by Assistant Head of Community Engagement Gordon Mathis
Last week, Galloway’s AP Literature classes hosted J. F. Martel, a Canadian writer, teacher, and author of Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice, to talk with seniors about the topic “What is Art For?”
Senior English teacher Dr. Lauren Holt and 10th grade World History teacher Alex Diaz-Williamson have taken online courses with J. F. Martel and wanted Galloway students to meet and learn from this thoughtful and incisive teacher. The Galloway teachers applied for a grant from the school’s STEAM resources, focusing on the artistic component of the funding.
Earlier in the school year, the seniors began their study of literature with an analysis of various Creation stories, focusing on the Garden of Eden stories in Genesis. Martel’s discussions provided a pivot as the students turn to their reading of John Milton’s Paradise Lost.
Martel led discussions during AP Literature classes and hosted an evening conversation. One example of a student’s response to Martel’s discussion came when a student asked about her understanding of the symbols incorporated in Picasso’s Guernica and whether her iconographic analysis of the symbols in the painting detracts from its meaning. Student and speaker engaged in a high level of discourse which enriched the understanding of all the students present at the conversation.
Dr. Lauren Holt praised Martel's visit, saying, “His conversations were inspiring, opening new and exciting perspectives about what art does and what art is for.” Through discussions of art, 17th century poetry, and open-ended questions, Galloway teachers and guest speakers challenge students and prepare them for the rigors of their next stage of learning in college.