Recent Expeditions to the Asia Society and the Met!

As educators, we are constantly learning from each other and looking to find new techniques and strategies we can use to enhance our own practice. Here in the Education Department, we have recently taken several field trips to learn more about art that relates to our own collection as well as how to teach with it in a variety of exciting ways.

It was a great pleasure to finally visit the Asia Society during one of our most recent trips in May. Here, we had a guided tour of the Golden Visions of Densatil exhibition with Head of Museum Education Programs, Nancy Blume.

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Part of what was so fascinating about the show was seeing similar sculptures that we have in our own galleries in a different space and context. We recognized the same deities and Boddhisattvas, but it was invigorating to see them in slightly different sizes and poses. One piece that really caught my eye was a painting of the Buddha’s footsteps, which I learned is one way to symbolize him; through very meaningful symbols such as these.

After the tour, we all were so inspired that we decided a group field trip to Nepal and the Himalayas was definitely in order! The next field trip we did take however wasn’t so far away; we stayed on the upper east side, this time journeying to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for an interactive tour with former Rubin Museum educator, David Bowles!photo 3 (4)   photo 2 (4)  photo

With David, we toured the Asian wing and not only had dynamic conversations but also engaged in art making and hands on activities, in only a few minutes time. For the first activity, we were instructed to sit back to back and decide who would be the sketcher and who the describer. Looking at the art object before me, I suddenly became very conscious of the language I chose to describe my piece with and then while sketching, I became aware how important it was to listen closely to all the details, even the small ones. Here is how Larissa’s drawing turned out based on my description of the stupa, seen next to it:

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The last activity we engaged in was quite memorable. After looking at a very unique Buddha mosaic composed of pop-culture icons and symbols as seen here:

dissected buddha

“Dissected Buddha,” 2011, Gonkar Gyatso, collage, stickers, pencil, colored pencil and acrylic on paper, more here: Dissected Buddha

we were instructed to have a conversation with a partner about it without talking or using any words! All we could do was communicate through sketching and drawing on the paper we shared. It was fascinating to learn how when using visual imagery, we may think we are having the same conversation, when in reality, we can be having two very different ones. Listening, looking at, and engaging with these works together helped us to notice how we each respond uniquely and differently to art, and how through gallery activities, we can create a very interactive and memorable experience even in a short period of time.

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Check back soon for an upcoming post about our most recent trip to the National Museum of the American Indian, NMAI, in lower Manhattan!

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