Final Thoughts

Interview with President Kiss

I was very disappointed that I was unable to interview President Kiss about Showing Thinking.  Not only would I learned about her process, but I would have learned more about her role on campus and how much she means to faculty, students, and alumni.  The questions I selected for her below offered the importance of leadership and how it transforms overtime along with being a mediator for others.  My questions can be used for future use.  I still believe this interview should happen.

  1. How do you balance between being a diplomat and moving forward with today’s world?
  2. How do you negotiate with current and former students’ needs?
  3. How does the legacy of former presidents shape your process?
  4. How has your pedagogy towards teaching changed?  How has your leadership role influenced your teaching as president?
  5. Tell me about your Journey’s Trip to Hungary.  What did it mean for you to return to your family’s country?
  6. What do you remember from Showing Thinking?

Installing the Student Show

The area that I was assigned to was the same area I used for Showing Thinking.  Because this was a very informal show, the class was able to eyeball the center and the space between pictures.  However, I wanted to have some exact measurements so I did use a ruler to install.  The most difficult piece to hang was a space comic self-portrait where the paper was cut into sections.  How I approached the portrait was to see it as one gigantic painting and hang it in increments.

When it came to setting up the space, I wanted each portrait to have a dialogue with one another.  On one wall I placed two portraits sitting on chairs at the end of the row where both appeared to be looking at each other.  On another wall I placed a group where each subject in the portrait were sitting down.  This strategy would allow the viewer to see the commonalities in each portrait.

What I learned

This class taught me how to think about perspective and design.  The Showing Thinking Project, especially for installing, I learned that how I portray Mary Cain could affect how people learn about her.  When it came to installing the vinyl lettering, I had to learn about precision, because for one of her quotes the line went a little askew, but that was because I rushed without thinking about what I was doing.  In addition, this class also helped me with organizing.  Because I was project manager, it was important for me to make sure everyone was on task with their assignments and we were able to have a show by the deadline.  I was able to accomplish this role by making a calendar for the class with deadlines for each major project such as the catalog and the opening day.    Finally,  I learned about writing creatively.  The introduction for the catalog, made me approach my writing in a nonacademic way, which I found to be exciting.  I enjoyed creating something that was relatable, but still had analysis.  I even received a compliment from several professors about my introduction statement.   I  want to explore this form of writing more in the future.

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Spelman College Fieldtrip

This week our exhibition class attended Spelman College to visit their current Mickalene Thomas Exhibition and learn about curating from Curator of Education Makeba Dixon Hill.  The exhibition was a collection of mixed media that wanted the viewer to reconsider the role of the black experience, especially with women. In our brief tour Makeba Dixon Hill explains the layout.  Mickalene Thomas wanted to emulate a living room where there is usually a television and a resting place that brings family together.  The layout involved several sitting areas in front of a compilation of video clips of black entertainers such as Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, etc.  My favorite piece from the show was a short animation where Mickalene Thomas portrays a career oriented black woman that discovers she is pregnant.  I enjoyed this piece because it discussed the idea of single motherhood that many black women experienced.

After our brief tour, we were able to ask Makeba Dixon Hill questions about her job as a curator.  The questions I planned to ask her were:

  1. How does she collaborate with artists that may contradict with her vision?
  2. How does the Spelman Art Department engage with other disciplines?

The question I asked her was the first question because during Showing Thinking while I worked with Mary Cain, she was reluctant to placing some of her favorite books in the show.  Her response to my question was to think about what was best for the show because I have expertise that the artist does not have and vice versa.  However, Mary Cain was not an artist which made our collaboration more difficult.  Overall, I thought the Spelman trip was great and it made me want to look into curation more.

Showing Thinking Conversation

This week was the debut for Showing Thinking where all the participants came to have a conversation about their experience with the show.  For the conversation the questions I wrote were:

  1. How do you transfer knowledge to your students in order to ensure they are learning the material?
  2. How do you work with students that have a different experience from you?  Do you take into consideration their background while collaborating?
  3. How do you make your work relevant each year?

Unfortunately I could not ask all my questions, but the question I asked for the conversation was question 1.  The reason I asked this question because I wanted to hear their approach to teaching students.  They are professors that received a degree not only in their discipline, but also in education.  When I asked the question, I enjoyed Nicole Stamant’s response the most.  She emphasized that in her curriculum, she structures her readings that connect with each other and forces the students to learn and develop as they go.  In addition María Korol emphasized how with her students she watches their art develop and gives them references to other artists that have a similar style.

While I was listening to the conversation take place, I noticed how all the professors feed off of each other’s ideas when explaining their process.  At one point in the conversation, there was a question about failure and several people saw failure as unfinished.  In other words, the professors never felt truly satisfied with a published work that had to meet a certain due date.  I also found myself relating to this idea of failure as well because when I turn in papers I feel like they are unfinished.  The only reason I did turn assignments was to receive credit for my work.  However from the professors, I learned that I can always return.

Overall this was my favorite event because I enjoyed seeing these people see commonalities and differences in their field.

Mary Cain’s Section and Installing for Showing Thinking

This exhibition blog post will be divided into two parts: brainstorming and installing Mary Cain’s section for Showing Thinking

Brainstorming for Showing Thinking

When it came to design the layout for Mary Cain’s space, I had a clear idea for the small room, but not the wall in the other room.  In the small room, I knew I wanted it to be in her office space to showcase her as a faculty member in the humanities department where students and professors could visit her.  The office space would contain evident artifacts, such as a desk and pencil holder, but the features that would make Mary Cain’s office space unique would be her posters.  One poster I choose for the space was the Women’s Declaration of Independence because it visually presented her interest in women’s history and her role as a female historian.  The second picture I choose was a painting of John Brown because of her role as a white professor engaging with topics of racial identity.  The books I selected for her desk also followed these principles in her academic research.

The second wall in the other room however was more challenging.  My initial concept was to showcase her personal life and her approach to historiographical thinking.  The image below is a blueprint for my assigned wall.

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As you can see, I wanted the family artifacts that in her office to have a section of their own.  Because Mary Cain does not explicitly talk about her family’s history in her personal statement, women such as her mother and her great-grandmother played and important role for her education.  Her great-grandmother’s high school diploma and her mother’s women college banner represents the achievement of women in education.  I believe that Mary cain’s job as a professor at Agnes Scott College continues their legacy as educated women.

The piece that I wanted to be central was the history circle I learned in Historical Thinking with Dr. Wu.  The reason I wanted to use this circle because it represents how historians interact with historical text.  While they are reading a text they have to be aware of the social/cultural context of the author and the time they live in because context will shape the analysis.  Overall, the circle is a clear understanding of process.

Installing Showing Thinking

When it was time for installing I learned that I had to be flexible with my concepts.  I learned that I had to be flexible with my concepts.  I learned that the circle concept that I was so adamant about was neither a concept Mary Cain was familiar with nor was it used in every Historical Thinking class.  The image that was used instead was Mary Cain’s three legged stool, which was her approach to making a great historical question for research.  The three legged stool comprises of a topic that is rested on primary sources, secondary sources,  and probing question as legs.  This image turned out to be useful because it displayed Mary Cain’s process in doing historical research.

Changes that also took place was the use of space.  At first, I didn’t have enough images to make the second room full.  In order to solve that problem, I decided to place classroom desks around the chalkboard paint to emulate a classroom setting.  This decision was effective because it created a sculptural element to the space.  In addition, it showcased Mary Cain’s role as an educator at a women’s college.  Overall, the installing process taught me to never be strict in my ideas and always find room for adjustment.

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Writing the Introduction

In Exhibition Process this week, I worked on writing the introduction for the Showing Thinking Catalog.  Before I wrote the introduction, I decided to read each personal statement again to find universal concepts that could represent each participant.  Based off my notes, I concluded that each participant was a collector of information.  Before there is a published work for the intended audience, the participants did research on their intended subject matter but made a connection to their own personal experience.  The combination between professional and personal experience shaped their identity as a person, which I found fascinating.

When I wrote my introduction I wanted the reader to also make a connection back to their personal lives if they were in academia or not.  In order to articulate that idea, I opened my introduction with “Everyone is a collector” and related that statement with social media and  family recipes, which creates memory and nostalgia.  In the second paragraph, I reference from my notes about the parallels between each Showing Thinking participant.  I argue that “our scholars at Showing Thinking attest that preservation is continuous and a process to self discovery”.

In the final paragraph, I decided to include basic information about Showing Thinking and how this is the first time the participants collaborated with students in our class.  The reason why I chose this structure is because in my Nonfiction writing course with Dr. Cozzens, she taught us the inverted triangle technique used in mainly news stories.  While the most important argument is the lead for the leaders, additional information is placed at the bottom.  Overall, I felt that my introduction was creative and original for the catalog, but I am unsure how my concepts will work with Kathryn.

Brainstorming the Round Wall

For exhibition process this week, each of us had to brainstorm for the round wall in the Showing Thinking Exhibition.  Our class decided to place quotes on the round wall from each personal statement to connect all the participants in the Agnes Scott Community.  The words I selected for the wall to showcase Mary Cain was

  1. context
  2. portals
  3. we dig, we search, and we trace patterns
  4. center human beings within the setting we study identity
  5. multiracial society
  6. whiteness
  7. unearned privilege

My approach for the wall focused on using different fonts for each person.  I was interested in the idea of handwritings because Nicole Stamant had a handwriting similar to the homemade apple font, which is cursive.  In addition Mary Cain’s handwriting was similar to Corvisa, which is italicized print.  Because these professors were writers, I wanted to portray their quotes as if they wrote on the walls themselves.  However, during the critique many of my classmates felt that the cursive would not be legible for the audience.  They liked my concept in theory, but not in reality.  The group ended up selecting Pippa’s wall concept because the structure of columns was appealing and the use of different colors looked great on our neutral wall.

First Meeting with Professor Cain

Exhibition Process this week focused on collaborating with our assigned professor.  I received Professor Mary Cain, Department of History, whom I taken several courses with being a history major.  I felt that understanding the practices of history will allow me to visualize my space for the exhibition along with already having a relationship with Professor Cain.

The first part to this week was to read Professor Cain’s personal statement.  While reading her statement, I enjoyed her explanation of the importance of history.  She notes how context can explain both the past and present along with individuals or a collective group of people.  In addition, I enjoyed her role as a historian in relation to her subject matter when it comes to race and gender.  However, elements that Professor Cain excluded was her personal experience, which Professor Whittle and I learned more about in our meeting with her.

The second part to this week was meeting with our professor to discuss their personal statement.  During my meeting with Professor Cain, I brought up some of my initial thoughts about her personal statement (mentioned in the previous paragraph).  Throughout this meeting Professor Cain expressed some concerns about her writing approach.  She was unfamiliar with this writing style this exhibition demands which caused her to leave out some areas.  After Professor Whittle offered her previous catalogs, it gave her a general idea.  However, we did not want her to deviate from her rough draft entirely because part of her approach to the personal statement is part of her overall process.  In addition, during the meeting I observed her office space to find potential objects for the exhibition.

Professor Cain’s office contained several artifacts from the women in her family.  These possessions included her Great Grandmother’s high school diploma and class picture along with her mother’s college banner.  These objects are perfect for the exhibition because they  visually display why Professor Cain is interested in women’s history and the subject in general.  Another theme I want to incorporate in her gallery space is her writing process.  During the meeting Professor Cain mentioned that she wrote 8 drafts for the personal statement and that she always uses a legal pad.  In her gallery space I would love to have a podium or table covered with these writing drafts and notes.