Online Virtual Exploration

Provider: The Ringling

Contact: Katie Nickel

Starting cost per student: $0

Additional Info: FREE

Max. Capacity: 30

Transportation Needed?  No

Who Arranges Transportation?

Is Financial Assistance Offered?


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

On this FREE 45-minute interactive tour with The Ringling for grades 6-12, students will learn about abstract artist Sam Gilliam, practice improvisation, and discuss the artistic movements that complemented the Civil Rights Movement. Students will listen to jazz greats Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Thelonious Monk as they critically examine Gilliam’s abstract work, discussing how both musicians and visual artists practice improvisation. Gilliam himself listened to these same artists as he worked, and students will try their hand at improvisation, listening to jazz while making abstract drawings all their own.

Sam Gilliam was born in 1933 in Tupelo, Mississippi and like many African Americans during the Great Migration, he moved to Washington DC where he lived during the Civil Rights Movement. While not an official member of the Black Arts Movement, Gilliam infused Black consciousness into his artwork in his own way, inspired by his contemporaries. This tour introduces students to improvisation in both jazz and visual art through the exhibition Sam Gilliam: Selections on view at The Ringling. We will closely examine three works of art from the exhibition while listening to jazz music. Students will discuss both the historical context for these works of art as well as analyze the technical elements of improvisation and spontaneity.


SS.7.C.2.3, SS.912.A.7.6, VA.68.S.1.3, VA.912.S.1.3, MU.68.C.1.2, MU.68.H.1.4, MU.68.H.2.1, MU.912.C.1.2, MU.912.H.1.4, MU.912.H.2.1

Contact Us

Questions? Comments? Let us hear from you!