By Colin MacDougall
Coming this fall semester at Washtenaw Community College, Elisabeth Thoburn has opened up a special art appreciation course, Art 131. Art Appreciation through Art Museum Experiences will take students on a 10-week journey to visit the art museums in the region.
Thoburn wanted to make it a more hands on class and it occurred to her that there were many resources in the area. The class was first offered as an Art 130 with one special section emphasizing museum visits. “I always had one special section, it was always a Friday section,” Thoburn said.
This is the first time Thoburn will offer it in a 10-week format. Thoburn thinks this is “ideal” because it allows the class to have time each Friday to go places. The class has the content of a 15-week class, and Thoburn has taught it before in a seven and a half week fashion. Hours for each class will fluctuate, the first being short and others longer due to the drive and the visits to the museums, but it will meet at 9 a.m. on Friday mornings.
Thoburn developed the class for the many students in her art appreciation classes who would never become humanities majors or art historians.
“They were just there for a requirement, and I was trying to figure out how to make art history really interesting in front of them,” Thoburn said.
Bill and Elida Malila are two senior citizens from Ann Arbor who frequently take classes here at WCC. Both of them took Thorburn’s Art 131 class the last time it was offered 10 years ago.
“(Thoburn) is very clear, gives you context, is very good on details, and fills you in on each point of interest. It’s very rewarding. I recommend to others to take her class,” Bill said.
“A story went with everything. You didn’t just walk through and look at the art work,” Elida said.“I remember how she explained the differences between Greek and Roman statues, and how it was specifically pointed out. She really goes through each, not just statues, but all artwork.”
Over the course of the semester Thoburn will take the class to the Toledo Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Art, Cranbrook Art Museum, the American Arab Museum, the University of Michigan’s Museum of Art, and the Kelsey Museum of Archeology. Thoburn will also take the class on an architecture walk around Ypsilanti during one session.
“There is endless opportunities where you can go experience art instead of reading about it,” Thoburn said.
Seth Illingworth is 21-year-old architecture major from Ann Arbor who has taken Thoburn’s classes before and really enjoyed the experiences he got from the class. Illingworth explained that once he heard about the Art 131 class, he knew he wanted to take it.
“I don’t want to miss out on such an opportunity,” Illingworth said.