FARMINGTON, CT - Hill-Stead Museum is the proud new owner of “touchable art” – an exciting addition for the National Historic Landmark known for its treasured Impressionist masterpieces. As part of “A Close Brush with Genius: Encountering Impressionism at Hill-Stead Museum,” a program generously funded by The SBM Charitable Foundation, Inc., the museum commissioned local artist Susan Prentice to create a painting that students could touch to their hearts’ delight while on school tours.
In her quest to make the artwork tactile, with smooth and textured surfaces, Ms. Prentice chose to paint a side-by-side depiction of one subject with two different treatments. She painted two sheep – in keeping with Hill-Stead’s agricultural ties – one shorn (smooth) and one unshorn (textured). Included in the background landscape, as a tribute to Hill-Stead’s Impressionist collection, she added Monet-like haystacks.
“The assignment gave me a chance to come up with a creative idea to provide the students with an opportunity to have a tactile, not just a visual, experience with a work of fine art,” said Ms. Prentice. “It was a pleasure for me to produce this painting for Hill-Stead’s outreach to children, and I hope the work will enhance their experience when they visit this very special place.” Ms. Prentice, a long time Simsbury resident, has a studio there and exhibits widely. Her work can be seen at www.susanprentice.com.
“A Close Brush with Genius: Encountering Impressionism at Hill-Stead Museum” has served more than 1,700 students since its inception, providing free field trips to the museum, including transportation costs and enrichment activities on site, which involve art projects, student poetry readings, or nature walks on the 152-acre landscape. The program currently serves students from East Hartford, Manchester and Vernon public schools. “Hill-Stead resonates particularly well with young students,” said Celeste Polley, program coordinator. “We have an exceptional collection in a welcoming atmosphere – we’re a comfortable place for students to engage in critical discussions about art and history.”
The SBM Charitable Foundation, Inc., perpetuating the vision of the former Savings Bank of Manchester, is committed to bettering the lives of those who live and work predominantly East of the River in Hartford, Tolland, and Windham Counties. Priorities established for the Foundation’s giving are Health, Human Services, Education, Housing, and the Arts.
A National Historic Landmark and an Official Project of Save America’s Treasures, Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, CT, is a stop on the Connecticut Art Trail and a member of Connecticut’s Historic Gardens. The 1901 period rooms, boasting Impressionist masterpieces and original furnishings, are open for tours Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am – 4 pm. The last tour of the day begins at 3 pm. Grounds are open daily 7:30 am-5:30 pm. For tour and program information, browse www.hillstead.org or call 860.677.4787.