Art Education Program News: Winter 2012

On a Saturday in early February the Joan Mitchell Foundation and Brooklyn Preparatory High School presented the third annual Careers in the Arts Fair. This year the fair attracted 147 students from the Saturday Studios Program and 30 parents. Students ages 10 to 25 were able to explore various careers in the visual arts through workshops that included Fashion Design, Film, Animation, Comics, Illustration, Graphic Design, Advertising, and Photography. Students had the opportunity to meet successful creative professionals and try hands-on activities that served as exciting introductions to the different artistic fields. In one of the fashion workshops, Luis Peralta, an alum of the JMF Saturday Studios Program, invited participants to design a haute couture piece inspired by modern and contemporary architecture.

During the fair students were also able to schedule a portfolio review with Pratt Institute, Pace University, or The College of New Rochelle. One senior, Joseph Gonzalez, a JMF jumpstART student, met with Michael Barry from Pratt Institute. Barry was so impressed with Joseph's portfolio that he encouraged him to apply immediately to Pratt, giving him a deadline extension. The portfolio reviews proved to be a wonderful opportunity for students to gain insight into the art college application process, putting them a step ahead of many high school students.

A Visit With The jumpstART Program

Since 2008 the Joan Mitchell Foundation has partnered with the CUE Foundation to run an intensive portfolio development course for high school juniors and seniors. The jumpstART program meets every Wednesday evening and Saturday afternoon throughout the school year, allowing students to explore new materials and techniques while building their portfolios. In the winter students begin developing a significant art project of their choosing that they will later curate and install in a group exhibition at the CUE Foundation in the spring.

During a Saturday class in February jumpstART students were embarking on "The Impossible Project". Two Artist-Teachers, Dave Bratton and Catherine Czacki, gave their students a mission to make something from life that is impossible, possible! Their project could take any form and be created using any material. Malikah Mahone was inspired by artist Jason Lazaras' Impossible Art Ideas project, through which he wanted to "harness heartbreak into an energy source." Malikah was in the planning stages, sketching out how she wanted to use a mannequin, cut out a space in its chest and suspend a heart sculpture inside. When asked about her future plans Malikah indicted that she was interested in curatorial studies. This past summer JMF helped her land a job at Groundswell Community Mural Project where she was a part of the Summer Leadership Institute. Malikah proudly explained that the jeans she was wearing, which were covered in paint, were the ones she wore while mural painting this summer. "People compliment me on these pants every time I wear them!"

Studio Visit With Diana Al-Hadid

Since 1993 the Painters and Sculptors Grant Program through the Joan Mitchell Foundation has awarded artists who are underrepresented in their fields grants to help assist them in their practice. The foundation awards $25,000 annually to 25 artists selected through a nomination process. This December the Foundation announced the grant recipients for 2011. One of this year's recipients, Diana Al-Hadid, was once an Artist-Teacher for the Foundation. Her experience as a teacher has been invaluable to studio practice because she has been able to see immeasurable strengths unique to each of her assistants similar to the way she was able to notice each of her student's individual abilities.

A sculptor, Al-Hadid works at her studio in Brooklyn, NY. Recently she has been able to take down a wall in her building, increasing her work space significantly and allowing her to work on more projects simultaneously. During a busy afternoon in February the PBS program Art21 was filming in the studio for a new web series, New York Close Up, and Al-Hadid's studio assistants were perched throughout the space hard at work on various pieces. Al-Hadid had just returned from installing a solo exhibition at the Visual Arts Center at the University of Texas in Austin where she had been a visiting artist for the month of January. During the studio visit Al-Hadid was creating a unique bust - a blind self-portrait using plasticine on a gypsum form. Al-Hadid placed the bust inside of a box with a curtain covering the opening in such a way that she could reach inside to sculpt the form but could not actually see what she was working on. When asked why she chose to sculpt in this way, she answered: "Our face is the only part of our bodies that we can't see without looking in the mirror." For more information about Al-Hadid's work and to see her artist bio, visit her website.

Winter Artist-Teacher Conference

In January Artist-Teachers met for their second Artist-Teacher Conference (ATC) of the school-year. At the fall ATC, Artist-Teachers were given the challenge of incorporating four of the eight dispositions from Studio Habits of Mind (SHoM), an arts-centered theory of teaching developed by Project Zero at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, into their fall curricula. Artist-Teachers documented examples of students exercising the SHoM dispositions in their classrooms through photographs and writing. The eight SHoM dispositions include Observation, Engage and Persist, Stretch and Explore, Envision, Understand the Art World, Develop Craft, Express and Reflect.

At the winter ATC Artist-Teachers presented their examples of the SHoM being practiced in their classrooms through small group discussions. Artist-Teachers were met with a new challenge: How could they introduce SHoM to their students directly?

During the winter term Artist-Teachers chose one disposition to introduce to their students. Andres Laracuente and Antonia Perez chose Stretch and Explore for their Kindergarten and Second Grade students at Jacob A. Riis Settlement in Long Island City, Queens. Students had been working on large landscape collages for a few weeks and were beginning to indicate that they needed to move on. Andres and Antonia thought that instead of beginning a completely new project students could Stretch their capacity for developing a long-term project and Explore new possibilities for their landscape collages. Students added color pencil to their collages, filling white spaces on their work with color and new elements of landscape such as trees, birds, rocks and shells. Each student was aware that they were being asked to explore a new possibility for their artwork to stretch their ability to keep working on their projects. Some students took this opportunity to alter their work. Two students opted to work collaboratively, combining their cityscapes together to make a mural collage. Another student decided to transform his park landscape into a beach scene. When asked about their work the majority of students were able to discuss their process thus far and were able to distinguish that they were now exploring new materials and the use of new imagery.

Family Art Nights

In February and March the Joan Mitchell Foundation and St. Nick's Alliance hosted Family Art Nights at all of the St. Nick's sites. During these events both community partners collaborated to facilitate art-making workshops with parents and students led by Artist-Teachers from each site.

Family Art Nights have been extremely successful. They have provided a platform for parents to connect and engage with their children through the arts and to understand how art-making supports important cognitive development. One site, P.S. 19, had over 80 participants and recieved very positive responses from parents. When asked what they had learned from the workshop, one parent responded, "I'm going to do this with my family!" At Greenpoint Beacon one parent responded, "this experience was therapy after a stressful week!" At PS 132 Artist-Teacher, Denise Schatz has organized two Family Art Nights because the first one on February 1st was such a success.

"On February 1st we made drawings of imaginary trees based on the work of Dr. Seuss and on March 7th we made animal collages, a project which was an extension of our research into the work of the sculptor Amanda Crowe. Young artists and their parents collaborated on a piece working side by side with other families in the cafeteria. Everyone shared materials and exchanged ideas. It was a great to chance for parents to interact with and learn from their children as well as to meet other families and get to know the St. Nicks and JMF staff in a more festive setting." - Artist-Teacher Denise Schatz

Exhibition at Goddard Riverside

On the evening of December 12th, 2011, the Joan Mitchell Foundation and Goddard Riverside presented the artwork of our talented Saturday Studios students grades 6-12. Students worked throughout the fall term on their projects for this exhibition, which included mixed-media sculptures, collages, and drawings.

The opening included a talk about Joan Mitchell's artistic career given by JMF Archivist, Jen Dohne. Attendees, including students, parents, Artist-Teachers and Goddard Riverside community members, were able gain more knowledge about Joan Mitchell's work and life through this presentation. This event aimed to bring the Joan Mitchell Foundation closer to one of its longtime community partners, connecting Saturday Studio students and their families to the legacy of Joan Mitchell.

Peer-Led Workshops

On a January evening Artist-Teacher Molly Herman led the second Visual Thinking Strategies Workshop, which was a follow-up to the first VTS workshop that was held in the Fall. VTS is a research-based teaching method where participants strengthen critical thinking capacities, language skills, and observational abilities through learner-led discussions of visual imagery. During this workshop Herman discussed best practices for facilitating VTS discussions with students. The Artist-Teacher participants had the opportunity to try out these practices through a VTS discussion themselves, an activity that proved to be both fun and extremely helpful.

Towards the end of January Artist-Teachers came together to learn better methods for implementing student reflection in their classrooms. Saul Chernick, the Professional Development Program Coordinator at the Joan Mitchell Foundation, led this Reflection Workshop, helping Artist-Teachers to understand the importance and necessity of frequent student reflection. Workshop participants decided that the goals for reflection included students' ability to discuss art by other artists, recognize their own work process, and gain the ability to answer questions about or discuss their own work. In order to reach these goals workshop participants discussed different forms of reflection that worked well in their classrooms and what made them successful. Artist-Teachers were able to exchange ideas for learner-led reflection activities, such as writing, presentation, turn and talk, gallery walks, and journaling.

JMF Artist-Teacher Lael Marshall led a Soap Sculpture Workshop at University Settlement on the Lower East Side. Marshall began with a slide show presenting soap sculpture projects her students of all ages have made in the past, including insects and cameras. After demonstrating soap sculpture techniques such as carving, adding objects to the soap, attaching pieces using a slip and painting, workshop participants had the opportunity to make their own camera sculptures. During a workshop reflection participants shared their cameras, which were all incredibly unique. Because the possibilities of soap as a medium are so vast, Marshall explained, students may begin with the same bar of soap and the shared goal of making the same type of object, but in the end all of their sculptures will turn out immensely different from one another.

AEP Winter Calendar


Mar 6 / 6:30pm
PD Field Trip Workshop

Mar 3 / 5:00pm
Jacob A Riis Multicultural Fair

Mar 8 / 7:00pm
Artist as Examiner at The Whitney Museum of Art

Mar 15 / 6:30pm
SOS Figure Drawing

Mar 21 / 6:30pm
PD Art Project Peer Share

Mar 28 / 5:30pm
St. Nicks All Sites Show Opening

Mar 24 / 11:30am
Last Day of Saturday Studio Winter Session

Mar 31 / 9:00am
Spring ATC


Apr 3 / 5:30
St. Nicks All Sites Show Closing Party

Apr 10 / 6:30pm
PD Lesson Planning Workshop

Apr 14 / 11:30am
Saturday Studio Spring Session Begins

Apr 25 / 6:30
PD Social Justice Reading Group

Apr 26 / 4:30pm
SOS Figure Drawing

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