Discovering Ellis Wilson
Notes from a Teacher
When Martin Rollins of the Speed Museum in Louisville first contacted me about doing some lessons for KET related to an artist named Ellis Wilson, I was more than a little hesitant. After all, I had never heard of Ellis Wilson, so he must not have been much of an artist. I told Martin that if he couldn’t find anyone else, I would check Ellis out.
Soon after, Chela Kaplan, special projects manager for KET’s Education Division, sent me a rough cut of the video that would be airing on KET. The day after it came, I popped it in for my advanced art class. This was the first time that any of them had heard of Ellis Wilson. But since that day, we have all become great fans.
My students and I were drawn in by the life story of Ellis Wilson. They appreciated that he came from Kentucky, and that he worked so hard to make it as an artist. We anticipated visiting the web site and looking closer at his art. I have been impressed by how user-friendly the site is. It has hyperlinks that take you surfing to events and places that fall in the Ellis Wilson timeline. There are numerous opportunities for lessons and learning.
Currently my students are working on an
“Ellis-style” painting, and they are coming along nicely. I highly recommend that you check Ellis Wilson out. Like my students and me, you will be pleasantly surprised.
Patrick Robertson is the art teacher at Central High Magnet Career Academy in Louisville. He teaches classes for the Louisville Visual Art Association and serves on the Teacher Advisory Board for the Speed Art Museum. See the lesson plan he provided for an outline of the Ellis Wilson project his students completed and our student gallery for some of the results.