By Jill Burke
Summer gives me a great opportunity to reflect on all we’ve accomplished during the school year through OMAA’s educational outreach program. The Governor Baxter School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing elementary class recently came to the Museum for its last field trip of the year, with a primary focus on the just-ended Bernard Langlais exhibition. Although Langlais was their primary focus, the students enjoyed the permanent collection in the Barn Gallery, along with a Museum-wide hunt for clues. They also enjoyed the recently ended Patience E. Haley watercolor exhibition and a garden and sculpture tour.
This small but mighty class of second, third, and fourth graders produced a large body of work during my 20 visits to their classroom during the 2015-16 school year, culminating in their third annual art show, co-hosted by OMAA. We hung over 70 original works of art the kids produced and greeted 60 friends and family of the artists, along with the entire board of directors at the Baxter School.
Over the course of the year, we studied many artists from OMAA’s permanent collection: Marsden Hartley, Alexander Calder, Rockwell Kent, Beverly Hallam, Dozier Bell, Wolf Kahn, Eric Aho, Antonio Matteio, Bernard Langlais, and Walt Kuhn. We practiced color theory, managing our palates, color and mood, monochromatic themes, value and grayscale, field of vision and view finders, form, volume, and portraiture. Wow, we packed so much into this year!
I appreciate so much this unique and special group of children and their teachers. They are always polite, smart, funny and a pleasure to work with. They bring so much joy to the world. In the fall, we plan to continue our collaboration at the East End School in the Portland Public school district, where Baxter students will be mainstreamed. According to Curriculum Director John Jones, there will be two elementary classes of ten children each, as preschoolers move up and the program opens up to include not just the profoundly deaf but hard of hearing children too. In the meantime, summer school has begun so I have the pleasure of working with this great group of kids (plus some middle and high school students) some more this summer!