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This summer, Eric Hibit will lead a class called Drawing at the Met, building on a long and respected tradition of artists learning by studying museum collections. “Drawing art objects is a way to engage our sense of history and become active viewers. Hopefully, the experience will offer new connections to art objects by building a personal relationship to the works we draw.”
His class is designed so that students learn a different principle of drawing each meeting while exploring different sections of the museum. For instance, he says, students will visit the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas galleries to learn gesture drawing and the Temple of Dendur to understand perspective. Referring to the Metropolitan’s enormous holdings, he says, “It is a collection that takes a lifetime—and longer—to really understand and appreciate. The sheer vastness of the museum’s holdings assures that each week will be a new experience for us, and a journey into a different time and place of art history.”
Mr. Hibit, who holds an MFA in painting from Yale, is a member of the collaborative Ortega y Gasset Projects, which lets artists act as curators and critics in an effort to create more opportunities for exploration and dialogue. In 2015, he curated “The Gaps Between Us” and “Color Against Color,” two exhibitions that illustrated the value of traditional painting methods while simultaneously showing the value of breaching those boundaries. It’s not surprising, then, that Mr. Hibit finds it imperative to nurture his students’ respect for the craftsmanship of masterworks studied at the Metropolitan Museum.
In designing his course, he finds that meeting the needs of students at different experience levels can be tricky. But he addresses the problem by advising students individually during each class session. “One of the things that keeps me so engaged with teaching is witnessing the discoveries students make about their work. Investigation, experimentation, discovery, surprise: this is what students are involved in. I bring that back to my studio. It fits with the main goals of my studio practice: to keep surprising myself.“
Mr. Hibit is curating a group exhibition at Ortega y Gasset Projects, Gowanus, Brooklyn, opening late June 2016; he is part of a three-person exhibition at the Geoffrey Young Gallery, Great Barrington, MA, August 2016; and is the focus of a one-person exhibition at the University of Vermont, September 2016.