One day, One Hundred Students, Four Arts Field Trips
On October 11th nearly 100 students embarked on various arts field trips to dive deeper into their artistic disciplines through exploration off-campus. Students traveled to Stockbridge and North Adams, MA, to visit the Chesterwood museum and estate and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASSMoCA )and to New York City to observe a Broadway musical and participate in a circus arts class.
"We took six visual arts classes on this trip: two ceramics classes, two drawing and painting classes, and two photography classes; and each group of students had a different objective," said Arts Department Chair Sarah MacWright. Some students studied texture for their ceramics work back on campus, some studied light and shadow, and others collected source material for a collaborative artwork.
Ms. MacWright and her colleagues thoughtfully chose Chesterwood and MASSMoCA as their field trip destinations as together they exposed students to two different periods in art history. Chesterwood is the estate of Daniel Chester French, an American sculptor who lived at the turn of the 20th century. French is most famous for designing the sculpture of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in DC. Students toured his residence and studio and also walked the grounds, which include some modern and contemporary sculpture.
At MASSMoCA, one of the largest spaces for contemporary art in the world, students interacted with new art mediums like virtual reality in two pieces by the artist Laurie Anderson. They also viewed work by James Turrell who uses light, color, and space to create unique spatial experiences and to spark questions about the nature of perception. Contemporary art is roughly defined as art created between 1980 and today, and during this excursion students were able to realize that many examples of art from this time period include an interdisciplinary expression and a resistance to labels like “painter,” “sculptor,” or “photographer.”
While visual art students were busy at the Chesterwood and MASSMoCA, three performance arts classes—Performance Portfolio, Playwriting, and Millbrook Singers—traveled to Broadway to see the Tony Award-winning musical Come From Away created by writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein. The writers collected hundreds of hours of interviews that have been distilled into a 100-minute show based on the true story of the isolated community of Gander, Newfoundland. This small town played host to the world as 38 planes carrying thousands of people across the globe were diverted to Gander's airstrip on September 11, 2001.
"Seeing this show gave us opportunities to discuss elements of production such as lighting, staging, and acting, while also experiencing a story with tangible connections to our core value of the year: respect," said Ms. Lifter. "Come From Away resonates with tangible ways the people of Gander selflessly stood up to care for others in a time of need, without hesitation or judgment."
Millbrook Singers also had their own performance, taking to New York's 42nd Street subway station to sing two songs that included a solo by Lizzie Chamberlin '19 and impressive harmonies from the rest of the group. "Busy New Yorkers took pause to appreciate the performances—our group broke through the noise of the busy city and made the subway station their stage," said Director of Vocal Music Joe Raciti.
While the Millbrook Singers performed under the city streets, dance students took to the air, learning the basics of circus arts and how to expressively incorporate harnesses, acrobatics, and aerial silks into choreography routines at 5th Wall Studio.
Throughout these diverse experiences students showed the same strong enthusiasm and curiosity. "Our students and faculty look forward to this day each year, and as their teachers, we were so impressed and delighted by the enthusiasm of our students," said Ms. MacWright. Back on campus, students are applying what they learned to their class projects.
Click here to learn more about the arts at Millbrook.