I'm probably one of the least artistic people you'll meet at the museum, since the closest thing to art that I create on a regular basis is a beautifully crafted spreadsheet (all those neat and orderly boxes!) In school, when I was studying history, I spent most of my time researching and writing papers. One of my favorite exercises was to take cue cards with bullet points and arrange them on the floor of my office in the shape of my arguments (not surprisingly, this resembled a paper version of a spreadsheet). Despite my desire to hand in a photo of my cue card arrangement and call it a day, I was ultimately restricted to writing traditional essays.
Recently at the museum we've had a few programs that spoke to the idea of using art as a way of interpreting history that have inspired me to be more creative. Bev Tosh, for example, in her presentation War Bride as Muse during the Historic Lethbridge Festival talked about the creation of her innovative exhibit One Way Passage. This exhibit is a cross-disciplinary creative interpretation of the history of war brides. War brides are wives of military personnel who married during the WWII era and then immigrated to the homeland of their husband. Her work includes many techniques including paint on wooden planks, projections, and other mediums combined with objects and sound.
Meanwhile in our senior's program we did watercolour pictures. My intent was to have people use archival photos as inspiration. I thought that the group would choose an archival postcard like this because of the colour:
But of course I was totally wrong and this was the image the people wanted to use as their inspiration:
Although I didn't do any painting during the program I was inspired to think about how I can personally interpret history through art. I don't have an answer to that question yet, but I did find a more artistic form of inspiration for my program planning process after reading an article about collages as a pre-writing process. The idea behind the collage as a pre-writing process is that as you collect and assemble your pictures, objects, and ephemera into a collage you see themes and details emerge that provide shape to your plan and ultimately to the finished product. This is not that far a stretch from my days of cue cards and bullet points organised into neat rows so I decided to do an electronic collage of images for my fall 2010 family programs:
Maybe by the time we offer the watercolour painting program again on September 17th during Art Walk I'll be ready to move from inspiration to interpretation.