Mary Sue Donsky: Sketching for the Study of Estates, Wills, and Trusts

Pieter Claesz, Still Life with Skull and Writing Quill, 1628

Pieter Claesz, Still Life with Skull and Writing Quill, 1628

Professor Mary Sue Donsky schedules field trips to art museums for students in her LAW 2301 Estates, Wills, and Trusts course.  On one recent trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she gave students a tour “Honoring Decedents in Art Across Time and Cultures” that used artifacts from the museum’s collection to highlight funerary-related traditions through history.  What’s a decedent?  For those unfamiliar with legal lingo, a decedent is a deceased person, a term used mainly in law.  During the field trip students were asked to sketch art that honors decedents such as grave markers or ancestor figures, or other examples of related artifacts, including sarcophagi, urns, and reliquaries.  Following the trip, students visited museum websites all over the world to “collect” objects for a class blog.  Professor Donsky effectively uses the skill of drawing to communicate the historical dimensions of the course.  Giving students the opportunity to sketch is a unique way to reinforce and broaden lessons learned in the class room, and suggests that perhaps we should consider drawing to be a Gen Ed skill.

Click here to see Professor Donsky’s class blog for photos from the field trip and examples of student sketches. 

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