Tenth Graders Find Inspiration in Dwight’s Own Goya Etchings

Dwight is home to a museum-quality art collection with over 200 pieces of works by world-renowned artists across centuries and media.

Among them are etchings by Francisco Goya — in fact, a complete set of 40 from the La Tauromaquia (Bullfighting) series — published in 1816.

Painter and printmaker, Goya was the leading luminary among Spanish artists during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He has been further distinguished for occupying a place in two artistic realms as both an Old Master and the first truly modern artist. Goya’s work has had an enormous impact on generations of artists who followed, including our own student-artists!

The La Tauromaquia series, which has been installed in our Main Campus for years, now rests above a series of 12 works by tenth grade students made using a similar intaglio method of printmaking — a dry-point technique in which the image is incised into a plastic printing plate to hold the ink using a sharp “needle” point.

The finished pieces reflect the thoughtful work students undertook during the first semester of their IB Visual Arts class entitled “Power, Rebels and Revolutions” taught by Justyn Ambrose, Head of Visual Arts. He says, “Together, we have been exploring how works of art can be used to communicate ideas and personal responses to issues and events in the world, challenge dominant prevailing views, and serve as a powerful tool to bring about social and political change.” 

The Learning and Creative Processes
First, tenth graders examined the La Tauromaquia series — one of countless teaching tools in our living museum — investigated the subject matter and studied Goya’s master printmaking techniques. In this series, Goya depicted bullfighting through his own lens, which was a bold reflection of the tumultuous social and political forces of the era in which he lived. 

Next, students studied German Expression, a movement during the early 20th century in which artists, reflecting a moment of rebellious change in the history of Western art, emphasized subjectivity over reality, often distorting it to reflect their personal feelings and to communicate ideas. Tenth graders explored how the images and compositions created by noted artists such as Käthe Kollwitz, Max Beckmann, and Ludwig Meidner were responses to the societal and political issues specific to life in pre-WWII Germany. Their prints, which are part of MoMA’s vast collection of German Expressionist works, served as further inspirations for students.

Bringing together the knowledge gleaned from studying the Goya series and German Expressionism, students were tasked with reflecting on their own experiences and responding to a challenge they see in today’s world to create compositions using the dry-point printmaking method. The results were on display in our Fall 2020 Visual Arts Exhibition and now share the same pride of place as one of Goya’s most noted bodies of work! Our community can enjoy seeing them — and perhaps among them is an “early work” by the next in a long line of famous artists who Goya inspired!

We are proud of Dwight’s impressive collection of art, providing students with a uniquely enriching environment in which to learn from original sources, develop their skills, and spark their creativity. We look forward to more projects in which students tap into their own talents and create their own pieces inspired by studying the bounty of artworks across campus!

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