Connected \\ November 6, 2019
Feeding a creative impulse
Being able to teach in the gallery is incredibly meaningful to the students and to me,” Gordon said of the visit. “To be able to use PEM as a resource is really beneficial for students. It helps them think and experience art in multiple senses.
Leading her students into the exhibition, Gordon talked about Hans Hofmann — a German-born artist and teacher who immersed himself in the avant-garde scene in Paris with the likes of Picasso and Henri Matisse before migrating to the U.S. and beginning his trajectory into abstract expressionism. Widely known as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Hofmann is equally celebrated for his skills as a teacher, having taught countless numbers of students at his art school in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
A group of students pause at Hans Hofmann's painting The Garden and listen as their professor reads a quote of his on the wall: "Nature speaks to us in space, color and light."
The curious group gathered closely in front of The Garden, the first painting on view, and saw the bold saturation of colors and thick splotches of paint. “Nature was his constant source of inspiration and the window through which he created, always,” Gordon said. She then gestured to a set of shingled barn doors, a nod to Hofmann’s art studio in Provincetown, while a soundscape of ocean waves and chirping seagulls plays softly in the background.
Hofmann’s teachings and principles are woven into the curriculum at Montserrat College of Art, which also has deep connections to the famed artist. Paul M. Scott, one of the college’s founding faculty members, was Hofmann’s studio assistant and student, along with several other founding leaders who studied with the artist. “Montserrat College has that wonderful tie,” added Gordon. “Hofmann’s legacy is wide, varied and very deep.”
Motioning toward the colors and noting the strong parallels to nature in Hofmann's In the Wake of the Hurricane, PEM Associate Curator Lydia Gordon speaks to her students.
Walking through the bright red passageway inside the exhibition, students then entered into the artist’s abstract world of bold colors. Their professor invited them to step further into the “color room,” an immersive rotating-light experience inspired by Hofmann’s theory that color has the power to evoke certain moods. Transitioning from bright yellow into violet and green to shades in between, students sat transfixed on bean bag chairs, taking notes and sketching.
With notebooks in their hands, the students comfortably situated themselves inside the captivating “color room,” taking in the silence and letting the colors awash them.
Wearing neon pink and green-dangling earrings, student Carter Fluckiger stepped out from the room and spoke of those two colors the most. “I loved it. It was my favorite thing,” said the college sophomore. Fluckiger, who wears eyeglasses, said some of the colors bouncing off the walls almost mimicked the feeling of wearing 3-D glasses.
Montserrat sophomore Carter Fluckiger talks with a classmate in the gallery.