I has the pleasure of helping chaperone a trip to the Art Gallery of Alberta (the AGA) with my daughter’s grade 6 class yesterday. I had a great time!
We walked to the gallery from the school with two other classes. It was a short walk from Victoria school to Churchill Square, the weather was nice and the students were really well behaved.
I have only been inside the AGA a few times. It is a beautiful building with lots of sweeping lines and glass.
We arrived before the gallery opened to the public but there was already one other group in the lobby when we arrived. They quickly sorted us into smaller groups. I was really impressed with the AGA’s programming. The kids really enjoyed themselves and it was very well organized.
We spent our time in the exhibits by Jill Stanton, Lyndal Osborne, and Thomas Bewick. After giving the students a chance to explore Patrick, our guide, led the students in discussions about how perspective shapes our understanding and how we connect to art. Throughout the day the students sketched, took notes, and made great observations. I was impressed by their ability to discuss art technique and their ideas about the art and how it fit into the themes.
The first piece we explored was a huge mural in the lobby Strange Dream by Edmonton artist Jill Stanton. The students loved the graffiti, comic book style and had some great suggestions when Patrick asked why they thought that only one section had been coloured.
It was great to see a local artist featured so prominently.
The doodle-like style and the contrast between greyscale and colour reminded me of one of my favourite downtown murals, Transitions.
Next we explored the wood block prints in Thomas Beswick’s Imagination Field Guide. I loved how the orderly precision of their display and their small size diverted my attention from the at times fantastical content of the prints.
We followed the curvy circular stairs up to the third floor where we there was a retrospective of another Edmonton artist, Lyndal Osborne: Bowerbird, Life as Art, which included prints, sculpture and multi-component installations.
The students also loved exploring the Cabinets of Curiosity, and the cat that sleeps outside. One of them pointed out that it was curated by Lyndal Osborne, they discussed the similarities and differences between the collections with Patrick.
After lunch the students painted small still-life paintings, which were much better than anything I could have done.
They also used wire and clay to create sculptures based on the themes that they saw throughout the day. There wasn’t enough time to finish the sculptures, but I was impressed by how much the students did manage to complete in such a short time.
My favourite pieces were part of Flora and Fauna: 400 Years of Artists inspired by nature. There was a spectrum of photography techniques dating back to the birth of photography with daguerrotype and silver prints. There was a composed wildflower scene I liked more the longer I looked at it. Fortunately the students spent some time sketching in front of it so I had a lot of time to study it.
I also loved a bee photo that was created by leaving a scanner inside a bee hive. The small white spots in the foreground are pollen and wax. What a great way example of pushing the envelope with photography.
I’m looking forward to my next adventure with Victoria school of the Arts.