Dropping off my children at school one day I noticed a shipping container in the parking lot and painted on the side read, “Dalí on the Fly” with a small rendering of a young Salvador Dalí clad in a blue sailor suit holding a hoop.
I said to William and Madeline, “Wow look at that guys, you have a mobile Dalí art exhibition right here at your school. You are both so lucky! Please tell me all about it after you’ve gone inside.”
After school, William reminisced about melting clocks and the large fly sculptures stuck to the walls while Madeline mentioned how the paintings were like puzzles and she enjoyed a game where they were given magnets and had to find the objects in the paintings like a scavenger hunt.
Curiosity clawed at me and I asked the art teacher, Ms Ross, if I could be a fly on the wall in one of her classes. She said yes and I was invited to join Mrs. Satchfield’s 3rd Grade class on their field trip.
We met in the art class where Ms Ross gave a brief slide presentation introducing Salvador Dalí, an explanation of the term surrealism, and a glimpse into some of the art concepts they would come across once inside the art mobile such as double imagery.
Ms Ross asked the students how many of them had visited the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg and about 18% of the class raised their hands.
Once everyone was ready we lined up, walked a few paces along the corridors, strolled across the wooden floors of the auditorium before going up the ramp into the mobile Dalí exhibition space.
Upon entering the exhibit students quickly browsed the reproductions of Dalí paintings on the walls before gathering around on the floor to watch a video. Dali on the Fly: Surreal Educational Documentary about Salvador Dalí is narrated by a cartoon fly and his granddaughter as they delve into the surrealist paintings housed in the Dalí Museum and explain terms such as dislocation, transformation and juxtaposition.
The video ends with the very important statement and prompt – “Dreams, Science and Math inspired Dali. What Inspires You and Your Art?”
Ms Ross quizzed the students on what they learned from the video and then the class observed in more detail each of the printed art reproductions where Ms Ross shed light on hidden meaning and intricate details.
The students had a lot of questions of their own and there was a lot to unpack in one art session.
Remember the Arts Axis podcast There’s No ‘I’ in Art where Palm Harbor Library Director Gene Coppola explains the importance of art in life in creating a well-rounded community? Well I had this in the back of my mind when taking this trip.
I also remembered important questions brought up at the “WE Convene: Together for the Future of the Arts” Public Town Hall Meeting hosted last fall by Creative Pinellas and the Pinellas Community Foundation, where someone asked how do we get the broader community to gain cultural consumers and how do we elevate the culture being consumed?
The answer was through awareness and going through the process of defining what culture entails as a community. More importantly, who are the future cultural consumers?
It’s our children.
I was thrilled to see a clear example of a museum partnering with Pinellas public schools in bringing the Dalí experience to those who may not have access and investing in our future cultural consumers.
We are so fortunate to live in Pinellas County where the political leaders and voters understand the importance of art and culture as economic powerhouses.
Before leaving I asked the kids, “Who here loves Dalí?” and everyone raised their hands.
“And who here wants to visit the Dalí museum in St. Pete?” is where I got an emphatic “Me!” Me!” “Me!” “I do!” “I do!”
Thank you Ms Ross for letting me be a fly on the wall and I applaud you for engaging students and shaping our future.
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More Dalí Educational programs
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The Dalí on the “Fly” Art Mobile
- is a mobile classroom that draws connections between visual artist Salvador Dalí and the worlds of math, science and dreams, from which he drew inspiration for his art.
- will visit all 88 Pinellas County elementary schools and exceptional student centers over a four-year period.
- will be seen by over 45,000 students, kindergarten through 5th grade.
- is a collaborative project of the Pinellas County School Board and The Dalí Museum.
Originally published in the Bahia Studios Blog