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Learning Communities Cross Boundaries in a Student Photography Exhibition at the Michener Art Museum

May 9, 2017

It was standing room only in the Ann and Herman Silverman Education Pavilion this past Sunday, May 7 when over 150 people gathered to celebrate the Crossing Boundaries: The Best Part of Me opening reception!

Crossing Boundaries: The Best Part of Me is a collaboration between Bucks County and Philadelphia youth and the Michener Art Museum. Participating schools include Pine Run Elementary School in the Central Bucks School District, Pennwood Middle School in the Pennsbury School District, the International Learning Program in Doylestown, and the LINC High School in Philadelphia. The exhibition features 115 large format photographs focused on student interpretations of the theme “the best part of me.” Student artwork is accompanied by personal statements, poetry, and videos, which further tell their stories and provide insights into their lives and personalities. The exhibition runs through May 28, and is free and open to the public.

“An exceptional exhibition rooted in outreach to diverse communities and students of all ages, all of whom have something wonderful to celebrate about their lives.”

Ruth Anderson, Director of Arts Education at the Michener

Inspired by the book The Best Part of Me by Wendy Ewald, third grade students from Pine Run Elementary worked with visual arts specialist Stephani Thomas to photograph their favorite part of their bodies. They combined art and poetry to celebrate their special place in the world. You can read about their eyes, used “to see colors in the wilderness,” their arms, used to “snuggle a teddy bear at night,” and fabulous freckles, which bring distinction to an already fantastic face.

Student artists in Pennwood Middle School’s afterschool art club worked on photographic portraits with art educator Megan Miller, featuring themselves in the favorite area of their school, which is currently under construction.  In some of the images, you will find fountains, ponds, crayon mosaics, brick walls, stairwells, keyboards, and rows of lockers. In all of them, you will find inspiration. Their poses inform the mood of the image, and their handwritten statements convey their talents, strengths, feelings, and their dreams for the future. Michael Hartman loves the library, where he can release “the stress of school and get lost in books.” Bekah Graber loves the art room, where her “inner sparkle shines.”

First generation Latino families from the International Learning Program in Doylestown worked with program director Rocio Higney and Michener Art Museum Arts Education staff to create posters describing the part of them that made them most proud. They were encouraged to think about things they loved, things they thought they could do well, and even their dreams for the future. Through the images, they share their dreams of becoming artists, teachers, bakers, professional athletes, and scientists.

The LINC is an open admission high school in North Philadelphia, where the focus of the curriculum is on “Learning in New Contexts.” LINC students worked with media educator Justin Deutsch to garner inspiration for the theme. Their self-portrait multi-media images present viewers with a celebration of student heritage, skills, passions, and interests. Each image reveals a part of their personal story and allows the viewer to learn more about their lives, their dreams, and the promise that the future holds for them. QR codes imbedded in many of the photographs lead viewers to videos and artist statements created by the students.

The Crossing Boundaries: The Best Part of Me exhibition is sponsored by the Leff Family Foundation. Programming in the Education Gallery is made possible by the lead sponsorship of Penn Community Bank. Additional sponsorship is provided by the Doris Weiss Education Gallery Endowment and FACT Bucks County, with in-kind support from Morrie Breyer & Michael Mamp.


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