Bringing Art History to Life

Dr. C.D. Dickerson ’94, Curator and Head of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. (and parent of Amelia ’26 and Simon ’24 and husband of FWCD Board Vice President Elyse Stoltz Dickerson ’93), spoke to eighth-graders on November 2, giving them an interesting art history lesson on the various paintings they are studying at the Kimbell Art Museum for their Renaissance Art History Research Project. Dr. Dickerson is exceptionally familiar with the five choices as he served as the Curator of European Art at the Kimbell from 2009 to July 2015.
The lengthy multidisciplinary project, which kicked off in October with visits to the Kimbell Art Museum, engages students in the arts, fosters communication skills, and builds upon their literary criticism skills. Students traveled to the Kimbell and took notes from their English teachers on five paintings from the Renaissance period. 
 
Those paintings are:
 
The Cardsharps (Caravaggio)

“Every year, the eighth-grade team selects at least five paintings that best represent the Renaissance, usually with an Italian foundation since the period began in Florence. This unit leads up to the Shakespearean play that we will teach, which is A Midsummer Night’s Dream this year. As teachers, we want the students to gain the necessary knowledge and research skills for Upper School, and we hope that those skills will translate to any class. We also hope they will develop a love for art,” Burleson said. “Having Dr. Dickerson speak to the students was a dream come true for me personally because we missed him when Simon was an eighth-grader because Dr. Dickerson was traveling. The connection of having alumni return and speak to our students is so important in helping our students realize what they too can become in the world and what a powerful influence they can be for others.”  

Each student selects one painting to research and then produces an in-depth traditional research paper. Extra credit is offered to those who choose to return to the Kimbell with their families and serve as a docent for the painting they researched and wrote about for the project. 

Dr. Dickerson, who has written a book titled Raw Painting: The Butcher’s Shop by Annibale Carracci, shared with the students that Carracci painted what he knew: The artist was born into a family of butchers and had a great understanding of the profession, which could be seen in the detailed brushwork of the meat in the painting. 

Dr. Dickerson expressed gratitude to the FWCD teachers for focusing on art history and encouraging conversation about the painting. 

In his job at the National Gallery, Dr. Dickerson writes books, curates exhibitions, and acquires art. When asked by Adam Rafati ‘26 during the Q&A what he would love to bring to the National Gallery, he said he would like to bring in pieces by Caravaggio and Michelangelo since those two artists are currently not represented. 
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Fort Worth Country Day (FWCD) is a JK-12 private, independent, coeducational, nondenominational college-preparatory school located on approximately 100 acres in Fort Worth, Texas. The mission of Fort Worth Country Day School is to foster the intellectual, physical, emotional, and ethical development of capable students through an academically rigorous college preparatory program that integrates the arts and athletics.