Grab six sheets of paper and a pencil and head for the special exhibition Hiroshi Sugimoto: End of Time. Keep these words in mind as you explore the show: Begin, Age, Memory, Time, Dream, End. For each word, find the piece that best exemplifies that concept for you and draw that image on one of the sheets of paper. Be sure to spend more time looking at the photograph than at your paper!
This project, designed by Assistant Curator of Education Christine Bisetto, was one component of a recent visit to the Modern by the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. After a tour of the show, the pairs of "Big" and "Little" were sent off to explore on their own and complete the art project described above. The results were beautiful, not only in terms of the drawings, but in terms of the ideas that the children expressed. Many drew Sugimoto's Manatee, 1994 as their example of Begin, due to the inclusion of the baby manatee, referencing the beginning of life. Some rendered examples from the Architecture series as examples of Memory and Age -- they had clearly paid attention during the tour! One girl utilized the Conceptual Forms gallery in her drawing of Memory, because the photographs reminded her of when she first began learning math in school. Another young man drew an example from the Seascapes series for his example of Dream because he felt that the photographs were open-ended enough to encourage you to dream about your own visit to the beach.
Not only did the students incorporate what they had learned on their tour of the exhibition, but they applied their own imaginations and creative solutions! One of the first pieces my group discussed on our tour was U. A. Playhouse, New York, 1978. Typical of the Theaters series, this work features a bright white movie screen. We talked about what moviegoers normally expect to see when they go to the theater: a screen filled with people and places and stories. With this blank white screen, however, the children were delighted to project their own movies from their imaginations onto the photograph -- as though the white space was an open invitation for their personal creative output. By establishing early on that modern and contemporary art rewarded a multiplicity of interpretations, these children were primed to apply their imaginations to all the works they encountered.
So, grab your paper and pencil! I am looking forward to learning which of Sugimoto's images you draw in response to Begin, Age, Memory, Time, Dream, and End.