Bringing a Painting to Life
The Newark Museum’s Education Department sponsored a series of
conferences for American teachers in 2010 that focused on ways to use American art to teach history and culture, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The conferences have resulted in various new activities and curriculum resources for schools.
During the April 2010 conference, the Museum invited an actress named Tia James to portray the young woman in Winslow Homer’s famous 1866 painting, “Near Andersonville.” Before her performance at the Museum, Ms. James read various narratives and historical accounts about the lives of enslaved African Americans during the Civil War era. This research enabled her to create a script that introduces us to the character which she named “Charity.” Wearing an exact replica of the clothing in Homer’s painting, Ms. James’ “Charity” expresses her fear and anxiety about the progress of the war and what the future might be.
In January 2011, we invited Ms. James back to the Museum to professionally film her performance. This 10-minute production was developed with the Museum’s Education and Information Systems Departments working in partnership. The finished film is now available on YouTube and used by schools that are seeking connections to the Museum’s American art collection. The film will be the central component of a new curriculum for schools that addresses the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War (available in Fall 2011).
To learn more about school programs the Newark Museum offers, visit newarkmuseum.org.
This article was written by Ted Lind, Deputy Director for Education, Newark Museum.
Video created by Raymond Stivala, Manager of Web / Multimedia Development, Newark Museum.
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