P.S. ARTS is known for our high-quality in- and after-school arts programs, but we are so fortunate to partner with some of LA’s vibrant cultural institutions to extend arts-learning outside of the classroom walls. In this week’s blog, P.S. ARTS Teaching Artists Sandy Yamashiro, Matt MacFarland, and Heather Lowe share stories from their class field trips to the Getty, the Broad, and MOCA!
Getting Giddy at the Getty
by P.S. ARTS Teaching Artist Sandy Yamashiro
It all started as a gleam in the eye of Program Manager Lora Cawelti who suggested we submit an application for a field trip to the Getty Museum. “The Getty?” I thought, “What?…the Holy Grail of field trips?” Well, there was no stopping Lora, who proceeded to fill out the forms online. After clicking the “submit” button, we looked at one another and said, “So…we’ll see….”
Fast forward to the beginning of the school year when we discovered, to our amazement, that we were approved for a field trip with our two fourth grade classes! We were not only approved for the guided tour itself, but also for a bus — hallelujah!
Days prior to our departure, I saw my fourth grade students either in class or on campus, and it was common for one or more to say, “I’m SO looking forward to the Getty!” or “When are we going?” “Thank you for the Getty” one student said as he gave me a hug.
It appeared that students and adults alike thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the amazing Getty Museum. Students identified names of statues of Greek gods that they were studying in class and learned about the world outside of their own. I saw many studying — really studying — works of art, and I heard them asking very thoughtful questions.
Kudos must be given not only to Lora, who spawned the idea and submitted the application, but to all the players who helped make this an outstanding outing. Thank you to fourth grade teachers Ms. Benitez and Ms. Griffin who did an excellent job preparing their students for this excursion. Thanks also to the students who conducted themselves like champs! Much gratitude goes to the Getty docents who were kind, dynamic, knowledgeable, and so kid-friendly; they inspired the students to learn. The parent chaperones including Joanne, Kim, Myra, and Theresa along with Classroom Aides MaBelle and Ms. Kim are all my sheroes; they were so engaged and supportive.
Besides viewing the pieces and exhibits that the docents took us to, we had extra time to rush to view Monet’s iconic “Wheatstacks, Snow Effect, Morning,” Van Gogh’s “Irises,” and the phenomenal Robert Irwin gardens — such a treat!
During the field trip, one of my students asked me, “How many times have you been here, Mrs. Yamashiro?” My reply, “Oh, about 4 or 5 times.” “And which was your favorite visit?” he asked. My response was immediate, “No question. It’s this one. All of you are being so great — plus, I get to see all of your faces as you view and study the art around you!” Yes, to experience the Getty and life in general through the eyes of children — how incredible is that?
As we filed into the bus, one of the students said with a huge smile, “Best field trip EVER!” I must say, I think that many of us agreed with his declaration. For me, a seasoned field-tripper, it certainly does rank way up there as one of the best…. EVER.
Broad-ening Horizons at the Broad Museum
by P.S. ARTS Teaching Artist Matt MacFarland
Recently, I took a group of fourth graders from Camino Nuevo Charter Academy — Kayne Siart Campus to the new Broad Museum in downtown. The field trip was sponsored by 826LA as part of their new Art & Story pilot program, which pairs a selection of artworks in the Broad Collection with a workbook that challenges students to put the work into a narrative context.
826LA is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.
The kids were excited from the moment they lined up to board the bus until the bus ride home.
When we arrived at the very unique, almost alien building the Broad Collection is housed in, they were escorted by one of the Art & Story guides to their first featured artwork “I…I’m Sorry!” by Roy Lichtenstein. Luckily for us, last school year we spent several weeks discussing Pop Art Artists like Lichtenstein and Warhol and making work inspired by theirs. At the time of our field trip, my students were developing a comic book in art class, so the subject matter and aesthetic were very relevant to our in-school curriculum. The students were encouraged to write some dialogue between the woman in the picture and an imaginary person that she would be apologizing to; a few students even acted out their scenes in front of the group!
Next, my students were taken to Jeff Koons’ sculpture “Balloon Dog (Blue).” Predictably, the students’ minds were blown by this giant 3-D blue steel representation of a balloon animal. They were asked to write a story about a day with their balloon dog and draw a picture of what would transpire. The students excitedly discussed their imaginary day with their classmates and a few shared their stories with the group. One student drew a comic strip depicting several moments throughout the day with his balloon dog and another imagined how jealous her friends would be when she paraded him around the school.
Those were the only two pieces we spent time with in the Broad Museum, but that was advantageous as the students were able to spend a significant amount of time with each piece and ponder the process and meaning of each work. Overall, it was an extremely enjoyable and informative experience for the students that allowed them to apply the arts skills we explore during the school day across disciplines and out of the classroom context.
Making Magical Memories at MOCA
by P.S. ARTS Teaching Artist Heather Lowe
How often have you visited a museum or gallery and read the label beside the artwork before looking at the artwork?
Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), an inquiry-based method, allows one to come face to face with a piece of art and experience it personally without prior knowledge. I was lucky to team up with Mrs. Treuenfels, a third grade teacher at McKinley Elementary School, to implement VTS in our P.S. ARTS classroom. Last summer, as part of the the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles’ program Contemporary Art Start (CAS), we received extensive professional development in strategies for teaching and viewing art. Included in the program were two class visits to the museum led by MOCA staff educators, a core classroom curriculum sequence, and family events with unlimited use of family museum passes for our students.
The professional development component of the CAS program was one of the most enriching experiences I have had as an educator. It had a profound impact on my own way of looking at art, which translated to an even more enthusiastic teaching practice this year. We used inquiry-based questions before each lesson such as, “What’s going on in this picture?”, “What do you see that makes you say that?”, and “What more can we add?” This method of inquiry opened up very thoughtful discussion between students, and they learned how to listen and respect one another’s perspectives.
When we arrived, MOCA’s expert staff guided discussions in small groups. It was obvious that the students could delve into topics and question art on their own. Looking at a drawing, one of the students began to describe how each layer of color may symbolize depth and that perhaps this was a plan or map of the artist’s imagination. Regarding Liz Larner’s sculpture “2 as 3 and Some, too,” a student remarked that it may be a magic cube that the artist is trying to unlock.
It was a beautiful day in Los Angeles, and after the museum visit we sat under the trees and ate lunch together while sharing our experiences. I am so grateful that P.S. ARTS encourages its faculty to participate in these types of programs. I know that our students will not forget these experiences — they have become such sensitive and courageous viewers of art!