SchoolArts Magazine

May-June 2015

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Page 16 of 54

M U S E U M M U S I N G S Experiential Exposures 12 SchoolArts Continued on page 37. H elping young art- ists make a con- scious connection between what they are doing in the art- room and what exists in the world around them can be challenging. Art museums are the perfect resource for bridging this gap. For fifteen years, the Visions program at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) in Scottsdale, Arizona, has been bringing together high- school students, practicing artists, and curators to par- ticipate in the community of artistic practice. Students are afforded the oppor- tunity to meet and learn from locally, nationally, and internationally known professional artists. They learn about the galleries, museums, and the people who guard and open gates, including museum curators, gallery owners, and other artists. F ive key ideas form the basis of this collaboration: art worlds define art, enable art-making, reveal mean- ing, function in society, and offer support to young artists. Experiential Learning Students from six high schools in diverse communities in the Phoenix metropolitan area participate in the program each year. Students meet monthly during the school year for the ten-session museum program, which includes a three-day retreat attended by professional art- ists. All students meet as a large group and in subgroups focused on sculp- ture, photography, or painting. Most meetings are held at the museum and include artist presentations and artist- led workshops, exhibition tours, and gallery activities. Artist studio visits are also part of the program. Students view all of the exhibitions that are on view within the program year and learn about the artwork and artists from curator- led tours and gallery activities. They are asked to consciously, and with intention, seek inspiration from the artists and artworks to which they are "exposed" in the Visions program. In Studio Thinking 2: The Real Benefits of a Visual Arts Education, the authors propose that "art- ists and artworks always respond to works that have come before, consciously or not." From the begin- ning, students know they will be expected to use the work of one of the artists they meet in the program as a springboard for their own art, which keeps them especially motivated to ask questions and write responses and reflections in their Visions journals. Each year culminates in an exhibition of students' artwork. In 2013–2014, the title of the exhibition was Exposure. Students created artworks for the exhibition that were influenced by the artists they had workshops with or had learned about in exhibitions during the year. Educator Reflection Between the retreat, museum sessions, and stu- dio visits, students worked with their own art teachers (who attended all events) to develop and create their own artworks and artist statements. Erik Erspamer, a participating art teacher from South Mountain High School in Phoenix, described his perspective of the pro- gram this way: Once my students returned to school, they actively communicated with their Visions peers in class discus- sions and through social media. Students used exercises from their journals to help document their expe- riences and focus their discussions. Museum staff and artists helped students and teachers to identify the Laura Hales and Mary Erickson Students meet and learn from locally, nationally, and internationally known professional artists. Tamaki Matsumoto, Niko, 2014. Oil on panel. Photo by Laura Hales.

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