University News

International Photos Catalyst for Community-Wide Arts Education

Published: September 11, 2008 | Category: Arts

Southern Utah University’s Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery will feature some of the most well-known photographs in popular culture with the In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits exhibit opening Thursday, September 11, at a 7 p.m. reception. But to many, the opportunity to see renowned photos from around the world pales in comparison to the educational activities the gallery will offer in conjunction with this popular traveling display.

From now through the end of October, the Braithwaite Gallery will host over 100 school groups from the surrounding communities in an effort to help more than 2600 school children across the region increase their understanding of the fine arts.

Each tour, run by gallery staff and SUU students, will include a lesson on the similarities and differences between the eye and the camera, a discussion about local culture, a language arts-focused scavenger hunt of the photo exhibit and a class photo.

In addition, the teachers of participating classes will receive a Teacher’s Packet which includes lesson plans to help prepare students for the gallery visit, as well as one for follow-up in-class discussions. The lessons furnished for teachers will focus on core curriculum from the language arts, social studies and math. Each class will also receive supplies for a photography-based art lesson to follow their experience with the national Geographic exhibit, and their teachers will receive a CD full of additional resources readily-available to further enhance the lessons and activities based on the class’ gallery experience.

According to the Braithwaite Gallery’s Education Director Karen Gale, these classroom enhancement materials are being funded through the Braithwaite Gallery’s “Friends of the Gallery” as a means to help fill gaps in arts education programs in most public school curricula.

States Gale, “Art is an important form of communication – and often a vital tool for communication among children. Our hope is to make it as easy as possible for teachers to integrate the arts into other areas of their classroom curriculum, thereby, increasing children’s exposure to the arts in a very applicable way.”

With such well-known images, the National Geographic exhibit is, indeed, a great way to help those who may not be well-versed within the arts access some inspirational and telling pieces.

In addition to experiencing an emotional connection with the photos on display, Gale hopes students and the community at large will “gain an appreciation for differences in cultures and recognize individuality as something to celebrate.”

To this end, the gallery is also helping to coordinate a visit from National Geographic Photographer Steve McCurry in early-October. McCurry is best known for his photograph “Afghan Girl,” one of National Geographic’s most notable images. McCurry will visit various SUU classes while on campus. He will also speak in one of the SUU Convocations program’s weekly lectures, open to all of campus and the general public.

In addition, the gallery is currently working to plan a Family Night at the gallery for October. Though details are still in flux, this will be yet another opportunity for families of all ages to visit the gallery and access a great cultural and artistic resource.

As with all other gallery exhibits, the In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits display will be free and open to the general public during all regular Braithwaite gallery operating hours: every Tuesday through Saturday, from noon to 7 p.m. The gallery is located on the ground floor of the Braithwaite Liberal Arts Center building on the east end of the SUU campus.

The National Geographic Exhibit will run from September 11 through November 1 of this year.

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