On June 6, 1944, Amon Carter handed over the deed to the land that formed the Big Bend National Park. Mr. Carter and his paper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, spearheaded the drive to raise funds from the people of Texas to purchase the land.
Take the time to visit this incredible place. Be sure to visit the Basin and see Amon Carter Peak.
Through the magic of videoconferencing technology we continue to hold discussions with educators across the country about how to creatively use the Carter’s artworks in their classrooms long after an exhibition has been removed from the galleries. This week the 2007 photography exhibition With New Eyes: Exploration and the American West inspired a professional development broadcast that served teachers from Brock to Cotulla. This program explored photographs of four nineteenth-century U.S. government surveys, and while the missions of these surveys and the resulting images are fascinating, what really intrigues me is that the images were even made in the first place.
Most of the expedition photographers created albumen silver prints (like Carleton Watkins’ Commencement of the Whitney Glacier, Summit of Mt. Shasta above) using the wet plate collodion process. The glass plates had to be prepared, the plate exposed, and the image developed---all while the plate was still wet. Watch a contemporary photographer demonstrate the process, and think about how challenging it would have been for Watkins to create his Mt. Shasta image. In fact, Watkins---who was already a veteran of expeditions through California and acclaimed for his mammoth-plate photographs of Yosemite by the time he joined Clarence King’s U.S. Geological Survey of the Fortieth Parallel---prepared a special enclosed wagon as a mobile darkroom to augment his technical facility during the arduous trek. If the process alone wasn’t difficult enough, imagine for a moment carrying around all of your glass plate negatives and all of your photographic supplies over rough, rocky terrain.
Sometimes you can even see evidence of the process in the finished prints. Look closely at Watkins’ The Shasta Buttes below. The hazy gap in the center of the photograph is the product of an uneven application of collodion.
The next time you take a picture on your digital camera or cell phone, tip your hat to those nineteenth-century photographers who needed more than a split second to compose their awe-inspiring views!
We recently received some imaginative stories from sixth-grade students at the McAnally Intermediate School in Aledo. They were written in part during their virtual visit to the Carter via videoconferencing last fall. Here are the inspirational artworks and excerpts from the students' essays:
“I was having a difficult time focusing. The only thing my mind can ponder over is the thought of the place I’d rather be. I guess every 12 year old boy is like that”¦
This place gives me such peace that my heart is already slowing down from the long run to this place. The bluebonnet’s color is so vivid that they seem purple yet they are blue”¦.
In the near distance I can see my favorite old twisted tree”¦I hear the birds chirping and squeaking, the whisper of the wind in my ear, and the rustle of the leaves.”
“It starts to get dark and the temperatures are dropping. I start walking toward my tee-pee before it got too cold, and as I started walking a small snow flurry picked up. It was as cold as the arctic, so I hurried over the small, crowded, warm fire and looked back toward the blanket covered giants. Then I listened for the whisper of wind going through the branches and the harmonic sound of the timber wolves howling.”
“The twinkle of the sun is like a rapid flash of a flashlight. The”¦soft breeze blew through the trees and it was like the leaves were jumping off of the branches as they flew through the air like little feathers drifting to the ground.”
“Friendship [the horse] was still slurping the water not aware of the storm. The sun was being overtaken by the gigantic clouds. Beyond the pond it was beginning to darken. The wind was even faster now. More wind means more dirt, more dirt means harsher storms. You couldn’t take a breath of air without coughing once or twice.”
Did you know that members of the Carter’s Education staff travel to places like Canada, New York, and Ohio several times each week? Through the magic of videoconferencing we connect students, educators, and other audiences all across the world to the Carter’s collection of American art.
This afternoon teachers across Texas will participate in our educator videoconference Virtual Museum to discover new strategies for integrating technology and the arts into their classrooms. With resources such as teaching guides, bookmarking sites, blogs, and podcasts there are more ways than ever to inspire student learning using technology.
Which technologies are museums using (or should be using) that you most enjoy? Educators, how are you using technology in the classroom to teach students about the arts? Post your comments below and share your ideas with the world...through technology!