Springfield Art Museum Docents Reflect on 5th Grade Field Trips

What happens during 5th Grade Tours at the Springfield Art Museum? Docents reflect on their time with the schools:

Any Given Child Springfield
5th graders consider Nick Cave’s Soundsuit.

Fifth graders LOVE Nick Cave’s Soundsuit.

I capitalize on that and expand their exposure by pointing out other art pieces in that gallery with a similar theme: Allison Saar’s Black Bottom Blues and Lost Boys of Sudan and Roger Shimomura’s work. All of these artists address the injustice of discrimination. As we exit, we walk through the Randy Bacon exhibit which always captivates them, so I read the last sentence in his intro statement: “We are all people and each person matters”.

-Stephanie Marinec, docent

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Any Given Child Springfield
Students at Springfield Art Museum

The voices of the 5th graders have taught me so much! During one of my first tours, I learned to slow down. While moving quickly through the museum to the SMMA Gallery, I overheard a lovely girl whisper in awe, “oh that is so beautiful.” She stood transfixed in front of Gary Bower’s Whole Earth Catalog # 2. Sometimes we just need to stop and savor the art!

-Debi Lee, docent

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Students experience tilted sky.

We docents have heard the exhilarated amazement of the 5th graders as they travel under the Tilted Sky, their respectful hushed voices as they absorb The Road I Call Home, their unbridled incredulous words as they first encounter the Sound Suit, their excited chatter about getting to string beads in the Ubuhle exhibit, and the list goes on….. It’s a joy to hear their wonderfully exuberant sounds as they exit the museum while showing and telling us, their teachers and each other about what they’ve seen, heard, made, sketched and collected.

 

-Debi Lee, docent

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5th graders had the opportunity to meet photographer Randy Bacon after seeing The Road I Call Home.

During a recent tour I introduced the images of local people who are homeless in Randy Bacon’s The Road I Call Home. It struck a chord with this group of students. These kids were visibly touched by the information they received. They wanted to see the whole exhibit! The teacher pleaded for it, and her face was pained as she confided that four of the students in that group are homeless.

-Meike Aton, docent

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Students try beading after exploring Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence.

During the Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence exhibition, 5th graders have been able to try out the beading technique used by the artists. When the 5th graders sit down to do handwork with thread, seed beads, and fabric, a transformation happens. They focus in on the craft, paying close attention to what they are doing. Very energized groups find calm as they try out traditional beading and sewing skills.

-Shauna Smith, museum staff

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Teaching artist Ashley Fillmer takes a question in The Road I Call Home.

In the Randy Bacon: The Road I Call Home exhibition, I have witnessed young children have truly respectful, compassionate, and emotionally intelligent discussions about homelessness, a subject they may not often be invited to talk through yet are aware of and affected by.

-Shauna Smith, museum staff

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Museum Assistant Brian Fickett leads a discussion in the galleries.

During 5th grade tour conversations, I heard the students reflect on heavy issues concerning race, identity, discrimination and inclusion, even though they didn’t use those words. They were able to interpret the works accurately, in a way that was in line with the artists’ intentions. The students are invested in their interpretations of the art and able to make their own meanings.

 

--Brian Fickett, museum staff

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Ubuhle Women co-curator Bev Gibson talks with students in the exhibit.

I led a group of fifth graders into the Eldridge Gallery to learn about the Ubuhle South African bead art. I pointed to the printed words above the art, “Remembering Those Lost.” I shared that HIV-AIDS and cancer had caused the deaths of some of the artists and that the works serve as a memorial to them. Later, as that class was walking to the bus, a girl came to me and said, “That reminds me of people in my family dying of cancer.” It resonated with her in a personal way.

---Bev Rohlf, docent

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5th grade students discuss The African Crucifixion.

When I look back over this year’s 5th grade tours, there’s a particular student that I like to think about. In Ubuhle Women, she made the observation that The African Crucifixion was joyful, even though there were sad things in it. Later, in The Road I Call Home, she came back to her idea about joy, saying something like, “Sometimes your joy is hard to find, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.”

 

-Kate Baird, museum staff