An Educator's Perspective on the Burchfield Penney

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

During a staff development day at Frontier Central last month we had the pleasure of a presentation by docent Karen Lesinski and members of the staff from the Burchfield Penney Art Center: Mary Kozub, Tullis Johnson and Alana Ryder. They shared information about Burchfield's life, the evolution of his work and his amazing portrayal of weather. We also learned a great deal about the Center itself, how to navigate the website with its wealth of resources and the many benefits for students and our curriculum. Each segment was shared with knowledge and a passion by the presenters that was contagious. What a wonderful way to end our year as teachers with a new depth of knowledge and fresh ideas, rejuvenating us as teachers/artists.

I have been taking a full grade level of my students each year to the Burchfield Penney Art Center since it opened and can't say enough about the great experiences and lasting impressions it has been for them. The docents are well prepared in their knowledge and in making the tours an engaging learning experience through their own passion. As an art educator, I love for the children to see the journals and sketchbooks leading up to the finished works. They realize how much more is involved in art making through observations combined with knowledge of other content areas. It is also exciting for them to become aware that Burchfield is a famous artist who lived and worked right here in Western New York.

When we reflect back at school about their trip, the students love the museum and can't wait to return with their families to spend more time (the hour goes by so quickly) and to be able to go into the Useum. The size of the museum is not overwhelming to them, and they love seeing the work of Burchfield and taking a look into his studio. They also enjoy the installations and the power of artists to portray their feelings and ideas.

Being able to customize your tour (if there are particular sketches you would like students to see, such as butterflies and moths to link with their science unit) is an added plus. A visit should definitely be a part of a school's art curriculum! I would highly encourage more schools to take advantage of all the Burchfield Penney Art Center has to offer and most important of all, make it a field trip destination!

-Laura Glista
Art Teacher, Frontier Central
Email Laura at