On September 19th, Canisius art teacher Ms. Catherine Pitek lead a field trip of students from several of her classes to the Albright Knox Art Gallery. Here, they learned about the works of the late sculptor Robert Indiana. Perhaps most well known for his LOVE sculptures (see picture below), Indiana rose to prominence in the 1960s and always tackled the question of the human condition. He reduced this experience to five words: hug, eat, err, die, and love; words which were commonly displayed across all of his work. Similarly, Indiana also used numbers, believing that they helped explain the progression and stages of a human life; 1, for example, stood for birth while 0 represented death.
Why a field trip? Pitek believes that students need activity in their education. For her, the tactile nature of field trips and other out-of-school activities help supplement and reinforce classroom instruction. They give concrete examples which leave an impression on the student, helping them learn. Therefore, by bringing the students to the Art Gallery, Pitek hopes to expose them to new ideas about art, themselves, and their place in the world.
Indeed, there does seem to be some truth in these beliefs. In an in-class discussion after the field trip, students talked about how many had never seen an art exhibit, and that the field trip helped “take the fear out of the experience.” They found the trip “fun” and loved the ability to “explore and [see] new things. To get out of the school environment and have new experiences.” Others, more specifically to the works of Indiana, were fascinated with the idea of using “numbers as a simile of life and death.” For them, this experience certainly helped widen their understanding of the subject.
This is yet another example of how we work for “cura personalis,” or care for the whole person. We not only promote excellence on the field or in the classroom, but we strive to introduce our students to new experiences, and push their conceptions of the self and other further and further. This not only cultivates a man that stands for and with others, but good citizenry who remain engaged and interested in the social and cultural around them, cognizant of their role within it.