So here is my assessment of my personal and blog-related top items for the year 2011:
#1 Personal Achievement of the Year:
Participating in NaNoWriMo and finally writing a 62,384 word book
Leading my first online/distance education class on The Psychology of Math Education
These are both things that I've been saying for years that I wanted to do, so I'm really glad that I finally did them instead of just talking about them. So I'm very grateful to my son for talking me into doing the former, and to my friend Maria Droujkova for talking me into doing the latter.
#1 Major Art Exhibit of the Year:
American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell at the North Carolina Museum of Art
Rembrandt in America at the North Carolina Museum of Art
I think these two exhibits beat out all the great art we get to see in DC galleries when we go up there to visit my father because we took guided tours for both these exhibits, whereas we are just looking at the art on our own when we are viewing art in Washington. Both the North Carolina Museum of Art and the Nasher Gallergy at Duke University do an excellent job on their educational tours, and we try to schedule a group trip for all the major exhibits, because it is well worth the effort.
What is particularly special about both these exhibits, however, is the fact that I didn't particular appreciate either of those two artists prior to these exhibits. After taking the tours, however, I had to wonder about how I could have been so blind to their artistic abilities. I have especially changed my mind about Norman Rockwell. I used to think his work was simplistic and commercial; now I see it as simple and iconic. It now reminds me of something I learned recently in researching the Buddhism unit I am currently teaching in World Religions. The Buddhists say we look, but we do not see, because if we truly saw, we would be blown away by every leaf, every flower, every stone, and every face we ever viewed. But that was kind of how Norman Rockwell lived--seeing the extraordinary in what people like me dismissed as ordinary. So that exhibit was a great lesson for me, not only about art, but about life.
#1 Local Gallery Exhibit of the Year:
Carbon Load by Jenny Eggleston at Artspace
ARTQUILTSrepurposed by Professional Art Quilters of America-South at the Page-Walker Arts and History Center
This is a tough category, because we've seen a lot of great art at our local galleries, fans that we are of First Friday in downtown Raleigh and Final Friday in downtown Cary. But Jenny Eggleston's exhibit, who also happens to be my son's best art teacher ever, was so creative, so inventive, so beautiful, and with such an important message that even just remembering it brings tears to my eyes. And we always look forward to the annual ARTQUILTS exhibit, which are not only beautiful, but make us rethink what it is to be a quilt.
Best New Addition to the Local Arts Scene:
The Cary Arts Center
Two fantastic new venues for all sorts of arts, and both within walking distance from our house!
#1 Museum Exhibit of the Year:
The Crochet Coral Reef at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum
I can't believe I didn't post about the Crochet Coral Reef, since it was the inspiration for the Ocean Studies Coop we are doing this year and will be a major focus of next year's activities--stay tuned for more details soon. But the State of Deception exhibit was the best thing I've ever seen in terms of explaining how Hitler managed to do all that he did. It's an incredible exhibit.
#1 Blog Post of the Year (by number of views):
Runner Ups (tied for number of views):
Other than that, as I look back, there have been so many great books, so many great classes, so many great friends, and so many great times that I just can't go into them all. But many thanks to all of you who have helped to make 2011 such a wonderful year for me and my family and our communities, whether physical or virtual.
And I can't wait to see what 2012 has in store!
Happy New Year's Eve to all!