First ArtReach Program of the Year!

 In MPA News

Wednesday, January 20th

Despite the arctic temperatures, today the gallery is warm and inviting as we eagerly await the arrival of 46 4th graders from Belvedere Elementary School. These students are the first ArtReach participants of the year and we can’t wait to get started!

ArtReach is McLean Project for the Arts’ highly successful annual educational outreach program for local preschool, elementary, middle, and high school students, as well as senior citizens. ArtReach programs include docent-led tours of exhibitions, after-school workshops, in-school lectures and classroom art projects, art installation workshops, program with teens at the Teen Center in McLean, parent-child workshops, and programs for students with special needs.

Months of planning and hard work by our ArtReach Director, Sharon Fishel, and our Director of Education Programs, Christina Girardi, will finally pay off. Sharon Fishel’s favorite aspect of ArtReach is “getting to work as a team with other staff members to research and design new programming based on exciting topics in our galleries.” Christina Giraridi is especially excited to “fill the gallery with kids who may have never been in a contemporary art gallery before and to share that experience with them.” By the end of this school year, thousands of students will have joined us in our MPA galleries for innovative arts programming.

It’s 11 o’clock and the students and their teachers have arrived. It’s time to begin!

Today’s ArtReach programming centers on the theme that ties together all of our current exhibitions: books. In the Ramp Gallery, students encounter works of “Les Fleur de Livre: Works by Carol Barsha.” These large works of watercolor, ink, and pastel, playfully explore the role of the book as an entryway into the world, especially through nature.DSCN3568

In the Atrium Gallery, Christina Girardi encourages the students to outline their own stories prompted by the themes of story telling and memory portrayed in the exhibit, “Hushed Revolt: Works by Nasrin Navab and Nahid Navab.”

In the Emerson Gallery, where “Absence and Presence: Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here” is on display, students select their favorite piece of work, draw a simple sketch, and write one word that describes the piece. The discussion that follows is especially poignant for a group of elementary school students. Inspired by their own personal stories and experiences, these students share complex interpretations of the power expression. To them, books represent knowledge, imagination, and freedom. It is clear these students are not afraid to dive into profound topics. Two students even share their knowledge of Arabic with the group and help translate a few phrases. After much discussion, students put their creativity to work constructing miniature books with designs as varied as the books in the exhibits.

Time flies and now the students must return to school with their new ideas about expression and their homemade books in hand. If the first day of ArtReach is any indication of the what’s to come, then we can continue to expect much more learning and creativity in our galleries this year.

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