Semester Ending with Diverse Group of Student and Faculty Projects for Worcester Art Museum
Through the new Worcester State University partnership with the Worcester Art Museum, WSU places students in the community and enriches students’ learning beyond the traditional classroom. This academic year, the two organizations teamed up on five different projects.
Two projects, which joined the talent of Visual and Performing Arts professors and students with space at WAM, are set for a public exhibit at the museum on May 8. One is an exhibit called “Boondoggle” and the other is a wearable art fashion show that takes place at noon. Both exhibits are free with a WSU ID.
A third project involves the Psychology Department. Professors and students researched how people use specific galleries before a new installation. They will continue the research once the new installation in completed over the summer. The information allows WAM to gain insight into how the improved gallery configuration will affect attendees’ interaction with the art.
In a fourth project, a WSU class about docent training, which takes place in the museum, VPA Professor Catherine Wilcox-Titus coordinated a multi-semester program that ultimately will lead to a paid internship for students as docents at WAM.
The last project matches the Computer Science Department with WAM’s Jeppson Idea Lab in creating an app for use with current projects taking place in the lab.
VPA Professor and artist Michael Hachey taught VP300, an interdisciplinary arts seminar for VPA majors which includes art, music and theatre, at WAM. In this course, students created art and learned from a variety of arts-related professionals. Michelle Poirier, a dancer, guided students through improvisational movement in reaction, relation, and response to various works of art in the galleries. Installation artist Amy Archambault worked with the students in found-object transformations and constructions. The course culminates in an installation entitled “Boondoggle,” on view in Studio 206 in the Higgins Education Wing on Wednesday, May 8 in the afternoon.
Wearable Art Fashion Show
VPA Professor Stacey Parker, an artist and sculptor, is taking advantage of the WAM partnership as an opportunity to exhibit the wearable art her students created as their final projects. Working together, the students and WAM produced the Wearable Art Fashion Show, which takes place in the Renaissance Court of WAM on May 8 at noon. Click here to watch a video of the show made by Cam Ciesluk, a communication major.
Configuring the Old Masters Gallery
Psychology Professor Amy L. Cota-McKinley, Ph.D., an expert in this area of research, formed an evaluative team with students to assess gallery use before and after the re-installation of paintings in the Old Masters Gallery at WAM, a much-anticipated event for fall 2013. Paintings in the gallery are by artists such as Giulio Procaccini, Bernardo Strossi, Jusepe de Ribera and Rembrandt van Rijn. Cota-McKinley’s work this semester measured the audience response to the original organization of the gallery. Next fall’s work will measure response to the new approach that is called “salon style,” considered friendlier to visitors and more inviting for public engagement with the art, that will be completed over the summer. Through this project, students Sara Murphy, Michelle Henault, and Amberly Bliss gained valuable research experience while uncovering key information to the museum about the success of the new gallery configuration.
Docent Training Class
This semester, VPA Professor Catherine Wilcox-Titus, who teaches art history and curates the Mary Cosgrove Dolphin Gallery at WSU, coordinated a new multi-semester docent training course taught by WAM educator Martha Chiarchiaro. Wilcox-Titus sponsored eight students for this semester. Once the students successfully complete this course, WAM will offer them a paid internship in the fall providing tours for visitors to the newly reinstalled Old Masters Gallery and also engaging in museum projects. The real-life museum experience for these students prepares them for a number of career paths in the arts, communications, non-profit industries, and community service.
Apps for the Jeppson Idea Lab
The technical sciences at WSU also lent a hand to WAM as part of this new partnership. Computer Science Department Chair Karl R. Wurst worked with Tim Furman of WAM and WSU seniors on their capstone projects to produce a website and iPad-compatible apps for content related to the first Jeppson Idea Lab, the Orantes sculptures. The students’ spring capstone project progressed with input from the WAM education department, conservation, and graphic design.
With the successful implementation of these five joint projects, WSU and WAM plan to continue and grow the partnership for fall 2013. Key players in the developing these projects include Marcia Lagerway, head of education at WAM, and Katrina Stacy, assistant curator of education at WAM, who have guided these projects with time, encouragement, and care. These projects are also the result of the visionary leadership of WSU President Barry Maloney and WAM Director Matthias Waschek as well as the students, staff and faculty at both institutions.
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Submitted by Professor of Philosophy Kristin Waters, Ph.D., WSU’s presidential fellow for art, education, and community.