Final Tours & Good-Byes!


May 23rd was a celebratory day for the seven recent graduates of the museum’s Teen Docent Program. Our last session together marked the culmination of the students’ commitment, over several months, to learning about traditional folk art and the individual expressions of contemporary self-taught artists.

Students were joined by teens from the Rubin Museum of Art, impressed family members, museum staff, teachers and peers from participating schools—Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School and Talent Unlimited High School. Audience members (most of whom were visiting for the first time) contributed heartily to gallery discussions and had a wonderful time touring the museum with practiced Teen Docents at the helm!

After working collaboratively on establishing tour themes, crafting engaging questions, and overall tour design, Teen Docents led tours centered on the following topics: Notions of Femininity; Race, Self-Presentation, and Social Mobility; and Imagination and Creativity.

Delilah's group, whose theme is "Notions of Femininity," presents their first object in the galleries

Delilah’s group, whose theme is “Notions of Femininity,” presents their first object in the galleries

We will miss our weekly sessions with this insightful group of folk art enthusiasts, but we are looking forward to welcoming back a few Teen Docent Program graduates during July and August; they will be working with the museum’s younger summer campers.

A big thank-you to Hilary Symes, who assisted with this program. Hilary has finished up her education internship here at the American Folk Art Museum and has just begun a summer internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Good luck, Hilary!

Finally—many thanks to each and every one of the students who made the Spring 2013 semester so wonderful.

Program graduates strike a pose against the title wall.

Program graduates strike a pose against the title wall.

Class #11: Research, Practice and Preparation

The second-to-last class of the Teen Docent Program snuck up on everybody! It seemed like only a couple of weeks ago that the students were first starting to learn about folk art and suddenly, they’re leading their own tours!

The Teen Docents spent the class working in their partnerships to finalize their tour themes and the objects they will lead conversations around with their visitors on May 23rd. As they tweaked initial ideas, their plans became stronger and stronger. They studied articles, books, and other research materials, as well as the artworks themselves, to bolster their knowledge of the artists they’ll discuss: William Matthew Prior, Paul D. Humphrey, Inez Nathaniel Walker, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Nellie Mae Rowe, and Edward Hicks. They practiced hard when it came to pronouncing “Bruenchenhein!”

Going into their final week of practicing, the students’ emotions range from confidence to excitement to nervousness—often all at once. Their commitment to the program and passion about their ideas really shows.