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Advanced Studio Art Explores Art in Western Massachusetts

11/14/2011
Advanced Studio Art is a rigorous curriculum for junior and senior art students. One of the course requirements is attending three separate museum trips as a class. We travel to a different location for each visit, exploring several venues on each outing....

Advanced Studio Art is a rigorous curriculum for junior and senior art students. One of the course requirements is attending three separate museum trips as a class. We travel to a different location for each visit, exploring several venues on each outing. The group travel allows the class to share the experience of authentic work. We get to discuss the images and our impressions as a class with the work in front of us.

The fall trip was on November 12. We began our travels at 7:00 a.m. on a brisk but dry fall morning. We drove to the Andres Institute for a hike up Big Bear Mountain to see the collection of sculpture that is sited along trails on this abandoned ski mountain in Brookline, NH. The Institute includes a piece by Mr. Moerlein. In the early morning sun the monumental sculptures in steel, stone and glass were especially vivid.

From Brookline we continued all the way west to North Adams, MA, and the red brick buildings that house Mass MoCA. The Museum of Contemporary Art is a cutting-edge establishment that presents some of the world’s largest shows of young and emerging talent. The museum covers over 30 acres of renovated factory buildings. One gallery is nearly a quarter mile long! We saw many exciting pieces, and several totally baffling images. The students had a lot to talk about when viewing Katharina Grosse’s huge painting on soil, the gallery walls and two large panels. The painter’s installation included contrasting white Styrofoam forms that evoked pure shape, perhaps even ice shards. This piece was a fascinating mix of media and ideas.

Just down the street from Mass MoCA is the gem of a gallery at Williams College. They were celebrating their 75th year by mingling their permanent collection with a focus on theme and idea rather than exhibiting work by the epoch of creation. They have an especially fine collection of permanent work, and the juxtaposition of such contrasting images as an Andy Warhol self-portrait and a tiny delicate brush and ink painting of a Japanese monk gave each piece a fresh interpretation.

A trip to North Adams would not be complete without a stop at the Clark Institute. The three floors of 18th and 19th Century art is one of the finest collections in the world of early work by Impressionists. It was breathtaking to enjoy so many paintings that seemed familiar, yet were so new to us. We are all so versed in the later work of Degas, Monet, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, but many of the works in the Clark collection are less well traveled, and certainly less frequently reproduced. It was a rewarding visit that gave us a new perspective of our old favorite artists.

After the galleries closed up for the evening we had a great dinner at the Thai Garden. We chatted about our discoveries and impressions, then drove home, returning to Derryfield some fifteen hours after we met in the early dawn.

Our next trip will be a stroll through the nearby Boston Museums and Galleries on January 21. The spring field trip will be an overnight to New York City on April 21 and 22. All Derryfield students are welcome on these adventures. Organizer Mr. Moerlein is thrilled to see every seat on the vans full. "We all learn so much more when the art viewing experience is shared and the work discussed by a variety of people with different perspectives."

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