Mari Shopsis, Director of Education at the Rensselaer County Historical Society
has won our Museums in Conversation contest with this tale of a conversation that took place in front of a painting when she was a docent at the Smart Museum in Chicago. Congratulations Mari, and thanks to all who entered. Keep listening to those conversations--and if you hear a great one, please share it with me.
Top: in front of a Rothko painting, Christing O's Photostream on FlickrI take a group of inner-city 5th graders over to look at a Mark Rothko painting – a reddish square suspended over a reddish rectangle – that I really didn’t understand and didn’t appreciate myself.
[You can see the painting here]
My opening question: What’s going on in this artwork?
RayShaun, a boy who has previously been rather sullen and non-participatory shoots his hand up, much to my surprise: I know! I know!
Me, surprised: Yes, RayShaun?
RayShaun: It’s a tv and a vcr. But he’s mad because he can’t watch tv.
Me: What elements of art do you see in the painting that told you that?
RayShaun: The shapes! And the color. ‘Cause it’s red and mad.
I love this story because it shows how much we bring to our encounters with museum objects – and how people can surprise us.