Welcome! I hope you’ve made it over from my first blog: come to the ART side! Thank you for taking time to check out the new space as I begin to switch the focus of my Educator career from teaching students how to create visual art to teaching students the History of Art!
Let’s talk origin story, cause you know I’m a superhero…but with art.
I’ve had a love of art history since my first year in college. Up until that point my knowledge of art was limited to what I learned in general history classes and random artists that I had been exposed to in art which was, sad to say, very little. My first art history professor Dr. Goode was a phenomenal instructor and introduced me to art from Prehistory all the way to up Contemporary. We used Gardner’s Art Through the Ages Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 for those two classes and it was very rapid fire, and a lot of memorization. Notecards were my best friend for studying late into the night, and sometimes into the early morning! I took other art history classes, Modern Art, Women in Art History and a specialized course on just the Museums of New York from Dr. Brettell. I loved learning about art history and writing about it, in fact one of my professors at one point told me that I could have a career in writing about art. It is a moment that is forever engrained in my mind, then again this was the same professor that before our final exam said, “I’m canceling the exam, everyone gets an A!” I think it was him that really sparked by curiosity for art in other countries, with all of his wild tales of art and adventure in places like Mexico City and their brilliantly colorful art scene.
After I graduated, I began teaching elementary art and while I had a lot of knowledge about artists, I knew that analyzing art works from history at the level I had in college was not going to be done there. I would briefly mention an artist here or there, but never too in depth and slowly over the years I began to lose my art history knowledge. Even when I began teaching middle school four years ago it was a struggle to incorporate art history into my studio classes. It might have just been the lack of time, or that the students were just not interested when I did introduce different artists.
How Ms. Alkire began teaching High School: A Brief History
Per my struggle to incorporate more art history I decided to write a grant to attend an APSI intensive to gain more knowledge for myself. They paid for me to go to the AP Art History training and I was so excited! There were only about nine of us in the class together, but what an experience! Surrounded by adults who love art and are teaching art history next year! Now at the time, I was not slated to teach high school anything. I was the only middle school teacher in the room, and had no experience with AP Art History whatsoever. During the class however I voiced my desire to teach at the high school level, to again challenge myself as an educator. Toward the end of our intensive it was our teacher who informed me that a colleague had mentioned my current school was interested in hiring a new AP Art History teacher and I jumped at the chance to interview! Which I ended up doing over Google Hangouts because I was in Chicago at the time, but I prepared and I felt that it went really well. I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly but just a few hours later I received a call that I was being offered the position! The rest is art history! (See what I did there?)
Like I mentioned art history, how I knew it, was sitting in a lecture hall and furiously copying notes while my professor chatted on at the speed of light, flipping though slide after slide. However, my entire view point on art history has changed since taking the APSI course in the summer with Doug Darracott. Learning about art history is one thing, but being on the other side teaching it is a completely different ball game.
Learning about history, about art, has to be an engaging experience especially if my students are going to remember all the pieces they need to for the AP Exam. I’m still working on that, and trying to keep up with all the new material that I am learning along the way. A few weeks ago Doug emailed that he had began a blog to share strategies and knowledge with art history teachers and it made the wheels in my head turn. For a while now my other blog had slowly begun to be a lot of repeated lessons and tips, and I needed a fresh start. My welcome presentation for my AP Art History students included this quote and it inspired me:
“History has remembered the kings and warriors, because they destroyed. Art has remembered the people, because they created.”
This quote has been the driving force of my class and my renewed love for art history. When creating this site, I knew I wanted to incorporate it somehow and I think it’s worked out beautifully.
So here I am, a new district, a new school, a new grade level, a new adventure
I’m ready for the journey to continue, are you?
How do you incorporate Art History into your studio class? Let me know in the comments!