Docent Dialogue: What Does a Docent Do?

We’ve already profiled one of our illustrious docents, but today we’re looking a bit more closely at what it is that a docent actually does. The word “docent” comes from the Latin docere, meaning “to teach.” Google the word, and that is what you will find on almost any website dedicated to docents, but we’re not here to talk dictionary definitions. What do docents mean to FWMoA and the community we serve?

What Do You See? Talking to Kids about Art

Here in the education department we are often greeted with the familiar refrain of “I’m not sure an Art Museum is the place for my family” or “What will I do with my family in the Art Museum?” when we invite visitors out of the Midwest summer heat and into our wonderfully air-conditioned building. Maybe it’s a misconception about art being stuffy, or that people without art degrees feel unprepared to take their families through an art exhibition, or that art is just plain boring. Whichever one happens to be the case, taking kids through an art exhibit can be easy and fun! All you have to do is ask one simple question: What do you see?

Treasures from the Vault: Concert Roller Organ

This week’s treasure is a peculiar curiosity. Instead of a painting or print, this week I present a Concert Roller Organ! What is a Concert Roller Organ you ask? Well, it was only the most fashionable form of entertainment for working class Victorian Era Americans. See and listen to FWMoA's Concert Organ play you a tune in the video at the end of this post!

Confession: I’m a Chalk Walk Wimp

As sure as the sun will rise and turn Main Street into a frying pan at the peak of an Indiana summer, FWMoA will, every July, organize the area’s largest community art project—Chalk Walk. In 2007, as a first-time and unpaid intern at FWMoA, I had the privilege of stepping in at the last minute to create the artwork for the square of the event’s lead sponsor. I was markedly more flexible, heat tolerant, and responsibility-free then, making me the ideal candidate to spend 14 hours on the baking pavement rubbing my fingertips away in the name of art. I haven’t participated since.

Off the Cuff: The Human behind the Art, Manhattan’s Mercurial Muse Audrey Munson

The history of American art is filled with little-known human stories that I find generally more fascinating than much of the art.  Today, I’m thinking about a young artists’ model, Audrey Munson, whose mercurial rise to fame was as unlikely as her despairing descent into the black void of the rest of her life. At the golden dawn of the 20th Century, Audrey Munson, an impoverished pre-teenager, caught the eye of photographer Felix Benedict Herzog as she pressed her face against a department store window and soon thereafter became the most famous artists’ model in American history.

Artist Highlight: Michelle Andonian

This Picture I Gift, Michelle Andonian’s series featured in The National: Best Contemporary Photography 2018, is a documentary series that illustrates the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide. The effects of the genocide are especially meaningful for Michelle because her grandmother, Sarah, somehow escaped the chaos before it was too late. Only 9 years old at the beginning of the genocide in 1915, Sarah survived the massacre of 1.5 million Christian Armenians and displacement of hundreds of thousands at the persecution of the failing Ottoman Empire.

FWMoA: Reality TV

The Fort Wayne Museum of Art will collect, preserve and present American and related art to engage and educate broad and diverse audiences throughout the region to add value to their lives. I’ve copied and pasted this sentence into hundreds of grant proposals, stamped it into countless museum publications, analyzed its meaning with board members, worked with my colleagues to weave those activities into every museum program, and conveyed this message to every casual visitor who wanders onto the requisite “About” page of our website. Those 32 words define the work of this museum every day for the staff and board as we put our shoulders to the wheel in the name of art for the betterment of the community. But what does that work look like in real life? If life at FWMoA were a reality TV show, what would our producers exploit for the sake of juicy television?

Art Term Tuesday: What is Art?

In this section of the blog we’ll be attempting to define different types of terms as they relate to art and creative expression. Our definitions will be rooted in what’s generally accepted among art world peers, but infused with our personal observations. And, in the art world, just as in the “real” world, terms have double meaning. “Value”, for example, a common term, refers to the lightness or darkness of a color, or it can express what the art itself is worth. For our first term, however, I hope to define “art,” a daunting task to be sure!

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