Posted by: history591seventeen | June 8, 2009

The Art Institute of Chicago

Another GREAT Chair!

Another GREAT Chair!

Going to the Art Institute today was a special treat.  I heard many stories that I had not heard before; however, the story I enjoyed the most was the one about the painting called “American Gothic”. 

American Gothic

American Gothic

It was fascinating to know the history behind the painting.  I did not know the artist had his own sister model as the farm wife in the painting, and who would have guessed that the pitchfork wielding farmer was the artist’s own dentist.  That is such rich information.

At the same time, because of going to the Art Institute, I started thinking about what we do not have back home, and how hard it is for our students to enjoy the benefits of attending places like the Art Institute.  I think this exposure is very important to our kids.  I overheard this conversation that a father and son (about eight years old) were having about some of the different techniques that were being used in the different pieces.  The boy was clearly excited about the art and/or the conversation he was having with his dad. 

sun june 7 064This reminded me about how important it is to get students out of the classroom to explore the world around them, even if that world is not as rich as what we have experienced here in Chicago.   I know how hard fieldtrips are to plan, pay for and justify. Yet there is no way of knowing whose spark might be lit as a result, and we do have a few places in town where many times, we think our students have visited, where actually few of our students are exposed to museums.

Because of the information given to me today about the stories behind some of the art pieces, I think I may have a way to help justify visiting an art museum as a history class.  I know, art is history, but it is that curriculum thing we all use these days that slows things down. 

I could call my local museum and get some information on what artists have pieces on display.  From there, depending on the number of artists, I could have my students research these various artists, either as a class or individually.  Then we could visit the museum, and I would ask my students to look at the pieces of their researched artists, and decide if some of the information from their research would explain the influences this artist is demonstrating in their work.  We would also be able to place the artists in to timelines and back in the classroom, after the visit, we could decide if some things occurring within the nation or the world, etc., are also influencing the art and the artist.




Oh and by the way, I think I am moving away from my chair fascination to the settee.  All of us deserve a comfy place to lie down and write a blog, read a book, or take a nap:). 




This one reminds me of the “Green Caterpillar”. 




  1. Hi Dana,
    I agreee with you of the importance of getting the students to an art museum. I also believe we need to have the students exposed to art techniques and skills so that they may become a future great artisian. Before CSAP our schools put out a more well rounded student because they had more experiences in and out of the classroom.


  2. Dana,

    I toatlly agree with Amy. You are so right about our kids needing exposure. You never know what seeing the actual pieces will trigger in our kids. I take my History of the Southwest students on a 5 day trip through Arizona and New Mexico and I make one of the stops the Georgia O’Keffee Museum in Santa Fe because I know for most of them it may be the only exposure they will get. Hopefully it will spark a few thougts.
    We moved my son to another school because this old school cut art and other programs. It is so not about CSAP in the real world, too bad education does not see that at times.
    If I had a settee with a built in fridge I may never move.
    Nice post.

  3. Hey Dana,
    I agree with both your blog and Amy’s comment. The first problem is getting funding for any of the field trips, then permission etc etc. When you finally jump through those hoops, you then have to justify why you are going and does it fit into the curriclumn map, CSAP, and state standards. What happened to creating a well rounded student?

  4. This spring I was able to take my students on a fieldtrip to downtown Pueblo and the way we paid for it was by charging the students. We were able to tie in the Railroad Museum with transportation. We went to the Pike Plaza because we were studying Zeb Pike; the students were studying water organisms, so they were able to do water experiments at the lab on the plaza and lastly we went to the Arts Center to enrich their knowledge. It was a fabulous trip that the students seemed to really enjoy! Dana

  5. Dana,

    I sent a reply that is hiding in your spam. A glitch on this end. Just approve it and you should get it.


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