In the 2014-2015 school year, Mr. Brennan’s English II classes and Dr. Stone’s AP Environmental Science classes transformed their regular class curriculum. Both Brennan and Stone adopted fellowship in THE BIG PICTURE educator enrichment program and used photography to enhance their class learnings. The integration of photography into both classes pushed the creative side of students and opened the stage for them to connect their art with literature or science.
Mr. Brennan’s classes, over the course of a semester, made contemporary connections between the painting “Untitled” by John Thomas Biggers and Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart. Students read the novel and analyzed the painting before the project, and explored how the two related to the concept of change. Once students explored the different connotations of the word “change”, they used original photographs to express their opinions on change. Brennan asked his students: What causes change? Why does change happen? How does change affect individuals? And how should we respond to change? Students answered these questions by taking photographs.
At the end of the art projects, students observed their classmates photographs and voted for the top five. At the end of the semester, Brennan chose the best photographs (the ones that showed the most in depth thinking) and submitted them to the North Carolina Museum of Art.
The NCMA supports THE BIG PICTURE Educator Enrichment Program and opened up an exhibit in the museum’s East Building to showcase the photographs of the state winners. Many photographs taken by Mr. Brennan’s students made it into the public exhibit in the beginning of November. Student’s photographs are framed in the exhibit along with a plaque that credits the student photographer. The plaque also includes a description of the student’s position.
“I am so proud [of my students]; it is a really cool experience to see something that you give students to do in class be in the museum,” said Brennan. “It’s big and special and wonderful but it also goes to show the hard work that students put into the project…and [the exhibit] doesn’t seem too out of place in the museum.”
The exhibit is open to the public at the NCMA. Under each student’s name on their photo’s plaque, museum goers can find where they attend high school. Check out Leesville students artwork the next time you visit the North Carolina Museum of Art.