The Joy of Teaching #3: Art History goes to Providence

Kaitlin King joined Hyde this year as a coach, dorm parent, and Art teacher. As you will see from her piece, Kaity is already a veteran at taking on a reluctant learner, turning them around and developing curiosity.

Students Amanda Ashe ’10 and Zach Rosenbaum ’10 at the RISD Museum
Students Amanda Ashe ’10 and Zach Rosenbaum ’10 at the RISD Museum

“Miss Kinnnnnnnng (whine)!!! We had so much Art History reading last night…” This was the daily C-period greeting. I always met the class’ high-pitched complaint with a witty response, “I know you did.” Art History is one of my passions and I clearly remember what it was like when I was starting out. The textbook we still use looks like it would be better utilized as a doorstop and/or paper weight and the inside is filled with dates, images, and small print. It seemed to me as if the class was putting in a lot of work but not getting hooked on the Art. Something had to be done.

As we began our exploration of classical art, we got our break! We were invited (through some clutch connections) to visit Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Brown Professor of Classics, Adele Scafuro, was gracious enough to invite her distinguished colleague, Alan Beogehold, to give us a tour of the classical art at RISD’s museum. It was a terrific collection and one of my favorite parts was seeing the reactions of the students. This time, the word choice was a little different: “Miss King! Look at this vase! It is just like the one we read about!”

After pouring over the Greek statues, Roman paintings, and even Egyptian mummies, we took a sneak peak at more modern works of art such as Impressionism and light installation pieces. Our tour guides were instrumental in leading us through the works in the museum as well as taking us to lunch! We dined at Brown’s Faculty Club and reviewed the day and the art work. I am pleased to say that my scholarly students were able to see and appreciate art in a new perspective.