Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Master and His Apprentices ~ A Crew Review

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Christian art history, art history curriculum, art appreciation

Who is your favorite Artist? Monet, Renoir, Degas, Seurat? Art History is a subject I have enjoyed for years. My dad was an artist and I was fortunate to get to spend long hours of my childhood wandering the halls of the Indianapolis Museum of Art and other galleries. That is not the case for most students today, especially high schoolers, which is why I was intrigued to learn about The Master and His Apprentices:  Art History from a Christian Perspective. This in depth art history course covering the time from Creation through the Renaissance is available from The Master and His Apprentices as either a hardcover book or a PDF style eBook.

Arlene and I received the eBook version of The Master and His Apprentices textbook along with the Teacher’s Guide for this review. Since Arlene has already had quite a bit of Art History, we chose to use this as a supplement to her other coursework. 

The Master and His Apprentices textbook was designed to be used for a complete Art History high school level elective course, and the Teacher’s Guide has the syllabus laid out for you as either a classroom teacher or homeschool parent to cover one entire school year (36 weeks) with suggestions on how to modify it if you are following a 34 week school year. We have read through several chapters already and I heartily concur that this could be a full credit course if used as originally designed. But I want to focus today’s review on how this textbook could also be a wonderful supplement to use in your home or classroom as a supplement to other learning for students of about ages 12 and up by themselves, or for all ages with Mom or Dad paraphrasing for them.

The course begins with an overview of art. Gina Ferguson, the author, shares several thoughts about art in Chapter 1: Introduction to Art. As you will soon learn, she is a young-earth creationist who is passionate about sharing her wonder and awe at the beautiful creation that God has designed, and how Art is man’s recreation of the world God made that we see all around us. This thought particularly struck me as summing up her reason to study art:

-Art, when crafted in its intended form, raises hearts and minds in praise and adoration to God Most High, the Master Artist.

As Arlene and I worked through the beginning chapters of this 380 page book, we noticed several things that make this not only a wonderful art history book, but a solid world history book as well. Beginning with chapter 3, each chapter focuses on a recognized period of time in reference to art/ artifacts. Each chapter included a part of a larger timeline and has three sections:
-important world events
-famous art from the time period (i.e. Aegean, Early Greek, Baroque)
-major Biblical events/ Christian history

We liked how this sort of timeline allows you to see what other cultures were creating as they relate to the time period in the Bible or during Christian history. That way when you get to the Proto-Renaissance period in Chapter 13 you can see the artwork that was created around the time that Wycliffe translated the Vulgate Bible into Vernacular. For those of us who are history geeks, that is a really cool way to relate world history, art and Christianity without needing to memorize a bunch of specific dates.

Arlene (18) and I both agree that this textbook would be an excellent resource to use while studying world history, as reading the appropriate section could really help your student have a deeper understanding of the world as a whole in a specific time period. This is a living book, and we highly recommend it for anyone using Charlotte Mason’s methods with their children (of any age.) Since it is written from a Christian perspective, you do not need to worry about your child turning the page and finding something untoward. 

Personally, I would love to purchase a bound printed copy of this book to have on my shelves at home, even though we are almost finished with homeschooling! Mostly that is because of the way in which specific artist are highlighted during the Renaissance and other periods. I have long enjoyed Albrecht Dürer’s woodcuts and engravings, along with several of the High Italian Renaissance painters. What a treasure trove of beautiful artwork! Just yesterday we were in a store with art prints and Arlene said “Hey Mom, it’s one of the pictures from our art book!” referring to The Kiss by Gustav Klimt.

At the end of The Master and His Apprentices textbook are about 30 pages of helps/ appendices. Included in this section are a master timeline, and a Pieces by Location guide to help you locate the works used in the book for if you are planning to travel. This is a wonderful addition. If we were going to travel to the Art Institute in Chicago for example, we could check ahead of time and see if the three pieces located there will be on display during our visit. Know that many (most) museums rotate pieces on and off of display, so it is always a good idea to call or email first to check before visiting!

Arlene wanted me to share a few thoughts about what she most enjoyed while looking through the textbook. She particularly liked that it showed that art is just the imitation of all the beautiful creation God has made for us to enjoy. She was also happy that it covered more than just paintings, that especially in the ancient time periods it showed sculpture and architecture. Also appreciated were the comparisons made of different areas of the world during the same time in history, and the plentiful use of pictures to illustrate the point, not just text. 

We give The Master and His Apprentices two thumbs up. It is a highly detailed, but still interesting, look at art throughout world history. Finding the creation account covered and used to begin teaching art terminology was a breath of fresh air in a subject - art history - that too often looks for the exotic or erotic instead of the praiseworthy pieces to focus on.

To read more about how you might use The Master and His Apprentices as a full curriculum, click the banner below and check out some of the other Crew reviews!

The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}

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