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July 2017

Insights on Perspective At the Whitney Museum

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Photographs by Michael J. Leahy

In front of Deana Lawson's photograph "Son of Cush," part of this year's Whitney Biennial. From left, Kate Fenneman Stokes, Emely, Anna Kay, our Whitney educator, Abdoulaye, Jennifer, Sumitra, Nogaye and Melanie Rosen Brooks.

Three very different works of art were the focus as a Whitney Museum staff member escorted Scholarship Plus students on a July 12 gallery visit – one that ended in a turnabout, as all the visitors took up drawing pencils and sketched part of the work of an artist from the museum's current Biennial show.

Seated on the floor or on stools in a semicircle around each work of art, the students were asked to look closely at the two paintings and a photograph, considering what the artists' techniques said and suggested about the work. Anna Kay, a museum educator, took as her theme the idea of the artist as observer, in a Socratic exchange with the visitors that included information on the artists and their techniques.

Three works were considered: Edward Hopper's "New York Interior" and Archibald John Motley Jr.'s "Gettin' Religion," both from the permanent collection, and the photographer Deana Lawson's "Son of Cush," chosen for this year's Whitney Biennial, an apparently casual photo that contained many complexities and surprises. In an exercise designed to help illuminate those complexities, each member of our group was given a piece of cardboard, a sheet of paper and a drawing pencil, and asked to draw some aspect of the photo. The discussion that followed led to a number of insights.

The visit ended with time for more individual exploration of the museum, and with a surprise: Passes giving each student, along with a companion, a free admission to the museum.

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Anna Kay, a Whitney educator, makes a point about Edward Hopper's "New York Interior."

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Turnabout: The group sketches details of Deana Lawson's "Son of Cush."

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