I gave my first tour as a docent at the Laumeier Sculpture Park this past week. I’ve been on a crash course of training of weekly meetings, internet searches and online art exploration to prepare. Art is a lifelong passion for me. Now I am charged with sharing a little with a classroom field trip of Kindergarten kids. Big impressions can be made at such a young age. I am anxious to see if I can share some of my enthusiasm with these youngsters. The Park is 105 acres and has something like 70 major works - some part of the permanent collection, some on lone and others that are “site specific” installations that eventually erode or must be removed due to the effects to the outdoor elements. My plan was to keep is simple and hope to make an impression.
“Okay kids. I’m Wes Morgan and I am your docent. That means I am here to introduce you to some of the art and teach you a little about this museum. It is a museum too – even though it is outside. All of the work you will see today is created by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists who have produced monumental work.” I know some of this introduction was not going to be retained. I also knew, on a glorious Spring day like this one, it would be hard to leave this place without an impression.
Ten (10) five year olds require a high energy teacher and a few extra adult supervisors to coral so the tour begins with an intro and a bit of a gameplan. “Here’s what we are going to do. I have a playbook – and like a coach or a quarterback I will let you know what we will be doing as we go. So when I ask everyone to bring it in and huddle up - that means I am going to need your attention.” It worked like a charm. Inside an hour and a half I was able to brief this group on ten remarkable works of art. They were engaged and excited.
Nikki de Saint Phalle, Ernest Trova, Judith Shea, Mark de Suvero, Alexander Liberman, Robert Chambers, Charles Ginnever etc. They won’t remember the artists’ names. But they will remember something - colors, shapes, design and how the art made them feel. That’s something.