LAWG Week: Laureen Trainer on Enjoying Evaluation in the Moment

My name is Laureen Trainer and in January I became Principal of Trainer Evaluation in Denver; to say the past six months have been a mixture of excitement and terror would be an understatement. But, the good news is that I love the decision to start my own business and I’m excited to begin the next phase of my evaluation career.

As a one-person company, I do all of the data collecting, which leads to some really cool moments. Recently I’ve been observing the new school experience at the Clyfford Still Museum. My past life includes a MA in art history, so I could tell you all about Still and Abstract Expressionism and his role in the pantheon of American art. Yet, I was never a big fan of his work. But these past few weeks, I’ve listened to a lot of kids trying to describe their thoughts and feelings when looking at his art, and it has been awesome! Truly.

For example, when looking at one abstract work of a large field of orange covering 2/3 of the work and a mixture of purple, gray and black vertical lines covering the remaining 1/3 of the work, one 8th grader commented that it reminded of him of day and night. His was a good start, and I could see that, but he went further. He said that the orange took up the majority of the canvas because we remember more and live more during the day, so it is bigger, and even though we sleep a lot, we don’t remember that part of our lives, so that is why the dark part covers less of the canvas. I could go on with other examples of zen, autumn, war, hope, despair…but there isn’t time.

Their ideas have made me take another look at some of the artwork and have led to a new appreciation of the Clyfford Still Museum. Plus, it has been wild to combine my two worlds of art history and evaluation.

Hot Tip: It’s okay to live in the moment and enjoy what you are observing. I know that as an evaluator, I am there to document certain aspects of the tour and the interaction between the students and gallery teachers. However, I have totally enjoyed listening to the kids during my observations. I’ve even gone back through the galleries at the end of a tour to take a new look at an old painting.

Rad Resource: For additional great modern and contemporary art when you’re in Denver (all are close to the Colorado Convention Center), visit Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver Art Museum, Kirkland Museum and our great public art program, which includes mustangs, bears and brooms!

We’re thinking forward to October and the Evaluation 2014 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). Registration will soon be open! Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to

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