The new docents of the 2015-16 class have already taken active roles in assisting with Outreach, Studio, Artworks, and Gallery tours, and now they are in the midst of their year-end presentations to the museum staff and active docents. Those presentations have been innovative, enlightening, and entertaining and we are looking forward to incorporating this diverse and talented group into the active docent corps.
My conversations with the new docents are summarized below:
August 17 marked the first day of Docent Training with 37 in attendance, which included seven new docents and two visitors. Top picture: Docents in the studio while Donna Pickens, Asst. Curator of Education, discusses the Montgomery Public Schools Outreach Program> Bottom picture: Curator, Jennifer Jankauskas gave docents an in depth look at the Maltby Sykes exhibition, A Witness to His Time.
The MMFA staff are always pleased to see “Camp Sunshine Wednesday” roll around on our calendars because it means the presence in our galleries and studios of some lovely, and very special, people. Camp Sunshine is a long-standing tradition now in our community, serving many elementary school-age girls who would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience summer camp activities. (At left: Wanda Horsley provides an introduction to paintings in the gallery for Camp Sunshine campers.)
Camp Sunshine visited the Museum this year on Wednesday, June 6. This marks the first year for Camp Sunshine at the Museum under the direct leadership of the Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama here in Montgomery. The anticipation of the girls who participate in the program is always high when they reach the Museum, and this year was no different. Welcomed and led by our talented Museum docents Gloria Simons, Wanda Horsley, Paula Murphy, Grace Cook, Pam Moulton, and Penny Thompson, the campers toured the galleries for a look at the permanent collection, followed by time in both the ArtWorks galleries and the studio. They each created a “tissue vase” collage while they were here to take away from their visit.
We offer our congratulations to the Girl Scouts in Montgomery, to the Camp Sunshine staff, and to our own great volunteer docents who do such a wonderful job of introducing Camp Sunshine to one of Montgomery’s greatest resources in the arts—their hometown Museum.
Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator of Art
Twenty MMFA Docents and staff visited The Birmingham Museum of Art on Friday, March 20, 2015 to view the exhibition, Small Treasures: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Their Contemporaries.
Docents who love the puppet show - the Art of Baking Puppet Show audio file is attached for your listening pleasure!
The docents enjoyed an inspirational session comparing these two prints of the same subject from the Weil Collection.
The current exhibition, Romantic Spirits: 19th Century Paintings of the South from the Johnson Collection, addresses four major themes related to romanticism and the south: Heroic Individual, Personal Chivalric Code of Honor, Sublime in Nature, and Inevitability of Change. The themes are addressed in the exhibition catalog written by Estill Curtis Pennington.
EARLY DEFINITION OF ROMANTICISM
Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (Source)
OF THE SUBLIME
WHATEVER is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling.
Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime | Critique of Judgment (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
ANALYTIC OF BEAUTY (KANT)
While the sublime is formless, Kant defines beauty as having a particular form. The "judgment of beauty" is subjective, but differs from other types of judgments. In the case of beauty, we don't rely on reason or agreement to determine what is beautiful. Rather, we presuppose that our subjective judgments of beauty are universal or
BASIC DEFINITION OF ROMANTICISM
Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Romanticism, first defined as an aesthetic in literary criticism around 1800, gained momentum as an artistic movement in France and Britain in the early decades of the nineteenth century and flourished until mid-century. With its emphasis on the imagination and emotion, Romanticism emerged as a response to the disillusionment with the Enlightenment values of reason and order in the aftermath of the French Revolution of 1789.
Romanticism (Birmingham Museum of Art)
A 19th-century movement in the arts that prized human feelings, imagination, and expression.
BRIDGING THE GAP
Immanuel Kant provides a definition of aesthetic judgment that can be used as a guide for building discussions in the gallery.
Romanticism, when related to the major themes of the exhibition, can be defined as representations in art that elude our conceptual foundations. This closely resembles what Kant referred to as "aesthetic judgment." In other words, a painting may reveal certain objective details, but our concepts, our subjective judgments, for grasping their meaning elude our comprehension. Instead, the naturalism and realistic depictions of nature and scenes from everyday life engender ideas that are amorphous - encompassing larger issues (e.g. the Civil War, Manifest Destiny, Reconstruction, and Transcendentalism).
From romantic vistas to dramatic moments -whether of the domestic sphere or the Civil War - the unifying themes are mood and feeling, with an emphasis placed on the individual and the subjective.
After months of planning, the Museum officially launched the new website on Thursday, January 30th. The website is responsive, which enables the site to adapt to various platforms like mobile phones and tablets. We would love to get your feedback!
The following image provides a link to a lecture by Ida Kohlmeyer. In the video, Kohlmeyer mentions her earlier influences (Rothko and Hoffman). Restrictions are placed on the video in terms of embedding, so I had to link directly to the video on Vimeo (I did download it for off-line use) to be played later for docents.