By Howard Clemens
Desmond Cormier is an art teacher at the Buford Middle School in Charlottesville, Virginia. He has taught at the school for 16 years. Cormier lives at a nearby farmstead with his wife, Virginia, a sheep farmer. He became an educator after many years in an entirely different profession. “My first career was a commercial deep sea diver and I was also involved in the offshore drilling industry for 17 years,” says Cormier. Thanks to the demands of his first profession, he has traveled all over the world.
Now Cormier believes his art students should gain exposure to the world through travel at an early age. Each year, Cormier organizes a student trip to New York City and invites students to take a deeper look at ‘the city that never sleeps.’
“When I was young, I toured all over the world,” says Cormier, “I think it’s a valuable experience to bring these students to New York City and let them see the world through their own eyes,” he added. Basically, Cormier attempts to schedule a class trip to New York City for those interested in taking a long weekend. Student trips to New York City took place in 2013 & 2014. In 2015, Cormier says he couldn’t get the number of students needed to travel, yet he’s planning to travel again with his students over the long term.
While on tour of New York City, students visit world famous art museums, such as the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Cormier says this is an excellent opportunity to take in some masterpieces. “Students see these famous works of art in real life. These artistic treasures are totally different in a museum, in their original form,” he observed.
Touring such large museums may be a daunting endeavor for a teacher and his class. Cormier says “The Metropolitan Museum of Art was overwhelming and MOMA is such large museum it is hard to take it all in.” However, the Guggenheim Museum’s set-up is perfect, because, students have to go from the top down to the bottom. “The way the museum is designed, they have to see the entire collection and exhibitions,” commented Cormier.
In addition to touring art museums as a complement to their studies, students also immerse themselves in the New York City experience. Here there are exposed to the diversity of the U.S. population, by visiting immigrant neighborhoods, and experiencing a lively artistic culture as well as global cuisine choices. “We had dinner in Times Square and the kids loved the excitement of it all. It was Saturday night,” said Cormier. The student group also visited Chinatown, toured the New York Harbor, and saw the Empire State Building, among other sites.
After touring the world, Cormier eventually returned to Charlottesville, Virginia, because it’s home to him. “My wife loves sheep farming. I love Charlottesville, because I am an alumni of University of Virginia and it’s my hometown.” His daughter lives in Charlottesville with his three grandchildren and Cormier also has a son in San Francisco. His views about becoming a well-rounded artist include the incorporation of travel, consideration of great artistic works, and exposure to different cultures, cuisines, architecture and social customs.
Learn more about art tours of New York City.