AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (March 13–April 7, 2017)

THE WHEELER SCHOOL TO EXHIBIT “AN AMERICAN IN PARIS”
DRAWINGS BY ITS FOUNDER, MARCH 13 - APRIL 7, 2017,
PART OF EVENTS AND EXHIBITS CELEBRATING
WOMEN IN THE ARTS IN PROVIDENCE DURING MARCH

An American in Paris: Drawings by Mary Colman Wheeler, founder of The Wheeler School and a woman pioneer in the integration of art into primary and secondary education in America, will be on display at The Wheeler School’s Chazan Gallery, March 13 – April 7,2017. The exhibit is curated by the chair of the Wheeler School Art Department and Mary Wheeler Archivist Robert Martin.

Unable to find adequate art instruction in the United States, Mary Colman Wheeler (1846-1920) sought private instruction in Europe in the 1870s. Arriving in Paris in 1875, Wheeler entered the atelier of Jacquesson de la Chevreuse and remained under his tutelage from 1876 to 1882. Jacquesson was a leading proponent of French Neo-Classicism.

The drawings on display were selected from a portfolio donated by Richard and Betty Ann Wheeler of Concord, MA. The collection offers a fascinating insight into the teaching methods employed by the 19th century French atelier, most prominently the use of the plaster cast as a means of heightening observational skills and the precise rendering of value. 

The exhibition will also include photographs and Wheeler's letters written from Paris to her family in Concord, Massachusetts, revealing her thoughts on life as a single woman living abroad, Jacquesson's teaching method, and her ultimate intention to create educational opportunities for women by establishing a French-style art school in the United States. Founded in 1883, "Miss Wheeler's Studio" played a central role in the dissemination of art and culture in Providence, growing into a full college-preparatory school (The Mary C. Wheeler School) in 1889. Ever faithful to her artistic roots in France, Wheeler arranged annual trips for her students to Paris beginning in 1887, culminating in six summers residing in Giverny as a neighbor to Claude Monet from 1907 to 1912.

An early pioneer in the integration of Art into primary and secondary curricula, Wheeler served as a delegate on three consecutive international congresses on Art Education. She was awarded the distinguished title of "Officer of the Academy" by the French government and an honorary degree from Brown University in 1911.

The exhibition will run in conjunction with Making Her Mark: the Women of the
Providence Art Club, 1880, at the Providence Art Club, March 5-31, 2017. A number of
other works by Mary Wheeler are included in the Making Her Mark exhibit.

TIMELINE FOR MARY WHEELER AND BIO FOR THE EXHIBIT CURATOR FOLLOW.
Mary C. Wheeler Timeline Highlights:
Born May 15, 1846 in Concord, Massachusetts
Graduates Abbot Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, 1866.
First European travels, 1870 to 1872.
Studies Art in Paris, 1876 to 1882.
Drawing accepted at the Paris Salon, 1880.
Opens Art Studio, Providence, RI, 1883.
Establishes The Wheeler School- School with full curriculum, 1889.
Serves as US Delegate to three international conferences on Art Education 1900, 1904, 1908.
Awarded "Officer of the Royal Academy" by the French government, 1911.
Honorary degree from Brown University, 1911.
Summers in Giverny, France, 1907 - 1912.
Dies March 20, 1920.
Memorial Exhibit at the Providence Art Club, 1920.
Mary C. Wheeler, Leader in Art Education, by Blanche Wheeler-Williams, published in 1934 and reissued in 2000.
The Fullness of Life, retrospective of drawings and paintings at the Concord Public Library, Concord, MA, 2000.

Bio for Robert Martin, Chair of the Art Department, The Wheeler School
BA in Visual Arts, Ramapo College of New Jersey, 1980.
MFA in Photography from Rhode Island School of Design, 1988.
Children’s Book Illustration, RISD CE, 2013.
Exhibited photographs and paintings nationally.
Teacher of art and art history at the Wheeler School, 1990 to present.
Curated The Fullness of Life, Drawings and Paintings of Mary C. Wheeler at the Concord Public Library, Concord, MA, 2000.
Author, Artist and Publisher of children's book on Wheeler's life and legacy, Mary Wants to
Draw, 2015.