|Kevin Li, third grade, Mosaic Preparatory School. Teaching artist:
Lindsay Smilow. Classroom teacher: Andrea Cooper. Photo: Kristopher
© Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
A Year with Children is an annual exhibition that presents art by students participating in the Guggenheim’s Learning Through Art (LTA) program. Originally conceived as Learning to Read Through the Arts, the program was founded in 1970 by Natalie Kovner Lieberman in response to the elimination of art and music programs in New York City public schools. LTA has encouraged curiosity, critical thinking, and collaborative investigation at the museum, in the classroom, and beyond, serving nearly 150,000 children. In the 2017–18 school year, thirteen teaching artists facilitated sixteen residencies in eleven New York City public schools, working closely with classroom teachers to develop projects that promote visual literacy while exploring and making connections with ideas and themes related to the school’s curriculum.
LTA immerses students in the creative process, prompting them to view themselves as artists. At the start of the academic year, each student is given a sketchbook and an artist’s apron, imbuing a sense of ownership over their work. Throughout the program, teaching artists demonstrate practices and explorations similar to those that they use to spark their own creativity. Students’ investigations are also inspired by the Guggenheim exhibitions they visit during the school year. This year, these included Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, a survey of contemporary art from China spanning 1989 to 2008; Josef Albers in Mexico, illuminating the relationship between the forms and design of pre-Columbian architecture and the art of Josef Albers; and Danh Vo: Take My Breath Away, a presentation of work by Danh Vo, who uses personal narratives and varied mediums to address themes such as religion, capitalism, and artistic authorship. Students also studied modernist artworks on view from the Thannhauser Collection and an exhibition of sculptures by Constantin Brancusi. When viewing art, students participate in inquiry-based discussions that elicit careful observation and interpretation.
The participating schools are: in the Bronx, PS 86 (Kingsbridge Heights); in Brooklyn, PS 8 (Brooklyn Heights) and PS 9 (Prospect Heights); in Manhattan, PS 28 (Washington Heights), PS 38 and PS 375/Mosaic Preparatory Academy (East Harlem); in Queens, PS 88 (Ridgewood), PS 130 (Bayside), PS 144 (Rego Park), and PS 317 (Rockaway Park); and in Staten Island, PS 48 (Grasmere).
A Year with Children 2018 features select projects by student artists who worked throughout the year to explore materials and techniques, develop personal sketchbooks, and express their unique perspectives. To guide the yearlong curriculum, classroom teachers and teaching artists used “essential questions” such as “How do our small actions result in big changes?” These questions, linked to themes that were personally meaningful to students, were explored by looking at and making art.
LTA considers the classroom a learning lab where the power of arts integration and creative thinking can encourage the production of inspiring and technically impressive works of student art. Teaching artists used multimodal approaches to teach process and technique, incorporating text, music, games, and collaboration. By understanding the foundations of art, students were able to explore a wide variety of mediums, both traditional and experimental, and try out different approaches to problem solving.
A Year with Children 2018 is organized by Greer Kudon, Associate Director, Learning Through Art; Emmy Goldin, Associate Manager; Amy Boyle, Associate Manager; and Lara Tootleman, Education Coordinator.
Kim Kanatani, Deputy Director and Gail Engelberg Director of Education at the Guggenheim, commented, “For nearly fifty years, the Learning Through Art program has provided high-quality visual arts education that supports the curriculum and fosters individual expression and skill-based learning. We are pleased to continue our longstanding relationship with several New York City public schools, while continuing to forge bonds with others in diverse communities throughout the city.”
The Evolution of Me, PS 88, Queens
Third grade; teaching artist: Laura Kelly
Student artists at PS 88 in Ridgewood were presented with the question “Can artists change things that seem ‘permanent’ or ‘finished?’” They viewed and discussed artistic styles and approaches to representation while studying examples of self-portraiture by Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, and Frida Kahlo. Studying the proportions of the face and looking at themselves in mirrors, students produced their own series of self-portraits by mixing a variety of mediums, including colored pencil, pastel, and foam-plate printmaking. For their final project, students will collage multiple self-portraits into one work that will provide them with an understanding of how artists continually revise and revisit “completed” works.
Hanging in the Balance, PS 86, Bronx
Sixth grade; teaching artist: Jeff Hopkins
At PS 86 in the Bronx, sixth graders explored how one small event or circumstance might have a big effect. The student artists wrote and sketched stories in conjunction with their English language arts curriculum. They then translated their drawings and written statements into three-dimensional objects representing the central idea of their story. With materials such as wood, stone, papier-mâché, and found objects, students depicted characters, events, and other details. Then they used wire to connect them back to the central idea. Together, these elements form self-standing sculptures that are part mobile and part stabile.
Making Sense, PS 375, Manhattan
Third grade; teaching artist: Lindsay Smilow
Looking at work by an international selection artists, such as Lalla Essaydi, Kehinde Wiley, El Anatsui, and Ding Yi, third graders at PS 375 in East Harlem examined how art can help them make sense of the world as they explored different communities in their social studies curriculum. In particular, they investigated how these artists express aspects of both their cultural and individual identities through pattern, texture, and color. Using their own visual language made up of abstract shapes, personal symbols, and patterns, student artists expressed aspects of their own identities while learning painting, printmaking, sculpture, and installation techniques. In the process of doing so, they learned how to use art as a means of understanding their surroundings and experiences.
For more information about Learning Through Art, please visit https://www.guggenheim.org