This past Monday, combined classes from the Van Cleeve program at NYISED visited the Studio Museum in Harlem to learn about various types of portraits including self, imaginary, and environmental. Students were invited to observe and discuss these different types of portraits with Museum and AEB staff. They were able to practice using their objective and subjective observation skills and reflected back in conversation, with us and their peers, the nature of "the message" of each piece in order to comprehend what an artist might be trying to "say" with their piece.
This trip supports the social skill building aspects of our curriculum by creating a concrete experience of "understanding communication." All of us learn, and continue to be reminded that "what we say" can also be interpreted by how we say it (or don't), our body expression, tone and volume. Even a two-dimensional piece of art "speaks," although it says different things to different people. It’s these different opinions and learning to listen to them and appreciate them - even if we don't agree with them - that are the building blocks for the foundation of our current curriculum in team building and cooperation. Our hope is that all of us, students and teachers, continue to understand ourselves and each other with a "new pair of eyes" each time we see each other by looking at everything around us as if we are seeing it for the first time - just like during our museum visit - with curiosity and wonder of who "they are" and what "they are trying to say."
We are looking forward to "seeing" what portraits these students create in class together next week!