February 27, 2006

Sister Wendy's American Collection

Sister Wendy Beckett, the contemplative nun who talks about art for the BBC, did this 6-episode series on American museums. In each museum, she discusses perhaps 15 works, being pretty careful to get a representative sample. Each discussion is maybe 5 minutes or a little less. Because American museums are diverse, each individual discussion is self-contained, a separable unit.

A note especially for teachers: I find Sister Wendy's comments on painting and on other matters she knows about illuminating and helpful, and I have frequently used video of her programs in philosophy teaching. This American series is useful, I think, in a special way: it allows one to introduce a particular work of visual art into a philosophic discussion as an object of reflection and a resource for ideas, attitudes and feelings. Sister Wendy's discussion opens up the work for further discussion, introduces it, helps people pay attention to it. And five minutes of video is a safe amount in a class; one can use that much without worrying about students going passive.

For everybody else: These tapes are pure pleasure, either as introductions to museums one plans to visit or as booby prizes for those without money or leisure to travel.

Posted by shea0017 at February 27, 2006 10:18 AM