language arts class.
It is an interesting way for students to see diverse interpretations of similar content. We have found that by picking a few pieces in the show to preview beforehand, the students connect to the art in a different way. They are excited to see ‘their’ picture and are eager to pick out how it is different in the original than in the reproduction. We were standing in front of one of Monet’s lily pond paintings, and several students were peeking into the next room where the Hockney was, whispering, ‘There it is!’ and ‘It’s so big,’ etc., barely holding themselves back form running into that room to experience ‘their’ painting. I love that ownership and engagement.
In the next few weeks we will look at landscapes through the cultural lens of Ukiyo-e, Japanese woodblock prints. Specifically, we will be looking at Hokusai’s series ’36 Views of Mt. Fuji’ and how the prints are a reflection of the times, culture, and worldview. The students will spend some time reflecting on the Pacific Northwest landscape and their own relationship to Mt. Rainier, to be expressed in our ’36 Views of Mt. Rainier’ block prints.”