Fisher Folk - Educator Transcript

Hi! My name is Ashley Farmer and I’m an educator here at the UMFA.

Fisher Folk depicts a seaside scene in which two women in the foreground seem to converse with one another while a little girl looks on. We notice some additional figures in the background and, behind them, a ship.

Fisher Folk is an example of a painting in which drawing upon the information our various senses provide us each day can enable us to take a work of art in, understand it more deeply, and experience it in a memorable way. This requires imagination, of course. Let’s try it.

First, spend time looking at this work, letting your eyes move around the surface of the piece. Pause at the brushstrokes, hues, and details that capture your attention. As you practice this slow looking, what do you notice now that you didn’t notice before? What does it tell you about the artist, his use of materials, or the narrative he’s hoping to convey?

Next, draw upon your experience of smell. Picture yourself in that scene, at that moment, and imagine what scents you might experience if you stood on that same shore. Would the air smell crisp or salty? Would you catch the scent of the fish being sold or the damp, earthy smell of the wet sand?

Finally, consider what you might hear if you found yourself on the beach. Would it be waves or gulls or noises from the ship? Might the people in the background be chatting or even laughing? Or would the scene be largely quiet? How about the women and the little girl—what words are they exchanging with one another? Lean in and listen to the subjects of this work: what is their unique story?