AUSTIN (KXAN) — Who would’ve thought a $35 bust found at an Austin Goodwill would be the source of art student field trips?
That’s the case for the San Antonio Museum of Art’s latest installment, a piece of artwork purchased from an Austin Goodwill Store by resident Laura Young that was later discovered to be a first century A.D. piece of Roman artwork.
The history of the bust and its arrival in Austin remain speculative, but art curators suggest this piece was likely stolen by Allied soldiers during World War II. The bust had been on display at the Pompejanum, the German museum that served as a replica of the Roman villa Pompeii. That museum was bombed by Allied soldiers in January 1944.
As for now, the sculpture will be on display at SAMA through May 2023, before it’ll make its way back to Germany. But before it makes its trans-Atlantic journey, a class of ninth-graders at the Austin Waldorf School were able to view the thrift store anomaly as part of a school field trip to SAMA.
“I think one of the nicest parts is when you just see students approaching works of art with curiosity and reverence,” said Robert Miller, the Austin Waldorf School’s art program director. “I could describe something all day long and they may say that’s interesting, but when you’re in the presence of something that is so ancient, or new, but made with such care? It, on some level, it’s shaping the students too.”
Ninth-graders at the Austin Waldorf School are currently taking part in a four-week aesthetic course where they’re studying antiquity art, such as Roman and Greek styles and pieces. The school’s art program includes blacksmithing, stained glass, weaving, clay sculpture work and printmaking as supplements to traditional curricula like science, math and history courses.
“[Architect] Rudolf Steiner said, ‘you should look to teach art as though it was a science and teach science as if it was an art,'” Miller said. “And when you think of doctors and chefs, and you hear raising their craft to an art or their practice to the level of an art, that’s what this art history course is really about.”