May 17 – June 8, 2015
Art Students Cross Boundaries at the
Tears, laughter, joy, enthusiasm, friendship, and inspiration filled the halls of the James A. Michener Art Museum on May 17. Almost 100 students and parents from Titus Elementary School in Central Bucks, Pennwood Middle School in Pennsbury, and Kensington Health Sciences Academy in Philadelphia gathered in celebration of the arts, culture, identity, and self-reflection as part of the Michener’s Crossing Boundaries: Making Art outreach program.
Crossing Boundaries: Making Art is a collaboration of three diverse communities of learners working with art teachers Stephani Thomas, Megan Miller and Robin Lane. The 80 students who participated in this program worked at their home schools creating mixed media works incorporating mirrors, photography, fabric, artifacts, and found objects. Students were inspired by four artists whose work incorporates themes of identity and self-reflection: Amalia Amaki, who explores African American life and culture through the use of photography; Faith Ringold, whose story quilts and figural compositions focus on themes of racial conflict and slavery; Mexican painter Frida Kahlo who is best known for her intriguing self-portraits; and Philadelphia artist Toni Kersey who explores themes of self-identity and the African diaspora in her own mixed media work.
Students and families met at the Michener Art Museum on Sunday May 17 for a day long celebration of the project. They engaged in group conversations and collages, listened to guest artist Toni Kersey talk about her life and work, shared lunch, engaged in Museum tours led by Michener docents, and gathered in the Education Gallery for a celebratory reception.
Through their artwork, student artists were encouraged to reflect upon a sense of place, depict their home and school environments, and share life experiences, personal history, interests, memories, dreams, passions, family, friends, and relationships. In addition, students wrote reflective essays, which help inform the images they created. The creative process provided students with the opportunity to explore the enduring questions “Where do I come from? Where am I going? What will I do when I get there?”
The exhibition clearly reflects the creative journeys of art students who took their time to connect to their identity and share it with others. Sixth grader Owen Campbell from Titus Elementary School used the creative process to make discoveries about the importance of building meaningful friendships. “Friends can change your opinions on certain things, give you joy or even sadness, and so much more than just that. This whole project was a really great experience.” Cailey Hanf, an eighth grade student from Pennwood Middle School found this collaboration to be inspiring. “As of late, most kids would rather be inside with an electronic device, letting their imagination and creativity rot away. I hope that when I use my talent to create I will inspire, and that’s what I’m trying to do now.” Tyler Stone-Harrington from the Kensington Health Sciences Academy used this creative opportunity to respond to the death of his 19-year-old brother in a piece called Tribute. “Fatz was a dad, a big brother, and a free spirit. He was connected not only to our neighborhood, but to everywhere… I won’t ever forget him.”
The program had an impact on adults as well. Art teacher Robin Lane loved working with her students on this mixed media collaboration. “Many of my Kensington art students are hesitant and do not want to take risks while creating works of art. This identity project gave me the perfect forum to encourage every student to take artistic chances, to climb out of their creative boxes and share a part of themselves with the world.” Megan Miller, art teacher from Pennwood, noted that her parents were also moved by the experience. “The day long gathering at the Michener definitely moved the parents. Many of them expressed that they had no idea about the hopes, dreams, and thoughts their children could engage in, when given the time and space and guidance to work thought identity and leadership activities. They did not realize how much you can learn, by looking at and making art.” Titus art teacher Stephani Thomas noted, “I have known many of these students for several years, but through this project they were able to expose a side of themselves and communicate their inner dreams and joys and sorrows in a way that is not possible in the rigors of a regular art classroom.” Titus Elementary principal Stephen Cashman agreed. “I spend five days a week with these kids in my school hallways, and when I read about the thoughts and ideas expressed in their essays, I just had no idea. This gives me a lot of insight into another side of my students. It is amazing. I feel very lucky that our school had the opportunity to participate in this wonderful program.” Guest artist Toni Kersey was teary eyed when she walked into the Crossing Boundaries: Making Art exhibition for the first time. “I was behind this project as soon as the Michener invited me to get involved. Art is all about community, and making art is a continual process of reflecting on the choices that you have made throughout your life. I am humbled by the quality of student work, and their insights and inspirations.”
Ruth Anderson, Michener Director of Youth and Family Programs and Crossing Boundaries project Coordinator was moved by the collaboration. “The excitement of hanging the exhibition, of carefully taking the student artwork out of boxes and getting a chance to study them, piece by piece, was really inspiring. The exhibition is a rare glimpse into the challenges faced and opportunities afforded for young people living in three very different communities. We see the innate qualities of youth – resilience, spirit, promise, invention, and hope – crossing boundaries.”
Jazlynn Alex from Titus Elementary used the words of French Impressionist artist Edgar Degas as an inspiration for her collage. She quoted, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Clearly, Crossing Boundaries will help the Michener community see deeply into the lives of its children.
The Crossing Boundaries: Making Art program was made possible by sponsorship from Foundations Community Partnership, Partnership in Youth Services Program, and by the Victory Foundation. The exhibition is free and open to the public seven days a week during Museum hours. The Michener Art Museum is located at 138 South Pine Street in Doylestown. Scholarships are available for all youth art programs.
Crossing Boundaries: Making Art / Youth and Family Arts Outreach Program is sponsored by Foundations Community Partnership, Partnership in Youth Services Program and by The Victory Foundation.
All Michener Education Gallery exhibitions and events are sponsored by:
Lead Sponsor: First Savings: Banking - Insurance - Investments
Sponsors: FACT Bucks County, Morrie Breyer & Michael Mamp
» View the full exhibition schedule