Millbrook’s proximity to world-class galleries, studios, theaters, and some uniquely repurposed presentation spaces makes programming bi-annual arts field trips an exciting undertaking for staff and students. “There’s so much great art around that it’s hard to decide where to go…we are in an enviable position,” says Arts Department Chair Sarah MacWright. As many New York City artists have sought larger and more unique spaces to show, the Berkshires and the Hudson Valley have become hotbeds for viewing contemporary work.
First-semester arts field trips took place the last week in October, and students are continuing to process their experiences and synthesize into their own work characteristics or components from some of the paintings, sculptures, installations, theatre, and dance they recently viewed.
A group of 50 visual arts students traveled to The School in nearby Kinderhook, New York. Art dealer Jack Shainman has repurposed a classic brick public school building into a massive gallery space for the showing of large works. Millbrook’s group of ceramicists, photographers, and painters took in the large-scale paintings of Botswanan artist Meleko Mokgosi, a Williams College graduate. The next stop was in North Adams, Massachusetts, at Mass MOCA, a world-famous contemporary art museum housed in a complex of former mill buildings. Installations by James Turrell were of particular interest to photography students. His work addresses the sculptural attributes of light through projections and in architectural contextualization. The vibrant work of Texas-based visual artist Trenton Doyle Hancock melds performance art with painting and sculpture. This true multimedia artist may inspire Millbrook students to use the multitude of resources at the Holbrook Arts Center as they create.
Twenty-three performing arts students traveled on the same day to Manhattan. After reading reviews and assessing theatre district options, they reached a consensus to see Mean Girls on Broadway. This group included actors, playwrights, and the directors of the coming fall play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.
A smaller contingent of choreography students ventured to EMPAC at RPI in Troy, New York, to take in a contemporary dance piece, Dolap, performed by Taldans, a pair of Turkish dancers and choreographers. The performance includes the use of a full-size refrigerator which the dancers employ as an inanimate third performer. The choreography students were inspired by the strength and beauty of the dancers’ interaction with the massive household appliance.
MacWright and arts faculty plan these trips with real intention and purpose: “We want to show our kids artists of all backgrounds, and our location facilitates such ease of access to incredible artists, performances, and art installations. So, we pack the field trips with art in order to get their eyes on as much different work as possible.”