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Kids in the Kohl
By Sara Clarke-Vivier, Department of Education and Ben Tilghman, Department of Art + Art History
Recently the Kohl Gallery at Washington College hosted a different type of student visitor. While the gallery always serves a vital role for students and faculty in the department of Art + Art History, and enriches campus life as a whole, it is not often home to the under-10 crowd. On March 9th that all changed when we explored art with students half the age we’re used to: second- and third-graders from Henry Highland Garnet Elementary School here in Chestertown.
The students from Garnet came to see the exhibition Geometric Aljamía, in which contemporary artists respond to the rich tradition of geometrical forms in art from across the Islamic world. After looking at some complex cut-paper works by Reni Gower (“It makes your eyes go in circles,” said one student) and debating about the subtle perspective studies of Jorge Benitez (“It’s a palace!” “No, it’s a royal palace”), the students explored geometry, pattern, and artistic process by making some cut paper works of their own. WAC students Arianna Hall, Jacob Yallof, Annie Krysztofiak, Nicole Noce, Allison Hinshaw, Aaron Adler, Caroline McMaster, and Holly Shaffer joined in the fun by talking about the art with the students and helping them explore their cut paper projects.
As WAC newcomers, we both were eager to work with the Kohl Gallery as soon as we arrived on campus. Though she teaches widely in the education department, Prof. Clarke-Vivier’s primary research focus is on the powerful teaching and learning that can happen at the intersection of school and community spaces, like museums. This year when she’s off campus, you’re most likely to find her in Crooked Tree, Belize, facilitating a collaborative museum design project between archeologists and area schools. Prof. Tilghman developed a love for museum education as a high-school and college student working in children’s museums and carried that enthusiasm through four years working in the curatorial department of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. Together, and with the support of our communities, we hope to develop a program of regular field trips to the gallery from area schools. We have a shared vision for bringing as many people into contact with art as possible, and, just as importantly, reminding area residents that the Washington College campus is here for everyone’s enrichment and enjoyment.