Farragut Middle School art teacher Angela McCarter had an opportunity this summer to get close and see such artworks as those of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Titian.
Now, she is bringing her knowledge and experiences from the 2017 National Gallery of Art Teacher Institute on Art to her students.
“I’ve already been sharing some of the things I’ve learned, in particular, stories that you may not, necessarily, read in an art history book, but the curators there [at the National Gallery of Art] … had all these interesting stories about the paintings and things that might not learn about in books,” McCarter said.
“We looked at a lot of portraits,” she said. “One project, in particular, is to not only do a portrait that is representational or realistic, but on the back side of their portrait, they would have to incorporate like, maybe, a secret slogan or symbol about themselves because some of the paintings we looked at actually had that on the backs of them.
“There would be more information about the person that was painted on the front. I thought that was a really interesting concept that the kids might get into is doing a more realistic picture of themselves on one side but then on the other side maybe they invent a logo for themselves or symbol that stands for themselves, like a trademark.”
McCarter, who teaches art to FMS sixth, seventh- and eighth-graders, attended the institute, which took place in Washington, D.C., from July 24 through July 29.
“The program really tries to help teachers from all different subjects and all different levels learn how to integrate art history into their lessons,” McCarter said.
The six-day seminar brought together teachers of art, English, history, math, and related subjects from 22 different states.
“I had to apply [to attend], and they accept basically 50 people from the entire United States,” she said. “They try to get teachers from throughout the entire country, so there might be two from the Southeast or two from the Northwest.”
McCarter said the program director said there were more than 200
“Knox County [Schools] paid my registration fee, which was $200, and Farragut Middle School helped me with my gas mileage,” she said, adding she had a lot of personal expenses, such as hotel accommodations and food, which came out of her pocket.
“But, I felt like the opportunity was one I just couldn’t pass up, so it was worth it for me to go,” McCarter said. “I had known about this program for several years. I had actually applied probably about seven or eight years ago.
“It’s fairly prestigious in the art education world, and I’ve known a couple of art teachers many years ago who attended who are now retired and they always talked so highly of it,” she added.
“It’s also something our professional organization promotes at its national conference, so last year when I went to the National Art Education Conference, this program had a booth, where they were giving out information. So, I actually talked to the guy who was manning the booth.”
McCarter told him she had applied before and he encouraged her to apply again.
“That was what really encouraged me to give it one more shot,” she said.
The program emphasized the social and cultural context of Renaissance art in Italy and Northern European countries between the 14th and 16th centuries. McCarter said attending the institute gave her more knowledge about art history of the Renaissance period and she had the experience of being with teachers from all over the country “and just talking to them about their situations, their classrooms, what they do — that was really invaluable to me.
“And, also being at the National Gallery of Art is never a bad thing,” she added. “It’s a beautiful museum filled with art from throughout the world.
“All the art that you study in books, seeing it in person is such a richer experience than learning about it in a book, so being right in front of the piece of art that we’re talking about — instead of looking at it on a slide — was so much more meaningful.”