Episode Three: The History of
Marian MacDowell, creator of the MacDowell Colony, has
been identified as a "significant figure in American cultural history."
She invited her first colonist to Peterborough in 1907, and lived to 1956,
when she died at age 98. She had vision and purpose and was a tireless
worker, fundraiser and builder for the Colony. Unlike most other late 19th
Century colonies which were developed around a charismatic figure, the
MacDowell Colony with its rules and routines was the result of a specific
plan carried out by Marian and a New York-based board of directors. They
developed a colony to provide artists with tranquillity and fellowship
regardless of social status or income. Artists are chosen with consideration
of talent and seriousness of purpose. A common question is: "Who is at
MacDowell now who is famous?" and the reply is "We don't know... yet."
1: Living at the Colony
2: Edward & Marian MacDowell
Students viewing the History of the Colony episode
will recognize the effort it takes to build something worthwhile and lasting
through the qualities demonstrated by Marian MacDowell and the support
that she gained through the community of Peterborough.
1. Have students discuss the qualities (strong, visionary)
of a person who develops something that is worthwhile and lasting. Ask
how those qualities compare to those demonstrated by artists as they develop
a work of art.
2. Have students brainstorm: "What is an artist?"; and
"In what different mediums may an artist work?"
Focus for Viewing
1. Direct students to find examples of the various personality
traits that helped Marian MacDowell successfully develop the Colony.
2. Why is Marian MacDowell considered a "significant figure
in American cultural history" and who else would join her on that list?
3. What various mediums do colonists work in?
Ask students to do a reflective writing on a task they
think is "worthwhile and lasting," and to which they could consider dedicating
a lifetime, even if it means "doing without."