This year, Culture Club is studying recent immigrant and refugee cultures. In preparation for our trip to New York City to see Ai Weiwei’s installation Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, we went to see his documentary Human Flow which is about the international refugee crisis at the Hopkins Center to help frame our examination of his installations of fences in New York City. In New York we started with his installation at the entrance to Central Park on 59th Street that looks like a gigantic golden birdcage. We also visited his installation under the arch in Washington Square Park that looks like a towering silver birdcage with the silhouette of two figures in the center. While on site, we used Visual Thinking Strategies to make observations, express feelings and give reactions to the pieces. Other highlights of the trip included a special curator’s talk at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Near and Middle East department. We had an in-depth discussion of the Assyrian relief panels that are 3,000 years old. Julia Kowalski stated, “One of the highlights of the trip for me was going to the Met and getting to see the art that related to the culture I’m studying. I found that not only could I relate it to Culture Club, but I was also finding connections to other classes I’m taking within those artworks.” Emily Surrell, who is studying Kenyan culture said that the highlight of the trip for her was going to see The Lion King on Broadway. She stated, “It was one of the most beautiful productions I have ever seen, full of color and emotions. Seeing this Broadway musical has always been a dream, and I am so happy that I was given the opportunity that allowed me to fulfill it.” On our last day, we took a tour of the United Nations and had the opportunity to see the General Assembly, the Security Council and learn about humanitarian and sustainability issues that the UN deals with. For Hailey Napier, this was the highlight of the trip. She said, “It’s incredibly interesting to learn about how countries and organizations cooperate to enact positive global change, and it’s important to understand the processes that lead to such impacatful resolutions.” Click on the image to view the entire gallery.
~Susan Piccoli, Culcure Club Faculty Advisor