Art Influences and Education

Bessie used her art to help support and further her education. Her talent was natural, but she also attended a correspondence art school. Armed with a completion of this course of study she sold her paintings and taught art. In fact, it was her interest in art that led her into Anthropology. Bessie traveled to New Mexico in the early 1920s to study the "primitive ornamentation." It was in the Pueblos that she began to think of art in its broadest terms as anthropology.

Locating people who purchased her paintings has not proven fruitful. Her niece was sure she left some of her art with San Jose High School where she taught Art from 1922-28, but thus far I have failed to find anyone who knows where those pieces might be. Click on small pieces below to link to some of her art.

Descendants of Bessie's brother, Bert have many small pieces that were probably done as studies for larger works that were sold.

Here is the artbox which Bert made for Bessie. She carried it everywhere and the pieces of charcoal you see here are the very ones that she used in the Amazon so long ago.

Bert designed this so that it could be carried easily, knowing that Bessie would be in some strange locations.

Art was an impart part of Bessie's life. She taught drawing at her undergraduate alma mater, Andrews University. After her graduation from Columbia University in 1926 she went on a tour of art museums in Europe and spent a month studying with Fraz Cizek in Vienna.

Cizek was the originator of an art education program called Kinetismus. Cizek was interested in capturing the flow of movement and its varying rhythms with clarity rather than merely depicting the impression of movement. He and his students used cubism which had been around for a while to convey this motion and emotion of calm, rapture and fear.

He was most noted for the work he did with children. Part of the progressive movement in education he had shows of their work displayed throughout the art world. At left you see art that one of his young students created.

Professor Franz Cizek’s ideas about the nature of children and art education become widespread through his Exhibition of Children’s Art in London in 1934, and 1935. Cizek first founded his Juvenile Art Class in Vienna in 1897. Cizek's approach to juvenile art education opened the minds of many educators to a new way of teaching art. Cizek's main belief was that children should let their natural talents unfold freely, unhampered by vocational, or technical training from their teachers.

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