3.29.2014

A morning with Tom Otterness.

Every year I get to take my second graders on research adventures all over New York. It is one of my favorite parts of teaching where I do. We explore urban parks, wander through the Transit Museum, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and travel up the Hudson to research suburban areas. But one of my favorite trips every year is visiting Tom Otterness at his studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

During our transportation study we learn about public art in New York City, specifically focusing on the art in our subway stations. The kids learn about mosaics and how they are used throughout our transportation system. Our class visits the glass, stone, and marble mosaic Under Bryant Park, one of the largest artworks in the MTA. We also take a trip to the 14th Street/8th Avenue subway station to explore Life Underground, an installation created by Tom Otterness. The kids love searching for Tom's playful sculptures around the station and are fascinating by the themes in his pieces. Our visit to his studio is even more meaningful after studying and seeing his sculptures.

This year my kids were in awe as they stepped through the studio doors and incredibly engaged throughout our visit. They spent almost an hour walking through the space sketching and jotting down questions to ask Tom Otterness. We got to talk to Tom about his artistic process, the inspiration behind his sculptures, and why he often incorporates money into his pieces. He also showed us his very first sculpture, a lion he made when he was in third grade, and worked on a new piece right before our eyes. It was an amazing morning!
Tom's first sculpture, a lion he created in third grade. 

8 comments :

  1. Lucky students! I wish my field trips as a child were like that! Every year in elementary school we had to take a trip to the omni theater in Ft.Worth. Haha! But seriously, what an experience. I would love to do this even as an adult. ;)
    Such a great way to inspire your students and showing them a different way to look at their city, too.

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    1. Hey Liz! I know, when I was younger we had a few field trips a year, usually unrelated to our curriculum (e.g. trip to the roller rink and Minnesota Zoo). One of the reasons I love teaching in NYC is how accessible everything is to my students. We are able to walk or take the subway on almost all of our trips. We study urban parks, transportation, and the Brooklyn Bridge, so there are a ton of meaningful trips we get to take. It is a blast!

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  2. Wow! This is amazing! So glad I stumbled into your space...visiting from Simple Things. I'm a Bostonian who loves her city...can't wait to follow you on your adventures in NYC!!

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    1. Hey Adrienne! Thanks so much for stopping by and following along! I love Boston (my boyfriend Brian is from there) and can't wait to visit again soon!

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  3. oh how cool! What a great experience to share with your students. I'd imagine they love their trips out and about.

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    1. Hey Courtney! The kids loved the studio visit so much this year. It was wonderful to see them so excited and curious about Tom's art! I can't wait to start taking them to the Brooklyn Bridge soon, which is what we are studying now. Spring is always my favorite time if year teaching second grade. We have some great trips lined up!

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  4. What a fun field trip for your kids! The studio looks really interesting and hearing from the artist himself sounds great.

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    1. We had a blast! Thanks for commenting Melissa!

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