Alchemy of Art

Sep 11, 2012 - Jan 6, 2013

The Columbia Museum of Art embraces a model of education that incorporates art in the classroom and inspires the communication and creativity needed in an ever-changing world. Through a $30,000 fellowship grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in New York, Alchemy of Art was created. This exhibition takes students and educators through the development of science, technology and art over 400 years, from the 1400s through the 1800s. With the Kress Collection of Renaissance paintings at the core of the Museum's collection, the fellowship provided a close study of these works, ultimately resulting in a new interpretive view for visitors that includes how the works were created.

Through this exhibition, students learn the chemistry of creating tempura paint - made by mixing egg yolk and pigment, to produce a new substance. Using traditional artists' recipes and techniques, students explore a variety of historical paint media dating from the Renaissance to Impressionism to create art.

"Alchemy of Art is enhancing traditional teaching methods to create a learning experience centered around the new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) movement," Kerry Kuhlkin-Hornsby, director of education, said. "STEAM recognizes the importance of connecting science with arts education, and for students, this connection is critical for achievement and innovation in the 21st century."

University of South Carolina students created historically inspired work that concentrated on age-old traditions, such as making their own paints, gesso and glue. Children, ages 8 - 12, learned the same processes and techniques to create their own paint studies, frescos and encaustics during a summer camp. The science-infused work by these students is on view in the Education Gallery, along with fun interactive games for families through January 6, 2013.

The Alchemy of Art public tour for adults, led by trained docents, clearly exposes the science behind the art focusing on context, style, composition, materials and processes.

Location: On view in the Interactive Education Gallery