Please wait

Working with Students

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.

Students work on a collective collage using colored sand and Model Magic clay in the Whitney Studio, May 2012. Photograph by Lisa Libicki

Students work on a collective collage using colored sand and Model Magic clay in the Whitney Studio, May 2012. Photograph by Lisa Libicki

Artist as Experimenter: A Focus on Color

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.

Museum educator led students in a gallery discussion, 2010. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Museum educator led students in a gallery discussion, 2010. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Museum educator starts off a writing activity in the galleries, 2010. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Museum educator starts off a writing activity in the galleries, 2010. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Students asking questions in the galleries, 2010. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Students asking questions in the galleries, 2010. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Students work on an activity together, 2010. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Students work on an activity together, 2010. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke

Artist as Storyteller: Hopper and English Language Arts

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. 

In the classroom and at the museum

Each student “lived with” their O’Keeffe image for two weeks and wrote their responses to the work in their notebooks, 2009. Photograph by Erin Fitzgerald
Each student “lived with” their O’Keeffe image for two weeks and wrote their responses to the work in their notebooks, 2009. Photograph by Erin Fitzgerald
Students shared their responses about the O’Keeffe work they lived with, 2009. Photograph by Erin Fitzgerald
Students shared their responses about the O’Keeffe work they lived with, 2009. Photograph by Erin Fitzgerald
Led by a Museum educator, students explored and discussed some of the ideas and concepts of abstraction in O’Keeffe’s work, 2009. Photograph by Erin Fitzgerald
Led by a Museum educator, students explored and discussed some of the ideas and concepts of abstraction in O’Keeffe’s work, 2009. Photograph by Erin Fitzgerald
Students held scissor at arm’s length and drew what they saw through the hole to create an abstracted drawing, 2009. Photograph by Erin Fitzgerald
Students held scissor at arm’s length and drew what they saw through the hole to create an abstracted drawing, 2009. Photograph by Erin Fitzgerald
Seventh grade student using a viewfinder in the gallery, 2009. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Seventh grade student using a viewfinder in the gallery, 2009. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Students eager to respond to the Museum educator’s question, 2009. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Students eager to respond to the Museum educator’s question, 2009. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Museum educator led students in a drawing activity in the gallery, 2009. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Museum educator led students in a drawing activity in the gallery, 2009. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Museum educator led students in a poetry writing activity in the gallery, 2009. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Museum educator led students in a poetry writing activity in the gallery, 2009. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Students had independent viewing time in the gallery after their guided visit, 2009. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Students had independent viewing time in the gallery after their guided visit, 2009. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Students experimented with charcoal in the classroom, 2009. Photograph by Erin Fitzgerald
Students experimented with charcoal in the classroom, 2009. Photograph by Erin Fitzgerald
Students experimented with water color in the classroom, 2009. Photograph by Erin Fitzgerald
Students experimented with water color in the classroom, 2009. Photograph by Erin Fitzgerald

Works by students

“I can see different colors when I hear a song on the radio.” Work by Catherine, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow
“I can see different colors when I hear a song on the radio.” Work by Catherine, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow
“I thought it would look better if it was done in charcoal and that painting inspired me to re-make it in charcoal.” Work by Christian, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow
“I thought it would look better if it was done in charcoal and that painting inspired me to re-make it in charcoal.” Work by Christian, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow
“If I were inside this painting, it would look like the earth had plunged into another ice age because the sun turned into a cold ball of death.” Work by Donjamin, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow
“If I were inside this painting, it would look like the earth had plunged into another ice age because the sun turned into a cold ball of death.” Work by Donjamin, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow
“I drew a dark black road to represent the road to my life. One side is dark and other side is light, and that represents the good and the bad things in my life.” Work by Joey, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow
“I drew a dark black road to represent the road to my life. One side is dark and other side is light, and that represents the good and the bad things in my life.” Work by Joey, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow
“The dawn of a new day could be strengthening or weakening for you.” Work by Abdue, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow
“The dawn of a new day could be strengthening or weakening for you.” Work by Abdue, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow
“Look into my sunglasses, what do you see?” Work by Emani, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow
“Look into my sunglasses, what do you see?” Work by Emani, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow
“Sometimes you don’t have to say that you are broken hearted.” Work by Kiarabel, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow
“Sometimes you don’t have to say that you are broken hearted.” Work by Kiarabel, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow
“Things never go as I planned, just like improvised music.” Work by Michelle, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow
“Things never go as I planned, just like improvised music.” Work by Michelle, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow
“Life is a cycle, not a cycle we like but a cycle we have to deal with.” Artwork by Victoria, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow
“Life is a cycle, not a cycle we like but a cycle we have to deal with.” Artwork by Victoria, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow

Expressing the Inexpressible: O’Keeffe and English Language Arts

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.