Hands-on-Art: Experimentation and Collaboration

November 23, 2015 by

PB040244Every Fall, students from Kingston High School’s art program join us at the studios for our Art-in-Education program. The first group, from KHS’ Art & Chem class, were only with us for one day, but they immediately got some hands-on papermaking experience. The students worked with studio manager Chris Petrone to harvest ArtFarm fibers, practice fiber processing, and pull sheets of paper – all while learning about the chemistry of papermaking!

DSC_9209Some of those students returned over the next four weeks, joined by their peers in KHS’ Advanced Placement art program. During their time at WSW, the young artists rotated through our etching, silkscreen, and papermaking studios to push their artistic boundaries and experiment with new media and concepts. Three experienced teachers provided instruction, guidance, and encouragement: Cheyenne Mallo in papermaking, Pia Larsen in etching, and Arzu Mistry in silkscreen.

Arzu came to WSW with a question: How do young people start to develop their own artistic practice and what are the forces that fuel that development? During her Art-in-Education Artist’s Book Residency, she answers this question through her upcoming artist’s book, Unfolding Practice. “I feel that a lot of times in education, other people are telling you what to do,” Arzu says. “You do need guidance, but it then becomes difficult to start asking your own questions and begin developing your own practice.”

DSC_9090Arzu’s teaching philosophy during Art-in-Ed was pulled from a chapter from Unfolding Practice, “Exchange is Art.” In this chapter, she asks what students gain from mutual exchange. For so many students, “collaboration” is viewed as a bad word, often synonymous with conflict. In the classroom, Arzu steered clear of this word but still embraced a collaborative atmosphere. Each student created one silkscreen image, and those individual images became a vocabulary for the entire class, passed from student to student to create unique works from a pool of only five or so images. By the last day, the students were beginning to collaborate across classes and across groups, all on their own.

Enough commentary from us – let’s hear what the students had to say about their experiences in the studios!

Isabelle Simeh: “Instead of focusing on creating complete works, we were encouraged to experiment in each studio, which helped me find new ways to interact with each medium. I ended up with a lot of pieces that were very different from things I’ve done before, which is exciting.”

Katie Houston: “My experience was more complex and informative than I expected. Workshops I’ve been to in the past tended to be more simplified and less one-on-one.”

Morgan Volk: “I expected to do a lot less collaboration, as we don’t usually work like that in school. We got a lot of feedback, not only from our classmates, but also from professionals, making our work better and more elaborate. The four weeks in which we were at WSW was so rewarding. It changed my process of working, including my materials and mediums that I work with.”

Maddie Deforest: “My favorite part was working with the residents from different countries that were staying at WSW. Talking with them about their own projects was such a cool opportunity. It’s an awesome experience to be in a real art studio with real artists, that you can learn from and be inspired by.”

Charlotte Lloyd: “The experience was messier than I thought it would be, and that’s always fun for me.”  IMG_20151015_095206075_HDR

Join us in celebrating these talented young artists and their amazing work! An opening reception will be held Saturday, December 12th, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. at the Kirkland Hotel, RUPCO building. Their work will be on display until January 10th, 2016. Check out more photos from these students’ time at WSW on our Flickr.