Days of Bonding at the Boston MFA.

CHINA: Han Dynasty, Tomb Gate, 1st c. CE

I spent two days taking my students through the Boston MFA earlier this month. We started with Ancient China and then worked our way through Egypt, the Ancient Near East, Greece, Rome, and the Islamic world. We spent about an hour in the Ancient Chinese galleries talking about funerary art ranging from the Bronze Age through the apex of Confucianism and the entry of Buddhism from India.  

Some of the students seemed a little distracted (and maybe I was too), because The Clock was playing in a theater right next to where we were gathered. Waiting politely until our discussion was complete, someone yelped out, "can we please see what this clock thing is?" and since I am borderline obsessed with it myself, we went in. They couldn't tell that I was nearly bursting with happiness at the chance to share it with them.

And of course, this is what comes up during our five minutes in there. Billy Bob Thornton colorfully lamenting the official onslaught of Christmas in Bad Santa. 

Bad Santa

Really, can you blame him? Ok, I should say, I love both this guy and this movie. Watching Bad Santa used to be one of our annual Christmas traditions.
Ah, well. It made for a nice contrast to the silent and ancient art that we spent the day looking at.

This trip marked a shift in the classroom community (for one thing, getting them out of the dark classroom worked wonders). As we looked at so many of the objects and cultures we'd been getting to know back at Colby-Sawyer, I could see my students getting excited. They knew something about these things and it was so much fun having spontaneous conversations about the things we recognized. I loved those two days (I was a little worried that the second day wouldn't compare to the first, but it totally did) and I'm glad that I didn't give up when it seemed like I wasn't going to be able to make the trip happen. Seeing these things together enhanced our connection, the class as a whole and me, their animator of information. What a gratifying experience to hear the student's exclamations when they spotted something, sometimes they would see something before me and would run around asking where I was so that they could proudly point it out.

Some highlights:

CHINA: Guanyin, Bodhisattva of Compassion, Sui Dynasty,  580 CE
ANCIENT EGYPT: Menkaure, 2490 BCE
ANCIENT EGYPT: Akhenaten, 1349 BCE
EGYPT: Fayum (Greco-Roman period), Egpyt, 1st c. CE
Encaustic wax portrait on sarcophagus
ANCIENT NEAR EAST: Assyrian Winged Deity featuring Cuneiform: the oldest text!
ETRUSCAN: Sarcophagi, c. 350 BCE
I can't wait to do it again next semester!

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