At the end of February, teens in the Satellite High School Program gathered around Michelle Erickson’s Texas Tea Party (2005). They’ll study this object for the whole semester, using different methods of looking to form their own interpretations. For their first session, we spent one full hour looking closely at the work and having an open-ended dialogue about what we saw, the artist’s intent, and what it all might mean.
How often do you really consider the implications of naming something? That is exactly what sixteen teens in the spring ArtWorks program here at the Museum did last Thursday. After looking closely at the artists and works of art in Accidental Genius: Art From the Anthony Petullo Collection, we worked together as a group to think deeply about the meanings of a name, how and why art is categorized, and whether or not such categories can ever really be correct.
This week, the Satellite High School students took a field trip to the Pfister Hotel to visit Katie Musolff, a full-time artist working in Milwaukee, and a Satellite graduate! Katie generously let us into her studio and shared her experiences and advice, from being a Satellite high school student, to her time at MIAD (Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design), to her decision to make her art her job. Since many of the Satellite students are artists themselves, this was a great opportunity.
Satellite students have been tagging, talking, and sketching in the past two weeks at the Museum. Traveling through Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and France (virtually, of course), we’ve looked at figural paintings, portraits, and still lifes, and have even done some time-traveling to compare artwork hundreds of years apart.
The most exciting and challenging part of my job this semester is teaching the Satellite Program, a 30-year-old program meant to introduce high school students to Western art history. Not only do I have big shoes to fill (Chief Educator Barbara Brown Lee passed the Satellite torch to me this year), but I also have a couple of big questions to consider: How do I teach a solid, but fun, overview of art history using the Museum’s collection as our textbook? How can I incorporate new technology into the class to enhance our looking experience, and not distract from the artwork?
Some people come to a museum feeling completely at home. But what about those who are a little intimidated, feeling as if they need to have a background in art history to have a great experience? After experiencing a new way of looking at art with one of my colleagues, my head has been swirling with this question.