Art History Field Trips

There is no substitute for seeing art and architecture in person.

Art historian Dr. Sam Howell does his best to bring art to life in his classroom using video and still images, but that isn’t the same experience as actually standing in the presence of historically significant art and architecture. He is often planning trips for his students to major museums and galleries — not just in the Carolinas and Georgia, but also in cities like Baltimore, Washington, New York and Boston.

Thanks in large measure to Aaron Gotter, there is photographic evidence that you can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t take the teacher out of the teacher!

New York City Field Trip, November 2015

During the Fall 2015 semester, Dr. Howard Frye acquired a REAL grant in order to take Francis Marion University art education students on a field trip to New York City to see art museums and attend an educational lecture at the Museum of Modern Art on Pablo Picasso.

Currently there is an exhibit at MOMA of Picasso’s sculptures, which has been called a “once in a generation” event. The last exhibit of Picasso’s sculptures of a similar magnitude was about 50 years ago. Students were assigned to research Picasso sculptures prior to the field trip and to create a sculpture or maquette inspired by Picasso’s work. They documented the process of researching, reflecting, and developing ideas for the sculpture in their sketchbooks, and will present their work during the university’s research day in March. This is the same process most artists use to develop ideas and it is the model used by the International Baccalaureate program.

One of the students selected for the field trip, Kate Strickland, a sophomore art education major, went through the I.B. art program in high school. She’s from Irmo and is a teaching fellow. Two other students, Chloe Shinn and Madison Martin, both freshman art education majors, were selected for the field trip.

Prior to the field trip, the students helped promote, facilitate, and develop questionnaires for back-to-back educational workshops in framing art by Charles Ailstock of Artizom from Charleston, and photographing art by professional photographer, Milton Morris from Olanta. The workshops were held at the Art Trail Gallery on October 23rd, 2015. The workshops were funded by the REAL grant as well.

The purpose of the project was two-fold. First, to expose the students to art education workshops by having them assist in developing one at a community-based venue and also providing them the opportunity to attend at least one workshop put on by a major art museum. The workshop they attended at MOMA was a discussion-based talk by an educator at the museum on Picasso’s famous painting, La Demoiselle d’Avignon. The second purpose was to have them engage in artistic research that is reflective of the practices of professional artists.

Professor Frye and the students were in New York from Friday, November 20th until Monday, November the 23rd. They visited The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art. They also visited an art materials store, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center Memorial Fountain, Central Park, and other sites.

“Day of the Dead” – Student Field Trip to Ecuador

During the Fall 2011 semester, Dr. Howard Frye took Francis Marion University students on a field trip to Ecuador to study their version of the Day of the Dead, which is known as El Dia de los Difuntos (the Day of the Departed).

The students–Tori LoPresto, an art education major, and Tyler Pate, a visual arts major with specialization in visual communications — and Dr. Frye visited Ecuador’s highland cities of Otavalo, Calderon, Ibarra, San Antonio de Ibarra, and Cotacachi to observe the event.

El Dia de los Difuntos falls on November 2 and it is a major holiday for the entire country, but it is an especially important occasion for the indigenous people of the northern highlands. There the day is celebrated following centuries old customs, whose origins predate the Incas. The entire town seems to visit the cemetery on or before the holiday to decorate the graves and to share food and drink with the dead.

While in Ecuador, Dr. Frye and his students also visited the capital city of Quito to view the architectural wonders of the historic district, one of the first two places designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO. They also took advantage of the opportunity to visit the nearby cloud forests, one of the most ecologically diverse places on the planet.

Since their return, the students have been working on an educational resource kit about the holiday that will be made available to the local community. LoPresto has written a standards-based lesson unit and Pate will create the product design and graphic layout for the kit.

The trip was sponsored by a Francis Marion University Quality Enhancement Grant to support non-traditional learning projects.

The Big Draw International Arts Festival

This project, involving two art education majors and one education major seeking a certification to teach art, was funded by a Francis Marion University Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) grant.

The students, Amber Hekman, Angela Jackson, and Holly Todd researched the Big Draw, a highly successful national campaign for drawing in England, which has since spread internationally. In England, Big Draw events occur over hundreds of sites, mostly during the months of October and November each year.

After reading and reporting on a number of Big Draw case studies, the students accompanied the project’s principle investigator, Dr. Howard Frye, Francis Marion University Assistant Professor of Art Education. They visited London for 5 days in late October 2010 to observe and participate in about a dozen Big Draw events in one of the campaign’s featured events: “Making Your Mark on the Future: From London Bridge to Tower Bridge.”

Among the events the group took part in were a swap station, where participants traded drawings (the finished drawings were placed on a clothes line); a collaborative effort to make an animated film, which was being organized by two recent graduates of London’s Royal Academy of Art; an impromptu lesson in archeological drawing involving relics taken from the River Thames; and the annual “The Battle of the Cartoonists”, a competition featuring some of the country’s top cartoonists.

The students used what they learned as a basis for developing drawing activities for the University’s Arts International Festival children’s art area in Spring 2011.

Wet Plate Collodion Workshop
Asheville NC, 2012

During Fall term 2012, Professor Julie Mixon took a group of visual arts students on a field trip to Asheville, NC, to learn the alternative technique of wet-plate collodion photography using large format cameras.