In late March, this semester’s group of Satellite teens took a field trip to the Chipstone Foundation in Fox Point, WI.
You probably knew that Chipstone has a great decorative arts collection and produces progressive exhibitions in the Lower Level of the Milwaukee Art Museum. What you might not know is that they also have a site in Fox Point, where they host college-level age groups.
Chipstone has visited our teen programs before, but we had never visited Chipstone. They generously offered to have the Satellite teens visit this spring, so on one of the first warm (well, warm-ish) days of the year, we took a scenic bus ride north up Lake Drive to visit Chipstone director Jon Prown and curators Sarah Carter and Claudia Mooney.
Upon our arrival, we got a quick overview of Chipstone and then quickly split into three groups. Each group worked closely with either Jon, Sarah, or Claudia in one of the Chipstone rooms, and then we all came back together for each group to present their conclusions.
Jon talked about (and touched!) an old colonial chair and showed us a contemporary artist’s replica of the object. We discussed issues of use: how do you use your eyes, hands, and logic to figure out what kind of chair it was, who would use it, and how it was made?
In the dining room, the group compared two objects and used the exercise to discover each piece’s purpose.
And finally, in the “green room,” teens talked about the materials artists use to create objects. The green room features pieces made by living artists out of recyclable materials. The teens were able to touch many of these objects, interacting with and getting to know the variety of reused materials, for example, chairs made of bicycle tires or felt.
We finished by hearing about Jon, Sarah, and Claudia’s career paths to Chipstone–a staple topic of the teen programs around here!
The day was illuminating and opened the group’s eyes to objects–some very different–from those they see in the Museum. We were able to step into the shoes of curators to unearth details and meaning from decorative arts objects, guided by Jon, Sarah and Claudia’s critical, discerning eyes.
And happily, Chipstone liked having us there too: as Claudia said, “I enjoyed the students’ visit. They were engaged the whole time, suggesting intelligent and creative interpretations of the Chipstone objects.”
The teens had a great time on their trip and we definitely hope to visit Chipstone again in future programs.
Many thanks to Jon, Sarah, and Claudia for hosting us!