West Catholic Prep was one of 11 area schools recently chosen to partner with The Philadelphia Art Museum through the “Art Futures” grant. “Art Futures” is an artist-in-residence program that pairs professional artists with art students and teachers at a school.
Here’s the way it works. Over the course of the multi-week program, the artist spends 30 hours with students and art teachers. The artist collaborates with the teachers to create a curriculum that builds upon the current classroom learning and exposes students to new ideas and techniques. The goal is to broaden students’ understanding of artmaking and art. They explore techniques and create their own personal works of art or work together towards a collaborative community art project. At the end of the program in April, there is an awards ceremony, an exhibit and both the students and their teacher receive one-year memberships to the Art Museum.
This exciting partnership began when Patricia Morgan, West Catholic Prep Fine Arts Department Chair, was accepted into the program in December of 2018. The “Art Futures” program seeks passionate art teachers, school administrations with interest and availability to host a resident artist, and a group of young student artists who are ready and willing to experiment and to learn and emulate the techniques of practicing artists.
Morgan felt that West Catholic Prep was a perfect fit for the program because of the dedication and drive of her students. “Applying for the grant is rewarding for the West Catholic Prep art program and our students. It motivates us to do more and provides students and myself with an opportunity to learn and grow from the experience.”
West Catholic Prep’s artist-in-residence is Kimberly Hall, a multi-disciplinary artist with experience in a number of art-making techniques. She teaches fine arts and design classes at the graduate school level at The Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and runs her own commercial illustration business. Kimberly works closely with Patricia Morgan on specific projects, hosting tours of the Philadelphia Museum, teaching students about career opportunities in the arts, and assisting students in exhibiting their work publicly.
For Kimberly, a standout feature of the program is the opportunity to take students to the art museum, thereby helping them to better connect with their own work. “The art museum visits allow the students to see how other artists approach their work and use materials and symbols in their work to explore their identities and feeling and share those things with an audience.”
Joseph Iacona, former “Art Futures” artist and Delphia Program Coordinator for the Philadelphia Art Museum, explains the value of the program. “There are many skills in artmaking and values that contemporary artists use in their practice. These include collaboration, willingness to experiment and push boundaries, and critical looking and thinking to name a few. These are all qualities that easily translate into other subject matters and, in fact, you will find are qualities that the greatest minds, in all disciplines, embody.”
Kaori Saunders, a West Catholic Prep junior, had never visited the art museum before “Art Futures” and felt that working with Kimberly Hall helped her to better understand artists’ work and to express herself through similar mediums. “I’ve learned to be detailed in my artwork,” she said. “Ms. Kim really takes her time, critiques our work, and gives us advice. She helps us to transform our work into something bigger than it was.”
The “Art Futures” awards ceremony and reception will take place on Monday, April 8 from 10 am-12 pm at The Philadelphia Art Museum. The exhibit runs from Monday, April 8 to Friday, May 10 and is open to the public from 9 am-5 pm Monday through Friday.