Last week, Art Builds Creativity (ABC) program participants wrapped their first museum visit of the school year. Students studied Florine Stettheimer’s Still Life Number One with Flowers and created their own still life based on the painting in the studio. The ABC program (formally known as Art and the Basic Curriculum) is a visual art enrichment program available to fourth grade classes at Title I schools in Memphis. It provides quality art education and an authentic museum experience to students and teachers in Memphis, and has been doing so since 1979. Today, the goals of ABC are to increase creativity skills and reinforce language arts skills recommended by participating teachers.
Florine Stettheimer (Linda Nochlin’s “Rococo Subversive”) was born in New York in 1871 to a very wealthy family. As a little girl and young adult she spent a lot of time traveling the world. After studying art in college she moved to Europe for a few years where she attended fun gallery openings and important museums to see how famous French artists were painting at the time. Florine saw artwork that did not look realistic like a photograph but instead the brushstrokes were messy, the lines were loose, and colors were vivid, thick, and had many layers. This was very different from the way that American artists were painting at the time. She loved this French painting style dearly so when she moved back to New York in 1914 she began using some of these new painting techniques in her own artwork. Florine became well known for her paintings that included bright colors, loose lines, and rough textures.
Manhatta, a 1921 documentary art film by Paul Strand, is next to the Stettheimer painting in our gallery. Florine was 50 then, so she totally experienced NYC when it looked like this. Maybe she even watched Manhatta….?
Thanks to ABC instructors Kelly Seagraves for the photographs and Katie Lepo for the great teaching.
For more information on the Brooks ABC program, visit brooksmuseum.org/art-builds-creativity