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A Brave Old World

I thought I might share some interesting information that I learned while reading Dr. Lisa Strong’s essays for the exhibition catalogue for Sentimental Journey: The Art of Alfred Jacob Miller

Did you know that in Great Britain there is a long history of comparing American Indians and Highland Scots? Both groups were idealized as valiant warriors and free spirits, whose way of life was supposedly coming to an end. Sir William Drummond Stewart’s (1795–1871) ancestral estates were in the Highlands, and he appears to have embraced such comparisons. In addition to the paintings and sketches created by Alfred Jacob Miller during their travels in the Rocky Mountains, Stewart adorned his home with Indian artifacts, planted seeds of native plants in his kitchen garden, and attempted to raise bison on his grounds. My particular favorite is this pair of mahogany bison chairs that Stewart commissioned upon his return to Scotland.

It is also significant that of the field sketches that Miller created Stewart preferred images that showed Stewart and the American Indians engaged in activities that were traditional aristocratic pursuits: big game hunting deer stalking, horse racing, and archery competitions. In both content and style these works establish connections between American Indians and Scottish aristocratic culture, suggesting that Stewart saw American Indians as a kind of indigenous aristocracy. Taking this idea one step further, Strong suggests that since highlanders were lauded for similar traits of honor, martial skill, hospitality these images made Stewart appear more authentic Scotsman as well as aristocrat.

More on Miller

Take a moment to check out Kris Boyd’s interview with Lisa Strong, guest curator of the Sentimental Journey: The Art of Alfred Jacob Miller on view at the Carter until January 11, 2009. Lisa appears on the same show as Bob Shieffer. Her interview begins at the 18 minute mark.

The Excitement is Building

While this Blog has been quiet the past few days, the museum has been anything but. Everyone around here is bustling with excitement as we get ready to open our new exhibition, Sentimental Journey: The Art of Alfred Jacob Miller and introduce its related programs.

Preparations are also underway for other events including next Thursday’s Educator Evening in the Cultural District. Trust me, if you are an educator and within driving distance of Fort Worth’s Cultural District, you want to be sure to come to this free event.

Also on Thursday, everyone is invited to Get Art Smart at that evening’s Gallery Talk. This interesting, instructive, and interactive talk will be led by the museum’s stellar team of Gallery Teachers.

Friday morning features the New Parents Tour a program that gives new mommies and daddies an opportunity to take a guided tour of the museum without worrying if baby’s crying upsets other tour participants.

Finally, on Saturday everyone is invited to come out and celebrate our community’s amazing arts and cultural institutions during the Third Annual Day in the District. This event occurs in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum Day.

It's Art in the Family!

This month’s Target Family Fun Day takes place on Sunday, September 14 from 1 to 4 p.m. Bring your family together for this fun, free event where you will find families in the Carter’s collection of artworks, then participate in fun activities and create your own family portraits.

Target Family Fun Days are generously supported by Target.

Test Your Art Q

I am a big fan of the Free Rice Vocabulary Game–I like words and feeling like I am doing some good for the world. So I was really happy to read about the Free Rice Painting Game on Tyler Green’s Blog.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that there are lots of Impressionist and Renaissance painters in stages one through five–they are, after all, some of the best known artworks out there. American artists like Winslow Homer, Thomas Cole, and Mary Cassatt don’t pop up until the higher levels–just another reason to get to know the Carter’s collection. Give it a try and see for yourself!

An In-Depth Look at Nell Dorr

As I look at the photographs of Nell Dorr (1893–1988) that are currently on view in the Carter’s exhibition Nell Dorr: From Everlasting to Everlasting, I cannot help but be reminded of the work of another female American artist--that of Mary Cassatt (1844–1926). Like Cassatt, Dorr is best known for her photographs of families, especially mothers and children, and even though Dorr created her photographs in 1950s America, the poses, clothing, and composition seem more in place with Cassatt’s era. Yet her photographs are very much a product of their time. Join us on Thursday, August 28 at 6 p.m. when the Carter's Assistant Curator of Photographs Jessica May will reveal these often overlooked connections during her Gallery Talk, Nell Dorr and the Idea of the Family in the 1950s.

Last Week for Marsden Hartley and the West

The Carter’s special exhibition, Marsden Hartley and the West: The Search for an American Modernism will close this Sunday, August 24. If you haven’t already seen it, now is the time to do so. If you have seen it, come see it again before it goes away.

Parting Words from Intern Jen Padgett

It has been my pleasure to work as an intern this summer at the Amon Carter, and like Kristina and Heather have both written, the experience has presented me with a wealth of great opportunities. I feel that I not only gained knowledge about the Carter and its delightful collection, but also saw how educational programs can really bring out the best of both of these.

The Education department is valuable because it makes connections – allowing people to not only see the art but become involved with it. During this summer I helped out with the Storytime program, which connects children with art, books, and hands-on creative projects. I loved working with the kids because their reactions to art were so enthusiastic. Every week I enjoyed seeing how many families would return again, inviting their friends to come along with them. (I was surprised that this often included friends from out-of-town! I think the farthest travelers were from New York.)

During my time I also helped with the reorganization of our Teaching Resource Center, an extensive collection of materials for all teachers. It’s great to see that something I helped with will be used to help kids learn about art. Hopefully it will spark their love of art in unique ways.

I am so thankful to the staff of the Education department, who makes this all possible. Everyone here works together, collaborating on projects or just sharing opinions. This collective effort results in programs that educate (and entertain!) and I consider myself lucky to be a part of it, if only for a short time.

In just a week, I will be heading back to the University of Notre Dame to finish my senior year. I’m majoring in Art History and English, and while my post-graduation plans are still a mystery, I know that my experience here will be incredibly valuable to me in the future. I’ve grown attached to the Carter and will keep this time dear in my memory. Thank you to everyone who made this summer so special!

Parting Words from Target Family Fun Day Intern Kristina Hilliard

I had completed my master’s degree in art history and had just begun working towards my doctorate in art education when I began my internship at the Amon Carter Museum in the education department. I decided to intern at the Carter because I had always enjoyed the museum’s collection and had heard so many good things about the educational programming there. My internship began with conducting gallery surveys, writing instructional resources, assisting the department with clerical/research tasks, and planning family days. I soon became the Target Family Fun Day Intern wherein I have planned and implemented monthly Family Fun Days for the community. I have had a blast working with everyone here and I have also learned a great deal from this experience. I have learned how to design, construct, and implement fun, educational programming that engages the entire community with the works of art in the museum.

-Kristina Hilliard

A Few Final Words from Summer Intern Heather White

As an education intern, I used the Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology to develop one of my major projects. While flipping through, I noticed that the word intern is derived from the French interner, which means to confine within a place, be internal. My internship with the Carter has been anything but confining rather my immersion throughout the summer has provided many discoveries about the internal workings of the education department of the museum.

You’d be surprised how much work goes on behind the scenes to provide resources and programming for audiences of all ages. These education folks are passionate and productive! I spent my time here working to develop two self-guides (a brochure that helps you lead yourself on a tour) and a packet based on the summer program, Storytime. The Carter has a reputation for quality educational programming. I feel that working with them to develop these resources has greatly improved the quality of my own writing and has taught me about the needs of the different audiences that the museum serves.

The research that I’ve done to find good “meaty facts” about artworks has been enthralling. The more time I spend with the Carter collection, the more I grow to love American art and artists. For me many of the artworks here are nostalgic; they pull at my heartstrings and take me back to my roots. Thanks Julian Onderdonk, now I may never leave Texas.

As summer ends, it’s back to the University of North Texas in Denton to continue studying as a master’s student of Art Education and Art History. Although I won’t miss the hour commute in the 105 degree Texas heat, I will miss the museum: the collection, the educational opportunities, and the friends that I’ve made.

Thank you to all of the staff of the education department for your teaching and your hospitality and thank you to N. C. Wyeth (a Carter artist I’ve gotten to know through research) for reminding me that, “Now is the season to dream of one’s hopes, to build those castles high in the clear brittle air – and then, to jump for them.”