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by Katie Threet
Reflection of October’s Evenings for Educators by Northern Kentucky University student Katie Threet
Throughout this journey I have been on in becoming an art teacher, two facets continue to pop up when it comes to propelling me to being the most effective teacher possible: spending time with fellow teachers to learn alongside one another and finding how to get the most use out of every resource available. The Cincinnati Art Museum fuses these two aspects together seamlessly once a month at an event called Evenings for Educators. I had never been to one of these events, and now realize how much I have missed out- they are incredible teacher professional development resources. Evenings for Educators is very affordable, especially for students like me. I knew that I absolutely did not want to miss the program topic on October 19, 2016 because it fascinated me so much, Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth. Vincent van Gogh indisputably inspires so many people, including me. I became forever obsessed with van Gogh’s beautiful color palette, thick expressive paint and brushwork during the making of that painting. So, when I heard about this particular Evenings for Educators, I was so excited. Even more exciting, the particular topic they were to discuss coexisted with the newly opened exhibition (Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth) that features Van Gogh’s artworks that deal with undergrowth and 20 other artists that he drew inspiration from. Cincinnati’s own van Gogh, “Undergrowth with Two Figures”, was just one of the 12 pieces of his works featured in the show.
Once I arrived to the museum, I was directed to the Great Hall. There were fun interactive worksheets to fill out and the folder they give each person had lesson plans and other great materials for future reference. Not long after I arrived, the food came out. I wasn’t even expecting food so… score! The director of Evenings for Educators (Samantha Gaier, Assistant Director for School-based Learning) introduced herself, the topic, and how excited she was to share this night with us. There was a great turn out of teachers. After the food, we were lead downstairs to a Fifth Third Lecture Hall. These women who presented (Julie Aronson, curator of American Painting, Sculpture & Drawing and Anne Buening, curatorial assistant), curated the show and I could literally feel how enthusiastic they were. Through their lecture, I became fascinated by the Barbizon school and learning how close van Gogh held the ideals of those artists, he just put his own spin on things. After the lecture, we were to meet back up in the Great Hall to find our docent who was to lead the group through the exhibition. My docent had just been to Amsterdam and was busting at the seams with facts about the show. I really enjoyed her thoughts and comments as she directed us through. I am still feeling the aftershocks of inspiration from seeing all of those masterpieces up close and personal. At the end of our docent tour, we got to hear from the two art teachers who had written the two lessons found in the folders we were given at the beginning of the night. One teacher taught elementary and the other taught high school. I had a great time seeing students’ reactions to studies of undergrowth and mysteries of the woods. The teachers were more than willing to answer any questions I had and as always, I had a lot of them.
I feel so motivated to access every resource possible, especially the art museums that are available in the area. Students have an incredible advantage being so close to a renowned art museum, and it is imperative that teachers understand this advantage and take every chance possible to access it. And I am not just talking about art teachers, all teachers of all subjects can benefit from a trip to the museum. History unfolds itself in art. The Cincinnati Art Museum cares about teachers and it is apparent in the types of programs they hold. They fuse all of the benefits of the art museum along with group discussion to create a wonderful atmosphere. I am truly excited to come back to more Evenings for Educators and cannot wait to share with my future students all of the information I learned at Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth.