Educating Artists

By Julia Einstein
Coordinator of Youth and Family Programs, Portland Museum of Art

As a result of looking at programs and special events for families in a new way, from the perspective of an artist, I am thrilled to be working on a new collaborative project between art educators—myself here at the Museum and Gail Spaien at Maine College of Art—with the aim to bring young artist’s studios outside and into the Museum (and vice versa). Our objective is to give Museum visitors and our family audience the opportunity to see the creative process at work…to make the process visible. And, Gail and I share an interest in making connections between learning, making, and teaching art.

I am excited to build on the energy of emerging artists in our community, and especially, those who are immersed in learning how to become an artist. Gail selected four of her senior painting students, Maggie Muth, Nikki Stroumbos, Meghan Gervasio, and Hannah Godbey based upon the strength of their studio work and their aptitude for teaching. They will design a Museum education event for families over the course of several inspiration-gathering trips to the Museum’s permanent collection galleries. In between these trips, these inspirations will make their way into ideas each student is working out in their studio. Most exciting is the opportunity to ask: What is unique in the experience of an artist looking at art?

Last week I had the pleasure of getting to know the students as we held our first meeting in the Museum galleries. This week, the students returned, with sketchbooks in hand, to re-visit the galleries and be inspired as they looked longer and sketched and noted their responses to the following:

What do you see?
What would you like to show someone?
What is it about—what is the idea behind it?
How can you explore this idea through your art making?
How can you help someone discover it?

Next, I look forward to making a visit to the MECA studios to see where the inspiration from the Museum enters into their art-making. Together with Gail, we’ll talk about how to develop these ideas into a fun learning experience for families as we create a February vacation Museum event. Stay tuned for future postings on our project!

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