Cardigan teachers bring a tremendous amount of passion and energy to their classrooms–– drawing on their own prior knowledge, sharing important primary resources and documents, and engaging students with hands-on experiential lessons. And when the world outside of the classroom offers a unique experience, they take advantage of that too. That’s what Art Department Chair Nina Silitch P’19,’21 did when she found out about an exhibit of Korean ink paintings by Park Dae Sung on display at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College (recently renovated): she organized a field trip and shared the work of a master artist with her eighth-grade art students and her ninth-grade photography students.
Park Dae Sung: Ink Reimagined includes 23 works of art, many of which are being shown for the first time in the United States; several are more than 25 feet long. “Park Dae Sung’s work merges Korean art of the past and a contemporary aesthetic,” says Hood Museum Director John Stomberg. “His brushwork, subjects and the medium (ink on paper) are traditional; his use of color, scale and composition are modern.” According to the museum’s website, the paintings depict both real and imagined landscapes, and “viewers will walk away with a newfound understanding of what it means to find beauty in what is old, and with a fresh perspective on humanity's contemporary relationships with nature, identity, and homeland.”
Park Dae Sung’s artwork also incorporates calligraphy, a practice common with Korean painters prior to the 1920s. Park’s calligraphy contains self-composed prose and poems that reflect his thoughts and philosophy. “Some of the Korean students on the field trip were able to translate the poems for the group,” says Ms. Silitch. “And because of their earlier education in Korea, they were also able to share details of Korean history from the time when the artist was painting. It was a powerful experience to learn about the exhibit from our students.”
They also learned about the exhibit from the curator of the exhibit and Dartmouth Associate Professor of Art History Sunglim Kim P’21, who is also the parent of recent graduate Cardigan Matthew Jung ’21. She accompanied the students on their tour and gave them an advanced copy of the book that celebrates and documents the works within the exhibit.
After viewing the exhibit, the students also had an opportunity to practice calligraphy with traditional ink painting tools on rice paper. “Art teacher Barrett Capistran and I attended a teacher workshop prior to the field trip and had a chance to practice calligraphy then,” explains Ms. Silitch. “I wanted my students to have the same experience, so I asked the Hood Museum to arrange a lesson on calligraphy for them and they were kind enough to accommodate us.”
The experiences of the Cardigan students continue to be rich and varied. While much of their learning takes place inside the classrooms on campus, when possible the faculty take opportunities to utilize the rich resources that can be found throughout the Upper Valley and New Hampshire, allowing them the opportunity to be out in the world asking questions and learning from experience.