For over ten years I’ve had the pleasure of partnering with Amie Robinson, the art teacher at PS77 in Brooklyn New York and her students as part of The Museum of Modern Art’s Community and Access education team. (PS77 is a public school in Brooklyn NY for middle and high school aged students diagnosed on the autism spectrum.)
Though every single year we have partnered has been a revelation, I’d like to highlight 2015:
For this seven week program we focused on two exhibitions about artists who use their studio space as an integral part of their art-making practice- their studios become the ground for a kind of “world” they create and inhabit. In particular we focused on Matisse’s cut-paper collages which filled the walls of his home in Nice, and the work of a contemporary artist Daniel Gordon, who makes life size, three dimensional collages out of found images.
A number of things happened as a result of our encounters at MoMA: the students were now familiar with the idea of a kind of “manipulated” reality- they had explored images that transform everyday objects into something surreal and expressive, there was a spirit of play and experimentation in the air rooted in something familiar, personal and communal. Back at the school we collectively decided to build a life size, three dimensional kitchen still life from found images:
- Three classes participated in the construction of the final art piece; every student participated in both the conception and creation of the project individually and at times communally, it spread across their school day and involved their classroom teacher, their computer teacher and their art teacher.
- Every one of our sessions built upon previous investigations as we moved from the concrete to the abstract.
- When the kitchen still life was complete, we lit it with studio lights, set up a camera and a tripod, and invited the students to take turns interacting with the set by both directing the scenarios within the set, and being the performers- they were both behind and in front of the lens if they wished. The final series of images blur the boundary between fiction and reality.
For more information, check out the PS77 Brooklyn Art News Blog.