City Art Lab: Thinking Bigger

This week marked the culminating session for the 3rd round of teaching artists as well as less tangible yet more significant milestone: the true self-direction of the City Art Lab students. Scroll down to read about how the teen artists have cohered as a group and are making collaborative work independent of the teaching artists.


The perception group collaborates on a 'visual letter' using chalk pastels

The perception group collaborates on a ‘visual letter’ using chalk pastels

Perception Group: Art Comes with a Message    

Teaching artists: Geraldine Javier and Marina Massaro

Brainstorming on the whiteboard (another enemy of chalk...?)

Brainstorming on the whiteboard (another enemy of chalk…?)

In preparation for their lesson on public artwork, Teaching Artists Marina and Geraldine came across and interesting dilemma: How can we encourage students to make work in public if it is illegal to do so?

They took an activist approach by encouraging the students to question the illegality of public chalk-ing. Through a class brainstorm session, the group decided to write a ‘visual letter’ to city officials stating their feelings on the ban on using chalk on city property.



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To recreate the experience of making public artwork  as best possible, the class took their chalking efforts outdoors and wrote out their visual letter on a large piece of sheetrock (the texture bears a resemblance to that of sidewalks and buildings). The teen artists worked collaboratively to create their message, giving each other critique, suggestions, and encouragement along the way. One student was overheard asking another, “If that person is behind bars, why do they have a smile on their face?” Several students weighed in on how they thought the figures should be represented, demonstrating a seriously democratic artmaking process!

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Value Group: Connecting with Your Cultural Heritage

Teaching Artists: Erica Vega and Adan Garcia

El Anatsui's Versatility (2006)

El Anatsui’s Versatility (2006)

This week in the Value studio, Adan introduced the group to the work of El Anatsui, highlighting the Ghanaian sculptor’s use of materials and cultural connections. Special attention was paid to the artist’s  monumental wall hangings as they served as a jumping-off point for the students’ art making. See more of Anatsui’s work at his one-man show Gravity and Grace, up now at The Brooklyn Museum until August 4th!

A unique twist on tape!

A unique twist on tape!

Inspired by Anatsui’s repeated use of manipulated found objects, students multiplied the watercolor and pastel symbols they’d started the previous week, cutting them out and ‘weaving’ them into nearly wall-sized sheets of clear plastic vinyl — no description can do these works justice!

Come to our opening exhibition on May 10th to see the finished products! See you at Gallery M (123 W. 135th St.) in Harlem from 5 – 7 pm!

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