Parrish Museum Inspires Fifth Graders

Teachers Soraya Brooks and Barbara Strong led Ross School’s fifth grade class on a visit to the new Parrish Art Museum in Southampton on December 13. The students’ tour of the collection started outside, as docent Jim Bauer asked them to pause and look at the museum building as they approached the entrance. Once inside, the class reflected on the importance of the architecture as another form of art. In the case of the Parrish, they discussed how the simplicity of the building’s design made an impression on them, and Jim further explained how the architects set the museum at an optimum angle to catch the northern light, so important to artists, even though the location of the building isn’t square with the highway.

Next, the students moved through the galleries, studying paintings and three-dimensional art that are mostly the work of East End artists. The collection spans a wide range of styles, from impressionism (like William Merritt Chase) to realistic (Sheridan Lord and Fairfield Porter) to abstract (Esteban Vicente) styles. The object of the field trip was for students to find a piece that appealed to them and then reproduce it in their sketchbooks using colored pencils. They will use these sketches in art class as they learn about printmaking and practice carving linoleum to make prints based on their observations.

The diversity of the Parrish’s collection meant that students scattered throughout the museum, finding inspiration in very different works. Diego Vanegas concentrated on representing a three-dimensional painting depicting a red WWII-era biplane extending from a red canvas circle by Malcolm Morley. Ella Griffiths focused on a very large, multimedia portrayal of graphic black-and-white poppies with flocked centers by Donald Sultan. Ava O’Shea was drawn to a contemporary piece titled Red Inside Green by Eric Freeman. “I really like the neon colors,” Ava said, a sentiment echoed by Joshua Enright-Rabin, who reproduced an installation of actual neon tubes put together by Keith Sonnier.

By all accounts, the students found the museum “awesome,” and left inspired to contribute their creative endeavors to the art world.