A Very Impressionistic Summer

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Although it seems Jean-Louis Forain: La Comédie parisienne has just opened, all departments have been buzzing with the F word for the past few months. In fact, before the grand Gala and opening night celebrations Forain had already made his debut in the summer camps, libraries and schools of Memphis. 
How you ask? Through Art to Grow! Art to Grow is the Dixon’s outreach program that brings the Dixon to learning spaces within a 60 mile radius of the museum, providing art lessons to students in the area.
I have only recently joined the Dixon and the Forain Summer Program has been my first solo challenge. A simple but fun craft: pastel self portraits seemed the obvious choice from looking at the array of beautiful portraiture in the Forain collection.
It has been a delight teaching the children about this well known impressionist. We have been exploring the sights of Paris, listening to French music, learning a little of the language along the way and even eaten the occasional croissant… What else has been a delight has been listening to librarians, camp staff and teachers squeal when they hear that Art to Grow is COMPLETELY FREE!!  Yes, we are very fortunate to be able to provide this service to our community. For that we thank our generous sponsors!
Forain is not an obvious choice for the younger crowd but his work has successfully sparked conversations about color, media, style and most importantly an opportunity for children to offer their insights and very truthful opinions. Children ‘oooh’ and ‘aahh’ at portrait d’homme- a stand out favorite among the elementary set, many convinced that it is President Lincoln!  
Jean-Louis Forain(French 1852 – 1931) <!–[if !mso]> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } <![endif]–>

Portrait d’homme, ca. 1880-1883 
Oil on cardboard
22.24 x 14.45 inches
Private Collection, Belgium

<!–[if !mso]> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } <![endif]–>As a newcomer to the Dixon I have been overwhelmed by the help and support offered by my colleagues; whether it be a lesson idea, technical support or just help finding an obscure item, someone has always been on hand and happy to oblige answer even some of the most unusual of questions.

I would also like to mention the AMAZING job done by the Dixon’s interns and volunteers this summer. Allison Hopper, Alice Valdes and Bennett LeMasters have all joined me on the Art to Grow van to help out. They have each brought their unique qualities to the program and have not been afraid to get stuck in and pretty messy!

Art to Grow will be off the road for the month of August and will be undergoing a serious makeover! I am getting very excited about the brand new curriculum and in particular designing some very special sessions on the work of Brain Selznick. ‘From Hugo to Houdini: the Art of Brian Selznick’ will be opening October 23rd. This seems a way off right now but as a very wise Dixon employee said preparation is key!

Bryony Petch, Art to Grow Outreach Instructor