Sharing Experience Through Visual Storytelling
Mary Toscano’s Art Truck exhibition, Dog Days, comes to a close this August after a full year of road trips along the Wasatch front. Toscano’s series of five drawings presented an opportunity for students and teachers alike to reflect on personal experiences that relate to contemporary culture. Participants of all ages explored narrative elements in Toscano’s images before creating drawings of their own that shared events, challenges, and memories from their lives.
Teachers conveyed that the guided exploration of Toscano’s exhibition allowed students to “discover” the story as they asked questions, observed closely, determined the story’s chronology, and drew on knowledge from other academic areas such as reading and writing. Many students were pleasantly surprised when they detected two parallel perspectives that merged into one narrative as the timeline progressed, ending in a serendipitous convergence between strangers, all on behalf of Mary Toscano’s carefree dog. In particular, students strongly related to the emotions felt by the characters and the challenges they faced, willing them to express their own experiences in a similar fashion. In the student’s drawings, some illustrated birthdays, vacations and favorite activities, while others visualized difficult life events like the death of a family member, or other hardships.
Significantly, the Dog Days series provided a chance for students to identify visual elements in artwork and connect those elements to an overall meaning, often generating nuanced perceptions based on the visual relationships they found as individuals. Later, students applied their knowledge of intentionally incorporating art elements into drawing exercises in the classroom, providing them with a greater sense of creative direction and purpose. The diversity of visitors’ interpretations and creations at each Art Truck visit is a testament to the value of different perspectives and the innumerable possible ways an individual can experience the world.
For the 2017 school season, UMOCA is pleased to present whereABOUTS the work of artists Jaime Castillo and Michael Garcia. To schedule an Art Truck visit to your school, please contact elly.baldwin@Utahmoca.org
written by: Elly Baldwin