On Composition: 2018 Spring Education Program

| May 22, 2018

Untitled_Muxon_DowSome months ago, a gorgeous still life mysteriously wended its way back to the library and propped itself casually beside my desk. Whence it came, and where exactly it needed to go, required research, for the colorful study of a shiny blue teapot surrounded by bright apples and oranges on a copper tray, red cloth and silver jug in the background, was not immediately apparent. I investigated wth the help of Pocketknowledge, the digital archive of Teachers College — scouring through pages of digitalized images — eventually thrilled (if not admittedly a tad relieved) to discover the untitled watercolor on paper by “Muxon” (circa 1904-1922) among The Students of Arthur Wesley Dow Collection. This work, as it turned out, had been on loan to our faculty for the last nine years, while it previously enjoyed exhibition at the College’s Macy Gallery and the Gruss Center for Visual Arts at Lawrenceville School in New Jersey.

A leading and highly influential American art educator and artist, Dow taught that composition, or the building up of harmony, is the fundamental process in all the fine arts. He held that art should be approached through composition, rather than through imitative drawing, and that only through appreciation does the composer recognize harmony (Composition: A Series of Exercises Selected from A New System of Art Education, New York: Baker and Taylor, 1900, c1899).

If we relate the brush strokes, the effort to find art-structure resolves itself into a development of appreciation – a concept akin to the making and growth of the Gottesman Libraries Education Program; library-sponsored events are built on collaborative, community effort, with many thanks to all members who consistently make possible a series of educationally enlightening exercises: interesting book, guest, and film talks; key instructional offerings; lively musical performances in a variety of genres; timely and historical exhibits; thought-provoking book displays on topics relating to current affairs, learning, or personal interest.

This Spring we hosted ten talks, beginning with Mary Lee Grisanti, Teachers College doctoral candidate who spoke on leading female characters in literature and film who figure as “strong” women. Other guest speakers included: Rory Varrato, TC Ph’D candidate, on Love in Age of Extinction; TC students in anthropology, who celebrated their research projects; CITED panel on youth participatory research and de-colonizing teacher education; and Anna Hickey-Moody from RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, on interfaith childhoods and art. We partnered with the Film and Education Research Academy (FERA); Programs in Anthropology; and Department of Curriculum and Teaching.

Book talks kicked off with Anna Stetsanko of City University of New York on The Transformative Mind; TC adjunct professor David Austell and musicians Anne Taylor, of Columbia University Medical School and Jeff Greene, Founder and CEO of Evergreen Architectural Arts, for a superb fifteen-instrument performance (with readings and song) of The Tin Man (life of St Joseph of Arimathea); Ligia Lichia Lopez Lopez, of the University of Melbourne, on indigeneity; Michael Rebell, on Flunking Democracy. We hosted an encore film talk from last Spring, Adelante, with the Department of International and Transcultural Studies, and also worked with the Office of International Affairs; Department of Curriculum and Teaching; and Office of External Affairs.

Instruction comprised three general library tours/orientations for new students in mid January, as well as a tour for the 2018 cohort of Peace Corps Fellows, newly returned from service in Ghana, Indonesia, Fiji, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. We offered 6 workshops on library research; course reserves; K-12 resources; Smith Learning Theater; student educational activity grant; and cited reference searching. Self-guided offerings included vialogues, blogs, and monthly promotion of databases in areas relevant to programs and offerings of the College and/or month-long celebrations: Communication, Media, Learning Technologies; Change Leadership; Inspiring Women (Women’s History); Learning Analytics; and Resources for Alumni.

Live music in Everett Cafe featured returning student musicians: Wadsworth Strings (classical and longest running musical group); Kambujo (Peruvian jazz), Melissa Shetler (South African influenced jazz and folk), Angelica Tran (classical); TC Vocal Ensemble (eclectic), Shane Bordeau with new musicians George Nicholson and Ray Patton (jazz).

Daily Everett Cafe news displays captured lead stories from around the world, drawing on Newseum as a source. Inspired by stories in Proquest Historical Newspapers, we created just under 20 special news displays on topics relevant to the broad field of education, everything from the debut of the euro, January 4th, 1999, to the birthday of Sir James Barrie, May 9th, 1860,  Be sure to stay tuned for an upcoming summer exhibit that offers a new take on Today in History!

Staff Picks is curated each month by the Gottesman Libraries’ staff to highlight resources on educational topics and themes of special interest. We gratefully acknowledge Antonia Hubert’s curation of Survivors, Settlers & Assimilators: Transforming Jewish Identities; Simone Schloss, American Singers, American Song; Aanika Paris and Jasmine Sykes-Kunk, From the Classroom to the Streets: 50 Years of School-Based Activism; and Julie Schaeffer, How to Survive Being a Teenager. Similarly at the Everett News Cafe, you’ll find a new book collection every few weeks that relates to current affairs, education, or learning environments. Enter Smoking Guns: Smoking Mirrors (gun debate); Grassroots Algorithms (social media); Woman Interrupted (women and inequality); What Is Real in the Media? (fake news).

Book displays, like library installation and exhibits are designed by the Edlab team, who presented SiNY (Kasser Family Exhibition Space): Portraits of Power, by Adam Tramantaro (Kasser); and The Art of Living, by Ziv Schneider (Offit Gallery).

Muxon’s work will undoubtedly join its siblings in the lower levels of the library sometime soon. But for now (and ask anyone who sits near me), we have Dow, tea, oranges, and Spring birds on the Callery pear trees outside our Russell Hall windows …ah, harmony.

Untitled_Dow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Education Program Spring 2018 Offerings Attendees
Talks 10 290
     Book 4 122
     Guest 5 130
     Film 1 38
Instructional 50 130
     Tours 4 20
     Workshops 10 110
     Online Discussions 9 n/a
     Self Guided 27 n/a
Live Musical Performances 10 n/a
Displays & Exhibits 111
     Special News 19 n/a
     Regular News 81 n/a
     Book Collections 8 n/a
     Installations – Gallery 3 n/a
Total 181 420

 

Images:

Untitled (n/a, 1904 – 1922), by Muxon, from The Students of Arthur Wesley Dow Collection. Courtesy of Teachers College, Columbia University.

Untitled (n/a, 1904-1922), by Unknown, from The Students of Arthur Wesley Dow Collection. Courtesy of Teachers College, Columbia University.