A Field Trip to the Horlock House
A couple of weeks ago, a gaggle of students and I made the hike to a local art museum located just a couple of blocks from our school.
Our little town is unique in the fact that we have a museum hosting three artists in residence at our very own Horlock House. I needed to find a field trip for our students that did not cost much money, but that would also be intellectually stimulating for them. The Horlock House fit the bill. Not only was it free to visit, but it was also within walking distance of our school—a perfect field trip destination.
The artists of the house were welcoming. I had already created a plan for the day with Mr. Scotty Gorham, the neon artist in residence, and I had stopped by earlier to drop off some cookies and bananas so the students would have a snack for later. (Teacher tip: Always have snacks!) The kids were excited to meet: Scotty, Andrea Edwards and Steve Knotts. All of these newly-friended artists create their art through different media at the Horlock House. Andrea is a skilled photographer from Washington state. Steve is a realistic painter and native Texan. And Scotty is a neon artist from… well I am not quite sure.
The day began with a presentation by Scotty talking about neon art and the different gases used to create the color effects. The kids were mesmerized by the lights. And through our discussion, Scotty talked about this art form as being both ordinary and extraordinary! He spoke to the students and called this art form very “American,” and explained his process for creation and installation. It was like attending an art lecture, but with the benefit of actually seeing, touching, and understanding the art!
Next, Miss Drea talked to the students about creating art using photosensitive paper and the sun. She even allowed the students to create their own art using leaves that we collected. After a sweet intermission, we brushed away the cookie crumbs from our hands and looked at Steve’s artwork. He had quite a bit to say about the elements of his craft, about the lines and details of his paintings. The children listened and asked about his process as we sat lounging on the floor. The experience was very sophisticated, and yet very casual at the same time. I was worried about going to a museum because sometimes artists can be uptight, or restrictive. But, not these guys. These artists were encouraging, enthusiastic and passionate about their art. Our students absorbed these sentiments that day, and were ready to take up careers in art. As the teacher, I LOVED it!
Most of the students on the field trip had never even heard of the Horlock House, and they have lived in the town their entire life. For some of the students, the visit to the museum was their first exposure to art in a formal setting. It is strange that sometimes we overlook the most unusual gems in our own backyards.
After a picnic in the backyard with the artists, and visits with a kitty cat the kids renamed Burnt Toast, the kids promised they would return to visit the Horlock House over the holidays with their parents. I hope they did.
The exposure that students have to art in our schools is minimal these days. But when you think about it, the art we learned about at the Horlock House involved science, electronics, math, reading, writing and even history. I feel that we are working in an educational system that often overlooks the value of art and creativity. When we start to omit art, we stop creating artists. And I am not just talking about the painters and photographers. Think about the art of engineering. We under serve future generations if we don’t teach students how to create, and if we allow them to believe that science and engineering are not in some way artistic.
So today friends, I encourage you to take your students to a museum. Encourage them to be artistic. Encourage them to create, instead of just to remember facts and figures and parts of speech.
As one of the world’s most famous scientists said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” – Albert Einstein
Thank you to the Horlock House and the artists in residence for reminding this teacher how important art education can be in our schools.
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