The Billings Outpost

‘Aha’ time at YAM

By SCOTT PRINZING - For The Outpost...

How many times have visitors to Yellowstone Art Museum had an “aha moment” where they saw something in a new light? Art can help us all see the world in new and unique ways. The docents at YAM aren’t immune from experiencing those moments either, no matter how many times they might have seen a work of art or discussed it with groups of visitors.

“Docents Present ... Aha! Moments” is an exhibition “inspired by the sense of elation experienced when making new discoveries, resolving old problems, or recognizing beauty for the first time,” according to Linda Ewert, education director at the YAM.

The museum has a small but committed corps of volunteer educators – docents – who serve both as tour guides and as ambassadors for the arts in the schools. As people who see countless exhibits and interact with innumerable visitors of many ages and backgrounds, the docents are bound to see things from fresh perspectives on a regular basis.

The YAM web page for the exhibit challenges visitors to come and “stimulate your brain chemistry through an exploration of visual cues that will enhance your view of the world while reinforcing knowledge, memory, and emotion. One of the great joys in life is experiencing those seemingly sudden flashes of insight, ‘aha moments,’ when cognition is literally electrified.”

For this exhibition, a group of YAM’s docents worked on the project for several months. Retired art and art history professor Bob Rickels, a committee member and docent at YAM since 1998, said, “The committee had various ideas, but eventually it came together and we all grew through the experience.”

Once the pieces were selected, they were then put into display groups with the aim of enhancing the viewer’s experience and reinforcing understanding of the artistic intent, Rickels said.

The important role the docents perform helps YAM fulfill its mission. Ewert said, “The exhibition organization by these well informed educators exemplifies the museum’s desire to heighten accessibility to and awareness about the museum’s collections.”

She continued, “It is designed to further inclusiveness among and participation by viewers and transcend a strictly authoritarian point of view relevant to artistic interpretation.”

Ewert stressed how much the museum staff and trustees, “Thank our critically important volunteer docent corps that diligently serves area art patrons with gallery tours and educational activities throughout the year.” The docents’ “commitment to art education and public service is invaluable,” Ewert said. They invite you to enjoy your own “aha moments.”

Both YAM and the YAM docents have Facebook pages where people can see photos, get updates on exhibits and educational events and leave comments and questions.

The holidays are a great time to take in the exhibit – quick before it closes! Aha! Moments opened in October, but its last day on view will be Sunday, Jan. 6.

Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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