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A looking and making collaboration.

A looking and making collaboration

TOGETHER, THE TULSA PUBLIC Schools and Philbrook Art Center provide a unique learning experience for Tulsa's academically gifted and artistically talented students. "Museum Studies in the Studio Arts" involves students, educators, professional artists and museum staff in an "on-site" program with the following guidelines: 1. Program participants are fifth and sixth grade students identified as academically gifted or recommended by their art teachers as especially talented in the studio arts. 2. The students are accompanied by their public school teachers who participate in all class activities with the students. (An important learning experience for the teachers.) 3. Sessions are limited to forty-four students. The project is comprised of four sessions of twenty half-days (9:30-11:30 a.m.). 4. Students select one of four studio art areas in which gallery and studio resources are integrated. (Parents must give their approval of selection.) Formal tours, lectures, discussions, drawing in the galleries and use of studio facilities are scheduled. 5. All classes study four major collections in the museum. The study of the collections and the designing and construction of studio arts projects is taught by professional artists and museum staff knowledgeable about the museum's collections.

The studios

The studio areas include ceramics, enameling and copper etching, photography and printmaking. Each artist provides instruction in the designated areas within the overall guidelines, but also brings his or her special talents to the program. The ceramic and printmaking classes provide excellent examples of how the studio work and gallery lectures are integrated.

The ceramics instructor begins each session with an introduction to the materials and work area. This introduction includes a discussion of tools and techniques, a look at pots in various stages of completion, a survey of the clay room and a discussion of the various kinds of clay. The students are then assigned the task of making their own tools for use during the class. A simple task such as modeling a wooden handle and attaching a paper clip to it to fashion a tool for design emphasizes the relationship between tool and pot and the value of excellent craftsmanship. The students learn respect for the tools while obtaining their first lesson in craftsmanship.

A second introductory project in the ceramics class is the design and sculpture of "kiln gods"--figures placed on top of the kiln to protect the pots. This project allows the artist-instructor to explain the importance of the firing process and to teach the students additional ceramic art vocabulary, the various temperatures and the effect of temperatures on clay and glazes.

The printmaking session begins with a similar schedule. The print process is defined so that students understand that printmaking implies a means or method of transferring an impression from one surface to another. The introduction continues with a firsthand experience of making a relief print. Students select a leaf and with paper, ink, the leaf and their hands produce their own print.

After the initial meeting and introductory sessions, the gallery talks are scheduled. The Oriental gallery, one of four galleries used by both ceramic and printmaking classes, includes porcelains, tradeware pottery, ivory and jade decorative arts as well as paintings and textiles. The lecturer in the Oriental Gallery introduces students to cultural values expressed by artists in the Orient. They compare the design elements, the materials used, the role of art and the quality of workmanship within the collection. Students then relate this information to the Oriental values of love of nature, sense of order, patience, pride in work and usefulness in society. The gallery lectures, in the words of the artist-instructors, "provide the students with an opportunity to look at things longer (to) supplement intellectually the visual experience...provide historical information (and) add the human quality" to the study of art. Students later return to the galleries to sketch designs for their studio work.

Ceramic classes select a pot and attempt to reproduce its proportions and contours. The students first make a paper template, then build a pot from clay coils using the template as a guide. The surface decorations are designs inspired by and drawn from the collection. These designs are incised on the pots with tools made earlier in the class.

Printmaking students select designs from a number of collections, but a favorite has been Oriental animals or floral designs. Each student selects a design that can be drawn as a flat pattern necessary for a successful print design.

Program emphasis

Overall, the program emphasizes more than completion of a project. The artist-instructors are alert to the necessity of providing students with a deeper meaning of the art form. For instance, both ceramic and print artists have emphasized their goal of instilling a professional attitude towards the arts and the creation of art. Educators also recognize that they are accomplishing more than serving the needs of the gifted and meeting state mandates. As one administrator stated, "what is learned in this program may be applied to working with all students."

Is the program successful? The initial response from parents, students, educators and museum staff has been enthusiastic and encouraging. Evaluation team members have questioned the length of the program (could the same results be obtained in less time?) and the value of the academic approach to art, but concerns that surfaced early in the program, primarily by parents and educators, that students in the program may fall behind in the regular classroom assignments have been almost entirely alleviated. As one principal stated, "the students are in the program because of special abilities and we should concentrate on teaching concepts (in other classes) and not be too concerned with the amount of work (turned in)."

Parents are invited to a special reception at the end of each session to view the students' work. Both at the event and afterwards, they expressed pleasure with their children's work and with the interest of the museum faculty in each student's participation. But perhaps the best evaluation of all is from a student. When asked what he had learned from the program, he said immediately, "I didn't think a museum was supposed to be fun!"

PHOTO : Super-sized paper dolls were good community builders.

PHOTO : The printmaking studio class took students from simple print techniques to sophisticated processes--all of which were informed by the museum's collections.

PHOTO : Photography students created "fixerpictures" as they learned basic photographic techniques. In this technique, fixer is painted on photo paper, developed and fixed. The image is then colored with felt-tipped markers.

PHOTO : Utility and aesthetics were combined by young artists in the ceramics studio.
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Title Annotation:Museum Studies in the Studio Arts program, Tulsa
Author:Hoar, Joan Williams
Publication:School Arts
Date:Apr 1, 1989
Previous Article:The Sculpture Project.
Next Article:What the class of '74 saw!

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