Swanson Elementary School

January 25, 2001

Students of Dede Marshall's third grade class conduct an eSchool chat with Phoebe, a docent with the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.. Student questions are posted using the eSchool account of Ron Abdouch.

Ron Abdouch: Good morning!

Phoebe: Hi Ron. Do you have some students with you?

Ron Abdouch: Not yet, they should be here shortly. Are you going to here with me?

Phoebe: I'm chatting in the Red room, there are 2 other rooms going.

Ron Abdouch: Great, I will get back to you as soon as students arrive. Thanks so much for doing this!!!

Phoebe: You just let me know when they are there.

Ron Abdouch: Good morning again. I am here now with Patrick, Austin and Hannah!

Phoebe: Great, welcome to SAAM

Phoebe: I thought I would tell you a little about Cornell.

Ron Abdouch: Could you show us Dovecote

Phoebe: Sure, it'll be with you in a meoment

Phoebe: http://nmaa-ryder.si.edu/images/1978/1978.95.13_1b.jpg

Phoebe: Are you getting the images?

Ron Abdouch: Yes we have it. Patrick would like to know if they are real eggs?

Phoebe: No, they aren't really eggs. If I remember correctly, they are little wooden balls painted to look like

eggs. Do you know waht a Dovecote is?

Ron Abdouch: Where they keep pidgeons.

Phoebe: Very good. So this is a box that kind of looks like a place where birds perch.

Ron Abdouch: Hannah would like to know if Cornell had any birdS of his own?

Phoebe: Good question Hannah! Apparently he didn't have real birds, but he was very intrigued by birds. He

put wooden cut-outs of birds in alont of the boxes he made.

Ron Abdouch: Austin would like to know how old Cornell was when and how he died?

Phoebe: Cornell was 69 years old when he died. During the course of his life he made about 1000 boxes!

Ron Abdouch: Do you know how he died?

Phoebe: I think that he was just old, amybe a heart attack.

Ron Abdouch: Can you please show us dreams are like stars?

Phoebe: It will be with you shortly.

Phoebe: http://nmaa-ryder.si.edu/images/1984/1984.124.71_1b.jpg

Phoebe: Do you see it?

Ron Abdouch: Thanks, Who asked Cornell to do this sculpture?

Phoebe: He was asked by a big company named the Container Corporation. They actually make boxes!

Wasn't it smart of them to ask Cornell to do a box?

Phoebe: Can you tell what is on the bottom of the box?

Ron Abdouch: Hannah thinks it is dried seaweed and shells?

Phoebe: That's as good guess, Hannah. There are shells that he found at the shore, and a piece of driftwood

that also washed up on the shore.

Phoebe: In this box, Cornell cut out that picture of the figure, and glued it to the back of the box.

Ron Abdouch: Thanks. What is the person doing kneeling?

Phoebe: The person represents a constellation. The ancients used to chart the skies by finding figures.

Phoebe: I am going to enlarge the piece so you can scroll and see the figure better

Ron Abdouch: How did his brother die?

Phoebe: http://nmaa-ryder.si.edu/images/1984/1984.124.71_1a.jpg

Phoebe: we don't know how the brother died.

Ron Abdouch: We did not get it. Please try again!

Phoebe: Because it's bigger, it takes time todownload

Ron Abdouch: Our message said the attemp failed.

Phoebe: http://nmaa-ryder.si.edu/images/1984/1984.124.71_1a.jpg

Phoebe: any LUCK?

Ron Abdouch: no

Phoebe: Well, maybe we should move on to Bel Echo Gruyere?

Ron Abdouch: Yes I AGREE They kids would like to know if it is cheese in the middle?

Phoebe: http://nmaa-ryder.si.edu/images/1985/1985.64.42A-B-1b.gif

Ron Abdouch: I am not getting that image either.

Phoebe: http://nmaa-ryder.si.edu/images/1985/1985.64.42A-B_1b.gif

Phoebe: Are you now?

Ron Abdouch: No, but the kids have to go but before they do they really want to knof if it is cheese in the


Phoebe: I have a story to tell you about this piece. That isn't a real piece of cheese but it sure looks like it!

He made this out of a box that he found. The other boxes he made himself.

Phoebe: Are we going to have another group, Ron?

Ron Abdouch: Yes, they dis that thanks!

Phoebe: Ron, I'm going to try to push the cheese image again.

Ron Abdouch: The new group will be here is just a moment!

Phoebe: http://nmaa-ryder.si.edu/images/1985/1985.64.42A-B_1b.gif

Phoebe: Ron, did youget it?

Ron Abdouch: no, But I am here now with Zoe, Connor and Cole!

Phoebe: Hi Zoe, Connor and Cole! What would youlike to talk about?

Ron Abdouch: Can you show us the Potrait of ondine

Phoebe: Sure thing. Just a minute

Phoebe: http://nmaa-ryder.si.edu/images/1985/1985.64.84_1b.jpg

Phoebe: I hope you are getting the image

Phoebe: Ondine was the name of a character in a ballet. Do any of you take dancing lessons?

Ron Abdouch: Zoe did!

Ron Abdouch: What is the colorful picture in the low left corner?

Phoebe: Joseph Cornell was very intersted in ballet dancers, and sometimes when a ballerina went off stage

and Cornell was there, he would snip a little piece of material off her costume!

Phoebe: That colored picture at the bottom left is a copy of a painting.

Ron Abdouch: What does the pink letter say. Anything important?

Phoebe: if you look at the bottom right you will see a watercolor painting of the dancer, and we can't really

ready on the computer screen what thepink letter says.

Ron Abdouch: Is the big book a copy of the Bible?

Phoebe: It's a very complicated box, because all the piece of paper can be placed in the box and then the box

can be closed. Most of the boxes are ;open

Phoebe: I think what you are looking at is the top of the box.

Ron Abdouch: Is this s?tuff important to anyone in Cornell's life

Phoebe: Good question. Cornell's family like theater, and music, and he had a sister who also made collages

and boxes, using alot of the same kind of materials.

Ron Abdouch: Can you show us bel Echo now?

Phoebe: I will try.

Phoebe: http://nmaa-ryder.si.edu/images/1985/1985.64.42A-B_1b.gif

Phoebe: I have the image. Do you?

Phoebe: Cornell went to the New York World's Fair and visited the Swiss Pavilion, and he made this in honor of

Swiss dairy industry.

Ron Abdouch: Why is it named as it is?

Phoebe: Gruyere is the kind of cheese they make in Switzerland, and Bel Echo might have some reference to

the alps, When you yell in the mountains, you might get an echo.

Phoebe: When he made this, he put a little bellows in that thing that looks like the cheese. When you turned it

over, it would make a "moo" sound. But it doesn't work anymore

Ron Abdouch: Can we see Box with Marbles

Phoebe: Sure, that is one that I have a question for you about.

Phoebe: http://nmaa-ryder.si.edu/images/1985/1985.64.52_1b.jpg

Ron Abdouch: What is your question?

Phoebe: Do you see it? This one had no name given it by Cornell. What would you name it?

Ron Abdouch: We named it Purple box with Marbles!

Phoebe: Can anyone think who might wear something purple? And what about the yellow (or gold) ?

Ron Abdouch: Maybe kings or queens?

Phoebe: Very good! So if kings or queens have purple and gold, maybe this is a treasure chest!

Ron Abdouch: The gold is the gold of the crown, rings, etc!

Ron Abdouch: If that is true, why is the one outside the box

Phoebe: Yes! What an observant group you are!

Phoebe: Does this change your mind about a title for it?

Ron Abdouch: Can we rename it now that we know?

Phoebe: Sure...what name are you going to give it?

Ron Abdouch: Purple Treasure Chest is our new name

Phoebe: Great. I think that Cornell would approve!

Ron Abdouch: Thanks we hope do! Why would Cornell build a treasure chest?

Phoebe: My guess is that he thought of his objects as treasures.

Phoebe: Would you like to talk about the box with alphabet cards?

Ron Abdouch: Excellent!!

Ron Abdouch: One more question!

Phoebe: okay

Ron Abdouch: What is in the rest of the cups?

Phoebe: I am pretty sure that there is a yellow marble in each of the cups, but the photograph doesn't show


Phoebe: http://nmaa-ryder.si.edu/images/1985/1985.64,61_1b.jpg

Ron Abdouch: The kids say thanks and good bye

Phoebe: http://nmaa-ryder.si.edu/images/1985/1985.64.61_1b.jpg

Phoebe: Here's their going awawy present

Phoebe: I enjoyed doing the chat with you. Bye.

Ron Abdouch: Thanks this we excellent and once again we really appreciate your time. We all really really

learned a lot!!!


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