Students stand in front of a 19th century painting of Yosemite Valley. One student points out a group of tourists, another notices an Indian guide walking in front of him. In the center of the painting, light color emanates from a large sun. With help from a Yale University curator, students were then able to come to the conclusion that this painting was a piece of propaganda in order to get Americans to move west.
This is something students in the AP Language Arts class at Woodland Regional High School would not have realized if they had not attended the art field trip.
AP Language Arts students attended the Yale University art museum, accompanied by their teacher, Gail Pells, where they learned about the history of many paintings and how to use them in their writing.
On the AP exam, the students have the option to use a photograph source on their synthesis essay. They will be given seven sources and they will have to choose at least three sources to aid in their argument. The field trip helped them gain knowledge on annotating photos such as these and using them in their argument.
Students in the past may have not been very confident in choosing these picture sources based on a lack of knowledge on how to use them.
Yale curators aided the students in analyzing these paintings by asking basic questions like what they noticed in a specific painting. Students were then able to get an insight to the deeper meanings of these paintings.
“We saw pieces of art that told deeper stories than what the eye can see,” said Carla Piccolo, a student on the field trip.
Students then took notice to paintings they normally would have walked past.
“It really opened my mind to the art world,” said Sam White. “I saw many beautiful pieces of art and many mesmerizing paintings.”
Pells enjoys seeing her students begin to appreciate the stories within the artwork.
Pells said, “I love seeing the light go on, the epiphanies in the eyes of the students when they start getting excited about making the connections and recognizing that they can do it.”