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May 16, 2016

Case study: Documenting bastides, France’s medieval market towns

Editor’s note: this post was updated to reflect Artstor’s platform changes.
John Reps, Monpazier

John Reps, Monpazier, 1951 (founded 1284)

In the 13th century, southwestern France gave birth to several hundred new planned towns, partly to replace villages destroyed in the Albigensian Crusades and partly to revivify a stagnating economy and tame areas of wilderness¹. Some were designed as fortress communities, while others were laid out as simple agricultural villages. The great majority, however, had a different function. Known as bastides, they were created as market towns with the aim of concentrating the population in secure places for ease of administration while returning a profit to their sponsors. Their founders were the great feudal lords of the region: kings, dukes, counts, and viscounts.

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May 3, 2016

A well-deserved salute to AP® Art History teachers

Each May, around the world, almost twenty five thousand students sit for the AP® Art History exam. This year’s test falls on the third of May (a date not lost on many seasoned Art History teachers). It is also quite different from the AP® exam you or your children may have taken. This time, students will be taking a test that covers a newly designed AP® Art History curriculum. This is the first year that the exam is truly global in nature.

This curriculum includes works from the European tradition that we all learned in our survey course, such as the Acropolis, but also goes beyond that to include artists from Native American tribal traditions, the rest of the Americas, and works from the Pacific, Africa, and Asia. There are now 250 key works of art or architecture that a student must know quite well in addition to those the teachers and students explore to round out the experience. For the first time, the AP® Art History exam covers something of the cultural heritage of each student in the room while providing them the chance to learn about our global artistic production.

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May 3, 2016

Case study: JSTOR Forum in the K-12 environment

Editor’s note: this post has been updated to reflect the name change from Shared Shelf to JSTOR Forum.

We invited Lisa Laughy, Web Services/Archives Assistant at St. Paul’s School’s Ohrstrom Library in Concord, New Hampshire to tell us about her experience as the first K-12 subscriber to JSTOR Forum (formerly called Shared Shelf), Artstor’s digital media management system.

When I first started looking at software for cataloging our archives photo collection back in 2010, I remember wishing I could find a solution that was just like Artstor – something that combines both a visually rich user experience with the sophistication of professional metadata standards. It took a few years, but it was as if the folks at Artstor read my mind and made my wish come true, when in the fall of 2015 our school was given the opportunity to be one of the first high schools to implement Shared Shelf.

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April 28, 2016

Artistry on the high seas: Captain Cook’s artists

Sydney Parkinson, Family: Carcharhinidae Genus/Species: Prionace glauca, 1769

Sydney Parkinson, Family: Carcharhinidae Genus/Species: Prionace glauca, 1769. Image and original data provided by Natural History Museum, London.

On his famous three voyages to the South Seas, British explorer Captain James Cook charted the largely unexplored Pacific Ocean, achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and completed the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand. But Cook’s nautical feats are only part of the story; of equal importance are the contributions made by the artists who went along on his journeys, risking their lives–and sometimes losing them–to illustrate the animals and plants they encountered for science and posterity. Here are their stories.

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April 21, 2016

What’s so funny, Democritus?

Johannes Moreelse, Democritus, the Laughing Philosopher, c. 163

Johannes Moreelse, Democritus, the Laughing Philosopher, c. 1630. Image and original data provided by the Mauritshuis, The Hague.

Democritus is primarily remembered for theorizing that all matter consists of particles called atoms, and this stunning quote: “Nothing exists except atoms and space, everything else is opinion.”

The Short History of the Atom wiki summarizes Democritus’ theory nicely:

  1. All matter consists of invisible particles called atoms.
  2. Atoms are indestructible.
  3. Atoms are solid but invisible.
  4. Atoms are homogenous.
  5. Atoms differ in size, shape, mass, position, and arrangement.

Prescient, yes, but it didn’t give much material for artists to work with. Luckily, Democritus was also known as “the laughing philosopher.” As classicist Mary Beard explains in Confronting the Classics,

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April 14, 2016

Enhancing visual acuity in medical education through the arts

By Joseph Costello, Medical Librarian, Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine

Head of Laocoon, c. 100. Foto Reali Archive, National Gallery of Art, Department of Image Collections.

Head of Laocoon, c. 100. Foto Reali Archive, National Gallery of Art, Department of Image Collections.

Prompt: Imagine the human expression of anguish. An amalgamation of stories, artwork, and social interactions blend together and you have your general concept of the human expression: anguish. The concept of anguish is correct to you since it is, after all, your portrayal; the anguish concept is a component in the overall conceptual framework you have constructed to assess emotional expressions. How accurate are you? In other words, how accurate are your visual detection skills of anguish or other emotions, how generalizable?

Accurate interpretation of facial expressions—the aggregate of minute facial movements we make, i.e. micro expressions—is believed to be associated with increased emotional intelligence. Researchers have shown that facial expressions can be generalized and successfully be a part of empathy training. Similarly, modern medicine generalizes the human body to find the distribution of values which in turn help generate a normal range.

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April 11, 2016

A tour of the RISD Museum in 20 objects, part two

To celebrate Artstor’s collaboration with the RISD Museum, our friends at the museum graciously created a lightning-tour of their encyclopedic collection in the Digital Library through twenty notable objects. Part one focuses on decorative and utilitarian artifacts, and part two on artworks.

Unknown artist (Greek); Aphrodite; 2nd century. Image © Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence

Unknown artist (Greek); Aphrodite; 2nd century. Image © Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence

Aphrodite

This bronze figure of Aphrodite, now green from oxidation, once would have been a warm brown. To heighten a sense of naturalism, the eyes and hair ribbon were inlaid with silver and the lips with copper. In the 4th century BCE, the first nude image of Aphrodite was sculpted, breaking a long tradition of depicting Greek goddesses clothed. It was fitting, however, that the goddess of love and beauty was the first to be portrayed in this new way. The motif became so popular that hundreds of such images of Aphrodite survive from ancient Greece and Rome, where they adorned homes, gardens, and sanctuaries. Exceedingly rare today, bronze examples like this one must have been prized possessions of wealthy patrons.

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April 11, 2016

A tour of the RISD Museum in 20 objects, part one

To celebrate Artstor’s collaboration with the RISD Museum, our friends at the museum graciously created a lightning-tour of their encyclopedic collection in the Digital Library through twenty notable objects. Part one focuses on decorative and utilitarian artifacts, and part two on artworks.

Egyptian; Paint box, 1302-1070 BCE. Image © Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence

Egyptian; Paint box, 1302-1070 BCE. Image © Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence

Paint Box

Only a handful of paint boxes survive from ancient Egypt, and this one is particularly unique in being made of ceramic and bearing a sliding lid with a grip whimsically decorated with a genet, an animal related to the mongoose.

The stylized papyrus thickets represent the genet’s habitat of tall grasses and shrubs. Featuring a hollow well for water and brush storage, the box contains seven pigment cakes of yellow ochre, Egyptian blue (a synthetic pigment composed of silica, copper, and calcium), calcium carbonate (white), hematite (dark red), hematite mixed with calcium carbonate (lighter red), and two charcoal blacks. Painters used these same pigments to decorate statuary and the walls of temples and tombs.

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March 29, 2016

Teaching Global Contemporary Art in AP® Art History

Wangechi Mutu, A Little Thought for All Ya'll Who're Thinking of Beating Around the Bush

Wangechi Mutu, A Little Thought for All Ya’ll Who’re Thinking of Beating Around the Bush, 2004. Contact: Alexandra Giniger, Studio Manager, Wangechi Mutu Studio ali@wangechimutu.com

Next week we will offer Teaching Global Contemporary Art in AP® Art History, the second in our series of occasional webinars on works of art and architecture in the AP® Art History curriculum. To help us navigate this topic, we have enlisted art historian Dr. Virginia Spivey as our guest presenter. Dr. Spivey specializes in the art of the late-20th and 21st centuries and the scholarship of teaching and learning in art history (you can read about her many achievements below).

Global Contemporary Art is represented in the curriculum framework by 27 works of art; after polling a group of AP® Art History teachers, Dr. Spivey has settled on the work of five artists: Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Mariko Mori, Wangechi Mutu, Xu Bing, and Bill Viola.

Please join us Monday, April 4th at 7PM EST for a lively discussion on these contemporary artists and the art and ideas that influence them. Register here.

— Dana Howard, Senior K-12 Relationship Manager

– – –

For more than 19 years, Dr. Virginia Spivey has taught in museum and academic settings, where she has received two university teaching awards and multiple nominations. Since 2009, she has worked independently, providing expert content and developing curricular resources for clients including Pearson-Prentice Hall and Smarthistory at the Khan Academy while teaching part time at Georgetown, the George Washington University, and the Maryland Institute College of Art. Dr. Spivey recently revised the chapter on “Art since 1950” as a contributing author to Stokstad’s Art History (forthcoming 2016) and is currently working with the National Gallery of Art to redesign their docent training curriculum in art history. Since 2014, she has been a contributing editor at AHTR, a peer-populated open educational resource and online community for art history instructors, where she served as project leader to create Art History Pedagogy and Practice, an academic e-journal slated to launch in fall 2016.

AP® and Advanced Placement® is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this website.

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March 23, 2016

Case study: Preserving and sharing a school’s rich history

Editor’s note: this post was updated to include current information about Artstor’s platform for public collections.
Nursing Program Students, 1949. Courtesy of Santa Rosa Junior College Archives.

Nursing Program Students, 1949. Courtesy of Santa Rosa Junior College Archives.

At the end of 1917, the Federated Home & School Association of Santa Rosa sent a recommendation to the local Board of Education to form a junior college. The following fall, Santa Rosa Junior College offered its first classes at the Santa Rosa High School. Its student body numbered only 19, with eight educators. It would take another 13 years before the College could boast a faculty of its own.

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