Works by three students who participate in the Art After School program at the Toledo Museum of Art are being shown this spring in a national art exhibition in Washington, D.C., that recognizes innovative educational programming from across the nation.
Museums: pARTners in Learning 2015, sponsored by the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, has selected student artworks from 16 AAMD member museums for display.
“We are honored to have been chosen for our efforts to promote visual literacy through our Art After School program,” said Brian Kennedy, director of the Toledo Museum of Art.
The exhibit, on view May 6-June 30 at the U.S. Department of Education, celebrates new developments in art education that foster creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, cultural awareness and collaboration. The exhibit showcases the remarkable achievements of K-12 students and underscores the wide range of interdisciplinary skills students can acquire through art education, as well as how direct engagement with the arts supports student learning and personal growth.
The Toledo Museum of Art has been at the forefront of incorporating instruction in critical thinking and creativity through teaching visual literacy. Art After School class instructors use games, activities and discussions to encourage students to look closer at works of art and interpret the meaning of images from those observations. Subsequent art studio projects relate to the gallery experiences as students respond to what they have seen.
By working with partners such as ASK Urban Impact, Walbridge All-Stars and Boys and Girls Club of Toledo, the Museum is able to serve almost 2,000 underprivileged children annually.
“It is with the generous support we currently have from The David C. and Lura M. Lovell Foundation, BP and other local foundations that the Museum can continue to be a positive force in the lives of underserved youth,” Kennedy said, adding, “The support of these community-focused organizations enable us to even provide free transportation for local children’s services organizations to bring students to the Museum.”
Art After School gives children experiences that can often be life changing and open new doors for learning and achievement later in life, according to Mike Deetsch, the Museum’s interim Emma Leah Bippus director of education. Effective programs like this give young people the opportunity to make positive decisions, help them stay out of trouble and keep them on the road to present and future success.
“The role we’re playing in the lives of young people in this city is really important. The fact that the AAMD and U.S. Department of Education are recognizing us speaks highly of our efforts in art education and as a museum,” Deetsch said.
Toledo student artworks in the Washington exhibition include a rendering of TMA’s first acquisition, an Egyptian mummified cat, in chalk pastels on a black background by 10-year-old Genevieve from the Walbridge All-Stars. She, along with others in her group, were encouraged to take their drawings back to the studio to add an imaginary setting for their subject.
Serina, from the ASK Urban Impact program, used construction paper and paints to create her “catsterpiece” depiction of a cat. This project was inspired by Roy Lichtenstein’s use of primary colors in his “Bull Series” lithographs.
The third work chosen for the exhibition is by Cetrionna, a 12-year-old student from the former Caldwell Community Center. Cetrionna used mixed media print-making to create fantasy birds. Her work was inspired by the Museum’s exhibition In Fine Feather, which coincided last spring with the Greatest Week in American Birding.
“Museums are an invaluable resource in complementing our schools’ curricula by offering access to cultural content and fostering the creativity and innovation young people need to be successful in the 21st century,” said Chris Anagnos, executive director of AAMD. “We are excited to partner with the Department of Education once again to tell the story of how schools and museums are working together to enrich the quality of education in new ways.”
AAMD’s 242 members serve more than 40,000 public, private, charter and home schools each year. The U.S. Department of Education’s Student Art Exhibit Program is now in its 12th year.