By Audrey Carroll Contributing Writer
Recently, Associate Professor of Art History and UMF Gallery Director Sarah Maline brought her Contemporary Art class, her World Film class and guests to the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston, MA. Entrance fees to the museum had been generously paid by a donor for Maine students and accompanying faculty.
Emma Pierce, a sophomore Visual Arts major and Graphic Design minor, felt as though the time flew by. “That museum is so big that you can get lost in it,” said Pierce.
Similarly, Emily Mokler, a senior Creative Writing major, and a guest on the trip was astounded by the vastness of the museum. “You could easily spend a couple of days in there, and still not see everything— it was that big,” said Mokler. “I feel like I saw maybe 10 percent of the place.”
Since the MFA is so large, it occupies artworks of all kinds. This ensures that any attendee is likely to find
an exhibit or a specific piece of artwork that captivates them. For Mokler, this exhibit was that of the Egyptian mummies. “There was this climate controlled room, where they had different mummies from ancient Egypt,” said Mokler, “and they had hieroglyphs from the tombs. . .They structured these rooms so that you could see them laid out, and you could still see the colors— you know, some red and some blue.”
For Pierce, the piece that captivated her was “The Postman” by Vincent Van Gogh. “First of all, Van Gogh is my man,” said Pierce. What struck her about “The Postman” is how one can see the paint coming off of the original canvas. “Because he used a lot of paint… it gives it [the painting] texture, and it also shows where he put the brush— which is surreal,” said Pierce. “It’s almost like you were there with him.”
Pierce’s acknowledgement of the details of the artwork at the MFA, details that one can only witness in person, is exactly why Professor Maline takes this trip with her classes every semester. “The MFA offers us a chance to experience ‘live art,’” said Professor Maline via email, “The opportunity to experience live art— in your own physical presence— is so important. Very different from seeing it onscreen or projected. You see scale, texture and color in a different way.”
Though the trip is always a fun success, Professor Maline often experiences a moment of anxiousness during the outing. “We always have one student lost— either at the MFA at closing time or at Quincy Market after dinner— thank goodness for cell phones,” said Maline, “20 years ago when I first ran this trip we didn’t all have cells, so it was very stressful.”
Upon returning home from the MFA, Professor Maline’s students will complete a critical analysis paper of an artwork that they viewed on the trip. For this assignment, students “describe [an artwork] very closely, analyze it, then compare it to another artwork that is related conceptually— though not necessarily culturally or temporally,” said Maline.
Pierce is writing her analysis essay on a piece from the exhibit “A Gender Bending Fashion Show.” This exhibit displayed geometrically oriented neon lights surrounding outfits created by a variety of designers that “challenge the rigid definitions of dress based on gender,” said Pierce. This piece was designed by Viktor&Rolf for Tilda Swinton— an actress who “has a gender non-conforming style,” said Pierce.
This trip is a fun and educational experience for all, especially for the students in Professor Maline’s classes. “I recommend this trip to the patient and the open-minded,” said Pierce, “I would recommend it if you’re willing to experience art in the most open way— otherwise you won’t be able to enjoy it as much.”
Even for guests, exploring the MFA and Quincy Market was interesting and relevant. The excursion to Boston alone offered a different atmosphere for students to escape to. “This trip is great if you want to experience a change of pace,” said Mokler.
The trip to the MFA is taken once a semester. To attend, a student may either enroll in a class taught by Professor Maline or pay a $30 travel fee at the Student Life office on campus to attend as a guest.