Every student visits the Whitney at least once while they are studying at West Side Collaborative. All programs are designed with the teachers, which include an in-person meeting to plan the program and an evaluation conversation with the Museum educator at the completion of the program.
In May 2012, seventh and eighth graders from West Side Collaborative Middle School participated in a Whitney Studio Collaborative, and were one of the first groups of students to use the new Whitney Studio. The three-part program was based on the theme of Artist as Experimenter and focused on artists who experiment with color.
On their first visit to the Museum, students explored two exhibitions, Singular Visions and Whitney Biennial 2012. They learned about the color wheel and color properties, and saw how artists such as Kai Altoff, Lee Krasner, and Andrew Massulo use color to draw in the viewer and unite various elements of their work. Following up on these discussions, WSC students came back to the Museum for two extended hands-on sessions in the Whitney Studio. Instead of paint, the Museum educator challenged students to explore new ways of mixing and blending colors using colored sand and Model Magic clay. The final artwork was a collective collage inspired by Krasner’s abstractions, Massulo’s non-objective shapes, and Altoff’s use of pattern.
During the fall 2010 semester, all sixth- and seventh-grade students immersed themselves in the world of Edward Hopper and his contemporaries. They explored the ways that these artists told stories about themselves and the world around them through their art. This multi-part program encouraged students to connect their art and English Language Arts curriculum and use their imagination to create and develop their own narratives for the works on view.
After reading poetry inspired by Hopper’s paintings, students visited the exhibition Modern Life: Edward Hopper and His Time. Through close looking, conversations, and activities, students deepened their understanding of the various techniques artists use to tell a story through their work. In one activity, students were also divided into small groups and challenged with the task of extending the narrative implied by Hopper. They then posed in tableau that told what happened before or after the scene in the painting.
For their final project, students wrote poems and short stories that responded to their favorite work on view. They also created a book cover image to go with their story, which captured the moment of their story they felt was most important.
Over the course of ten weeks (September-November), all sixth- and seventh-grade students explored the life and works of Georgia O’Keeffe, examining her inspirations, artistic processes, and materials. Led by a Museum educator, this multi-part program challenged students to consider different ways of creating abstract art. Students also experimented with watercolor and charcoal, which was a new and exciting experience for many of them. Additionally, students wrote responses to O’Keeffe’s art and reflected upon their own artistic journey through writing.
Students then visited the exhibition, Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction. Through close looking, conversations, and activities in the galleries during the guided visit, students deepened and enriched their understanding of O’Keeffe’s life and art. This experience built upon classroom learning and provided the opportunity for students to finally see the “real thing!” They were also given time after the guided visit to view the exhibition on their own. During this independent viewing time, students were asked to take a few minutes to write about their experience—new information they learned about O’Keeffe and her art, and new ideas inspired by viewing the works.
For their final project, students created their own abstract work that reflected their thoughts and feelings towards a significant person, place, or event in their lives. Students also wrote artist statements to accompany their abstractions.