Saturday, July 16, 2016

2016 Summer Institute for Art Educators - Day 4

For the final day of the 2016 Summer Institute for Art Educators (organized by the AGO and the CSEA), we got the chance to speak with the new Director and CEO of the AGO: Stephan Jost. He was funny and approachable and spoke of some fascinating new possibilities for the gallery. I love the overall philosophy he uses to approach such a complex and demanding job, he said: "if it's not about great art, education or access, I'm not interested."

We then heard from Jane Lott, the Coordinator of Family Programs at the AGO and explored the Hands On Centre, a play-based learning room for little ones. In discussing where and how she gets her material for such diverse programming, she explained that sometimes she has to get creative - an example, that I like and will be using, is to use LED lights in a simple plastic container to make a lightbox for under $20:

Our group of educators then heard from Melissa Smith, the lively Program Coordinator of the Gallery Guides, about the exhibit that opened on Canada Day: The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris and then went up to explore the show.

This painting, In The Ward, 1920, is one of my favourites from the show. I was surprised by the amount of painting Lawren Harris did of the Ward in Toronto. This run down area used to be where city hall and the Eaton Centre stand today, and was a place for immigrants- mostly Eastern European, Chinese, Black and Irish. His paintings provide a primary source for a missing part of our history. He has a beautiful way of using bright colour and thick paint application to create these images, and for me it was a fascinating departure from the landscapes that I'm used to. Definitely a great show that I would like to visit again!

In the afternoon we went to the Gardiner Museum and had a brief tour of the ceramics followed by a thoroughly enjoyable clay studio session. After seeing and discussing art all week it felt great to sit down and make something!

Ewer with tulips and scholar, Ming Dynasty, Chongzhen period, c.1635-40

The Summer Institute was a fun and rewarding week of art and education in Toronto. I will miss spending time with such like-minded and friendly people, and I look forward to exploring more of the art and museums in our city.

For more, check out the twitter updates about the week's adventures here, #AGOCSEA and have a look at the A.G.O. Schools and Teachers Facebook page here.

- Patrick

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