How would you depict the idea ‘compassion’ on a piece of canvas?  To see how local art students would respond to that question, the Trout Museum of Art, in partnership with the Appleton, WI Area School District and the Appleton Education Foundation, last year announced The Appleton Compassion Project.  The project organizers asked 10,436 Appleton Area School District K-12 art students to draw or paint their idea of compassion on a 6-inch-by-6-inch art panel, along with a written statement about their work. 

The artwork is now completed and more than 10,000 art panels from Appleton students will be installed in The Trout Museum of Art and on view from May 1–June 30, 2011 and viewable as a virtual exhibit* on the museum’s website. Additional tiles will also be on exhibit at Lawrence University’s Jason Downer Commons May 1-June 6, 2011.

To help museum and virtual visitors view the artwork, Appleton-based Skyline Technologies built a viewer on Windows Azure to enable visitors to search for art by student name, grade, school, teacher or art teacher, as well as provide a manageable way look at selected pieces from the larger exhibit.

The inspiration behind the project came from Richard Davidson, PhD, a University of Wisconsin-Madison brain researcher who has found that those who practice compassion have measurably healthier brains. Davidson’s research also shows that compassion can be learned, and should be practiced, as a skill. “A little more joy might be within everyone’s reach,” says Davidson. 

* The virtual exhibit page requires Silverlight to be installed on your computer. You can install Silverlight here or it will install automatically the first time you visit the page. Please be patient, it may take several minutes to load.


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