Picturing America gifts Oklahoma schools

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) announced late last week Picturing America awards given by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to 424 schools and libraries within Oklahoma.  Picturing America is a free initiative that helps teach American history and culture by bringing some of the country’s great art directly to classrooms and libraries. In September, these schools and libraries will receive forty large, high-quality reproductions of great American art and a comprehensive teacher’s resource book to assist educators using the works of art in core subjects. For a complete list of Oklahoma’s award winners, visit Picturing America’s site click here.
“As students across Oklahoma prepare to return to school this fall, a new learning opportunity awaits many of them,” said Senator Inhofe.  “Picturing America is a unique program that provides students with a gateway to the humanities.  By bringing great art into public and private schools, libraries and communities, this program will offer Oklahomans of all ages the opportunity to learn about our nation’s history in a fresh and engaging way.  I want to encourage other Oklahoma schools and libraries to submit their applications by October 31st so that they can be considered for next year’s Picturing America Awards.”

The 424 Oklahoma institutions awarded the Picturing America program join over 26,000 schools and public libraries across the country that will participate in the program.

Tami Marler, Director of Public Information for Tulsa Public Schools: “Tulsa Public Schools is grateful to receive the Picturing America Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The district’s 42,000 students will benefit greatly from this exciting initiative to bring masterpieces of historic American art into our classrooms and libraries. What a wonderful way to learn about our nation’s rich heritage.”

Dr. Anne Caine, Superintendent of Stillwater Public Schools:  “I am thrilled that Stillwater has been chosen as a recipient of the Picturing America awards. Thanks to the National Endowment for the Humanities, ten Stillwater schools have the opportunity to learn American history in an exciting new way.”

Dr. JoAnn Layne of the Byng School District in Oklahoma:  “The Picturing America prints will be of great value to the Byng School District.  Students, adults and the citizens of our rural Oklahoma community as a whole will benefit from these pieces of artwork depicting scenes from American history.  This artwork will enrich the meaning to these moments in American history for our students, staff, and community.”

Mr. Barry Beauchamp, Superintendent of Lawton Schools: “Our students in Lawton will have an amazing new learning opportunity this year.  The Picturing America prints will open the doors to understanding American history in a fresh and exciting way that will positively impact not only our students, but our Oklahoma community as a whole.”

“The Endowment believes that Picturing America should be in every school and public library in the United States.  As a result of our first round of applications, thousands of schools and millions of people all around the country will have the chance to view and learn from this collection in their own communities,” said Bruce Cole, Chairman of the NEH.  “Picturing America helps us understand our democracy by bringing us face to face with the people, places, and events that have shaped our country.  It provides an innovative way to experience America’s history through our nation’s art.”

The NEH will offer Picturing America to more schools and libraries through a future enrollment opportunity beginning in August 2008.  All eligible schools and public libraries in the U.S. and its territories that have not previously received Picturing America may apply for the program from August 4 through October 31, 2008 at PicturingAmerica.neh.gov.

Public, private, parochial, and charter and home school consortia (K-12), as well as public libraries in the US and its territories, are eligible to receive Picturing America materials. Interested schools and public libraries will be able to apply through the NEH for the second round of Picturing America awards, beginning August 4 through October 31, 2008 for receipt of the materials in spring 2009.  Detailed instructions for submitting an application can be found in the ‘Apply Now’ section of the Picturing America Web site.

The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities.  The study of the humanities — history, literature, philosophy, and the arts — helps us explore what it means to be human.  The humanities enable us to understand the world and our place in it.

Because “democracy demands wisdom,” NEH serves and strengthens our Republic through promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans.  Through its programs, NEH provides opportunities for all citizens to embrace the humanities and benefit from their wisdom.  For more information about NEH, visit ww.neh.gov.

About art shown with this story:

Paul Revere’s Ride
Grant Wood’s bird’s-eye-view of Revere’s legendary ride offers a whimsical, child-like interpretation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s well-known poem. The artist’s desire to preserve American folklore was part of his greater scheme to forge a national identity through art and history.  Wood (1892-1942): A trained artist best known for his paintings depicting the American Midwest.  Wood emulated the primitive, unschooled style of American folk artists.  His work reflects his commitment to a truly American style—one that would link the present to the past and preserve the stories of the country’s heritage.

Grant Wood (American, 1892–1942), The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, 1931. Oil on Masonite; H. 30, W. 40 in. (76.2 x 101.6 cm): The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1950 (50.117) Photograph © 1988 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art © Estate of Grant Wood / Licensed by VAGA, New York.

Selma-to-Montgomery March for Voting Rights in 1965
America always has rewarded those with the courage to risk all for the prospect of building something new. At their very best, courageous Americans have transcended self-interest and pursued the common good.  In America, both citizens and soldiers have been called upon to defend their country and persevere through its trials. Our people have endured hardship and boldly sought to solve problems, knowing that success and advancement, though never easy, were available to all. Many images in Picturing America reflect how the courage of both leaders and citizens has shaped the American spirit.

James Karales (1930–2002), Selma-to-Montgomery March for Voting Rights in 1965, 1965. Photographic print. Located in the James Karales Collection, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University. Photograph © Estate of James Karales.

George Washington
This full-length portrait deftly captures Washington’s role as an orator, leader, and father of his country. Washington’s choice of attire—a plain black suit and no wig—conveys his belief that the United States president was not a king, but a citizen of a land where all men were created equal.  Artist Gilbert Stuart learned art abroad in the European tradition, but his style was all his own. Known for his ability to set subjects at ease, he believed inner character was reflected in a person’s physical features. Stuart’s portraits of George Washington, whom he described as a man of great passions, are among his most famous works.

Gilbert Stuart (1755–1828), George Washington (the Lansdowne portrait), 1796. Oil on canvas, 97 1/2 x 62 1/2 in. (247.6 x 158.7 cm.). National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; acquired as a gift to the nation through the generosity of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. © 2008 Smithsonian Institution, Courtesy, National Portrait Gallery.

The Last of the Mohicans
N. C. Wyeth’s romanticized cover illustration for James Fenimore Cooper’s novel The Last of the Mohicans did much to create an enduring image of the American Indian as a “noble savage.” Though his depiction of Uncas as a formidable warrior—complete with bare chest, animal skin skirt, and bow and arrow—departed from the author’s character description, it remained true to the country’s fascination with its Native American heritage.  Wyeth was both a realist painter and a highly successful illustrator. Two trips to the Adirondacks—where he tramped through the woods and cooked over an open fire to get a feel for the wilderness—inspired his cover illustration for the popular book The Last of the Mohicans.

N. C. Wyeth (1882–1945). Last of the Mohicans, cover illustration, 1919. Oil on canvas. Collection of the Brandywine River Museum. Anonymous gift, 1981. Reprinted with the permission of Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division from Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, illustrated by N. C. Wyeth. Illustrations © 1919 Charles Scribner’s Sons; copyright renewed 1947 Carolyn B. Wyeth.