The William Reese Company Teacher Fellowship
Anne Wenzel, an Arkansas Arts Academy language arts teacher, has been selected as the 2015 Reese Teacher Fellow. Wenzel holds a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College, a master’s degree in science writing from Johns Hopkins University, and a bachelor’s degree in English from Georgetown University.
Wenzel’s research, “A Sense of Wonder: Our Transcendental Inheritance” will explore connections between the Transcendentalists and Crystal Bridges’ modern and contemporary art collections, paying particular attention to how both the literary and visual arts emphasize the roles of the individual and the observer, respectively, in shaping experience. Such research will lead to the development of an interdisciplinary high school curriculum and concomitant website.
Wenzel’s project will begin with select readings in the literary works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman, to uncover their unique way of experiencingthe world—born out of independence, self-reliance, and confidence in one’s own intuition and insight. Having grounded her research in these authors’ foundational texts, she’ll move to an examination of their influence as it is expressed in visual art, focusing especially on the work of artists such as James Turrell (Skyspace: The Way of Color), Dan Flavin (Untitled (To Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Inch)), Josef Albers (Homage to the Square: Joy) and Frederick Eversley (Red Lens), whose work highlights the role of the observer and his/her perception. In the Crystal Bridges Library, Wenzel will pay special attention to the theoretical writings of certain modern to contemporary artists such as Albers and Turrell to help highlight resonances of both intent and interest with the Transcendental ethos. Finally, she’ll draw upon contemporary research in the techniques of cognitive metaphor and conceptual blending to point out how the rich cross-fertilization of such an interdisciplinary approach parallels natural learning processes, uncovered by contemporary cognitive science, and thus could lead to a method that both teacher and student may apply in a wide range of fields.
“I feel deeply honored to have received this fellowship from Crystal Bridges. Teaching at the Arkansas Arts Academy, I’ve seen firsthand the vitality of engagement and meaning-making that comes from an arts-integrated curriculum. Particularly, I feel the most excitement in my students when they become aware of themselves as perceivers, able to look critically at their ways of perceiving. The arts are particularly fruitful for this way of engaging the mind. I look forward to working with the staff and resources at Crystal Bridges to help students explore the role of the arts in evoking what I feel is one of the most quintessential experiences of education: wonder.”
Realms of Fin and Feet and Wing
This resource offers interdisciplinary curriculum materials to integrate early American natural history documents and works of art into World History, American History, British Literature, American Literature, and Biology.
By 2014 William Reese Company Teacher Fellow, Anne Greenwood