At the heart of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s mission is educating the public in the visual arts and culture of the American South. Since its inception in 2001, the Education Department has organized artist-in-residence programs that pair artists with local schools. Working with elementary school children in the medium of the artist’s choice, the artist spends three weeks with students exploring the influence of geography and sense of place. Upon completion of the residency, students visit the Museum to view their finished work of art. Most recently, artist Shawn Hall worked with 200 of Bonella A. St. Ville Elementary School’s second, third and fourth graders to create an installation inspired by the artist’s research in North America’s native bee species (of which there are over 4,000 species – and do NOT include honey bees!). Students learned about bees’ vital role as pollinators of Southern agricultural plants and native flowers.
The students also explored the types of skills that artists and scientists share. Using the power of observation, students acted as researchers to render native bees in pencil. Concentrating on anatomy, students painted bees freehand in watercolor. In their final pieces, students honed their skills by painting their impressions of native bees within their natural habitats.
Shawn Hall is a New Orleans-based multidisciplinary artist working with painting, video and performance art. Hall views her work “from the premise that everything is an event in nature.” Her projects are characterized by this intuitive and active participation in the biological world. Hall’s work is held in the Museum’s Permanent Collection.