Art Museum – Stress Management

Last week I gave my students a stress management assignment; participate in a wellness activity that would take them out of their usual routine and experience something different.

Norman Rockwell
Norman Rockwell

Since I always try to do the assignments I give my students, this weekend I walked to the Fort Lauderdale Art Museum to see the special exhibit “American Chronicles: the Art of Norman Rockwell.” This experience allowed me to combine several activities; in this case physical, social, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual wellness.

I’ve seen many Norman Rockwell illustrations throughout the years. As an Eagle Scout, and former scout leader, my first introduction to Norman Rockwell was his paintings of Boy Scouts. These were reproduces in Scouting handbooks and magazines. On display was A Scout is Helpful; a depiction of a Scout rescuing a young girl and her kitten from a flood. As I got older, the idealistic and sentimentalized portrayals of holidays, American life, and homecomings became more familiar.

Later, as a student of Political Science, History, Health and Wellness, the paintings were interesting on the surface, but with all great artists, the paintings led you to ask about the story behind the painting. Such examples are his Four Freedoms, based on a speech by President Franklin Roosevelt; The Problem We All Live With, dealing with school integration; and Murder in Mississippi (Southern Justice), which depicts the murders of the three civil rights workers in Mississippi.

Over his career, Rockwell created 323 covers for the Saturday Evening Post. My tribute to the artist was to burn 330 calories walking to the museum. I hope my students’ lessons in stress management were equally satisfying.

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