On Saturday morning, I dragged my 11 year old and 8 year old to see the Solo Series exhibition at the Abington Art center. I am teaching in the art center’s APEX program. In this program, I give a group of accelerated 4th graders a tour of the exhibition and then together, we create an art project based on the show.
The solo series is composed of 4 galleries featuring the work of 4 different artists: Sarah Becktel, Joseph Leroux, Erin Murray and Paul Rider. After viewing the show (albeit very quickly; my 8 year old was quote, unquote “so hot I am dying!”), I had no idea what sort of lesson to teach. Sarah Becktel’s realistic portraits were beautifully painted and funny in their juxtaposition of subject and objects. In one, a woman stands to the right of 3 perfect Barbie dolls holding 3 perfectly bundled babies, while shoving a burger into her mouth and looking with averted guilty eyes at the BILFS to her left. (Barbies I would Like to F***).
- Paul Rider’s large format black and white photographs of trees and their branches silhouetted against the sky were striking in their linearity. Unfortunately, neither artist inspired a lesson plan. Erin Murray’s perspective drawings of buildings were carefully rendered and made me remember how much I love the haunting portrayals of deserted town centers in eery perspective painted by Italian artist Georgio DeChirico. A lesson in perspective while good to know, ain’t exactly earth-shattering (but what art lesson is?).
Of all the work in the show, Jacob and Chloe liked Joseph Leroux’s geodesic structures the best, so that was the winning lesson plan. Joseph Leroux’s gallery was dominated by geodesic sculptures constructed of mostly round-headed straight pins. (Also included was a sculpture made out of yellow PixOs. A particularly cool sculpture in their and my eyes.)
Here are some examples of the work that the students created.
When we were driving away from the exhibit, my 11 year old, Jacob, commented, “I don’t understand why a school would take a field trip to the Abington Art Center when the Philadelphia Art Museum is so much bigger.” Really Jacob – why? The Abington Art Center is a gem in the Philadelphia suburbs. It is completely do – able in the time period that a typical class schedule allows. Students can go in and practically touch the art work. They can speak as loudly as they want, ask a ton of questions and in the end make a piece of art that is directly related to what they just saw.
This exhibit runs until the end of November. For more information, www.abingtonartcenter.org.