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Michael Mize Art Blog

Get Out There and Look!

by mize , January 16, 2008—12:00 AM

Topics: inspiration

It__™s about that time of the semester when I give my high school art students their one real homework assignment. They are required to visit a local gallery or museum and write a paper about their encounter as well as reflect on five pieces of art. They usually groan and complain about this at first and then many of them will admit, in the safe confines of their final paragraph, that they actually enjoyed the assignment.

I try to impress upon them the value of getting in front of ___real___ artwork. I explain how it is an entirely different experience all together than looking at the digital reproductions we see at the start of class each day. I often use the analogy that it is equivalent to listening to their favorite band on their I-pods, and seeing them perform live. There is such valuable insight to be gained by standing nose to canvas with the actual work itself.

I was reminded of this fact myself recently when our district art faculty had the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the Spencer Museum of Art. Although seeing first hand how exhibits were organized and packaged for shipping was fascinating, it was the chance to stand in front of some of the greats again that really charged my battery. I saw Benton, Thiebaud, Motherwell, Rosenquist. I stood in front of canvases by Monet, etchings by Durer, and glass from Chihuly. It was great fun to once again feel that surge of adrenalin as you stand in front of truly inspiring work.

If you__™re anything like me, it can be a real challenge to find or make time to visit your local galleries and museums. We get so wrapped up in our own little reality and working on our art, it's easy to begin to stagnate or have inspiration go cold. The internet provides a wealth of sites (Artid!) that are wonderful and provide a great source for artists to network, share ideas, and view each other__™s work. However, they are no substitution for the real thing. So if you haven__™t in awhile, do yourself a favor and get out there and look!




  Caroline Henry ( homepage )

01/17/2008 * 20:17:27

I have been on the other side of your art assignment. Usually our local art group, Lodi Art Center, runs a gallery, but currently we're closed and looking for an affordable spot. However, I have enjoyed seeing a good many high school and community college students come in on Saturdays when I was staffing preparing to report on a gallery. I think teachers making this assignment do a real service to their students in giving them another view of what is available in their own community.

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