Yesterday was a professional development day. We have been going to the National Gallery and I loved the experience. At first I will admit, not a work of art I would observe for a large length of time in front of this work if alone, but this experience created a stream of thinking!
Our group simply looked at memorial for a few minutes and shared observations: all gold, facing the same direction, marching together, one man on horse. Then we looked for signs of leadership: drummer setting pace, pose of man on horse, readiness of horse, unity of group. Our last interaction was to spread out and on the count of 3, take the position of someone in the work and freeze. The docent then went around and tapped each of us on the shoulder to share one line of what we thought the figure was thinking. The answers were thoughtful, touching, humorous, hopeful and empathetic and could inspire a larger act/performance. The warm-up to a greater art response was excellent! I especially loved this experience because after seeing how this teacher inspired taught history, connected empathy through performance art with his 5th grade
The exercise reminded me of steps towards performance art and what other paintings that could be used to inspire performance: Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. Alix Pearlstein’s performance art study of the observer and observed inspired me to think of other behaviors or characteristics to explore with students. Like Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. This painting strikes me as a good one to explore Communication. Which character would we be? How would the location be similar or different? Where is your favorite spot to spend time with friends? What has changed in our time since then? How could my body language intentionally or unintentionally form a viewers opinion?
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