Art in the Classroom Profiles

Alexa Miller stands next to a painting, ‘Floating Bed,’ in the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences and asks nursing, health professions and art students to discuss what they see.

Visual Training for the Health Professional

Course Name: Learning to See: Visual Training for the Health Professional (ART 380)

Related Art Collection/ Exhibition: Artwork in the Cook-DeVos Center For Health Sciences

Developed by Jill Eggers, associate professor of visual and media arts, the course teaches students majoring in health professions how to become better diagnosticians and more empathetic communicators through visual learning using art. This is accomplished through various visual thinking strategies — activities designed to develop students’ background knowledge on a subject through the use of critical thinking skills that focus on detail to enhance understanding. Throughout the inaugural offering of the course during the fall 2018 semester, students participated in guided meditations, examining works of art, drawing exercises, art gallery tours and in-depth group discussions. Read more about this course and its impact on health science students in Grand Valley Magazine. 

Course Instructor: Jill Eggers

Mére Moderne (Modern Mother)
Henri-Gabriel Ibels
Color Stenciled Lithograph, 1895

Modernism and Modernity

Course Name: Modernism and Modernity (HNR 280)

Related Art Collection/ Exhibition: Robert L. Hoskins and Erwin A. Raible Collection of Fin de Siécle French Prints, Gift of Elaine Rutowski Shay

"Every student chose one work of art from the GVSU Art Gallery collection to research for the entire semester. Students visited the AGS [Art Gallery Support Facility] building to work with their object in preparation for a formal analysis. [Art] Gallery staff were extraordinarily helpful in fielding questions and helping to formulate research ideas. Students conducted original research and presented their results during the last several weeks of class. They gained deep and broad knowledge of this work of art, which enriched their understanding of Modernism at the same time that they became more cognizant of the university collection."

Course Instructor: Dr. Ellen Adams

"Farmers with Horse Cart"
Mathias J. Alten
Oil on Canvas, 1914

City and Society

Course Name: City and Society (HNR 280)

Related Art Collection/ Exhibition: Mathias J. Alten: An American Impressionist

"Class visit to the George and Barbara Gordon Gallery to view the Alten collection. In this freshman course, most students have had little exposure to systematic study of art. We visited the Gordon Gallery as one of several activities designed to introduce students both to general skills in the study of art and also to the history of representation of place in art. Because the Gordon Gallery is on one of our GV campuses, but less familiar to students based primarily in Allendale -- and because the Alten images are relatively accessible for students working at an introductory level -- this part of the university collections was a great place to start our discussion of representation of place."

Course Instructor: Dr. Melissa Morison

"Day Dreaming"
Tim Fisher
Oil on Board, 2007

Issues in Classical Archaeology

Course Name: Issues in Classical Archaeology (CLA 350)

Related Art Collection/ Exhibition: Tim Fisher painting collection

"I teach CLA 350 (Issues in Classical Archaeology) in every odd-numbered Fall semester. Each time the class is taught, I build in an assignment using art from the university collection. For example, one year our focus was on Archaeology of Cuisine. Tim Fisher had a show in the gallery that semester & many of his pieces were about kitchens and cooking -- so we spent one class period in the gallery with Tim, discussing his work. There were many interesting connections to be made between the work of archaeologists studying cuisine, and the kinds of ideas Tim was working with in his paintings. The students responded very enthusiastically to this discussion, realizing that there are many interdisciplinary paths to consideration of similar intellectual issues and problems. "

Course Instructor: Dr. Melissa Morison

Cyril Lixenberg
Painted Steel, 2002

Museum Studies

Course Name: Museum Studies (CLA 380/HST 380)

Related Art Collection/ Exhibition: GVSU Online Art Collection

"I have taught an introduction to Museum Studies several times, most recently in Fall 2012 and Fall 2014. This course is primarily concerned with the social role of museums and the many ways that museums and related institutions engage in discourse with the public. Each time I teach the course, I build in assignments that use the university collections.

For instance, students visit the university gallery on multiple occasions, both in the context of a class visit early in the semester (when we work together as a group to discuss issues of exhibition design and implementation, as part of a series of such discussions both at GVSU and at PMGR, Ford, GRAM) and on their own (they visit on their own time to develop a constructive critique of an on-campus exhibition, a 3-5 page essay).

Students then work in teams to develop a detailed pitch for a hypothetical exhibition in the university gallery (on theme of their own choosing), evaluated based on AAM standards of excellence. Students learn to respect, value, and work creatively within the affordances and constraints of a specific space, and with a specific audience in mind.

In a separate exercise, students work in teams to "mine" the collections database for artworks that might function in a small exhibit context to communicate a specific set of ideas effectively to a broad audience. They then compare ease of use/effectiveness of this database with other publicly available institutional databases, such as those of the GR Historical Commission and the PMGR."

Course Instructor: Dr. Melissa Morison

Share Your Project

Are you using the art collection or exhibitions in your curriculum? Share your project with us and we'll feature it here!

Page last modified September 21, 2021