The Arts in Education
Young Artists Make Their Mark at the Noguchi Museum
“When someone walks through our doors, you know they’ve been motivated,” said Heather Brady, head of Education at the Isamu Noguchi Museum, an oasis tucked away in Long Island City, Queens. For eight New York City high school students who attended Making Your Mark, the Museum’s free four-week summer art program, the converted factory building encircling a garden served as a space for reaction and synthesis.
“Some of our students attend schools with developed art programs; for others, this was a rare opportunity,” said Brady, who came to the Museum as a freelance educator in 1999. (The program was first held in 2001.) She co-taught the summer session with Maryann Kranis, who is earning her Masters in Art and Art Education at Teachers College and interned at the Museum in the spring.
For the first three weeks of July, the young artists, most of whom had never visited the Museum before, experimented with a different material or medium each day, using Noguchi’s life and work as a jumping-off point. Noguchi (1904-1988), born in Los Angeles to an American mother and a Japanese father, was a versatile artist who sculpted, painted and designed furniture, sets and buildings. When the Museum opened in 1985, it housed only Noguchi’s work; it now hosts other exhibits, too, including the Making Your Mark group show (September 1 to 9).
In the program’s last week, each student proposed a final project and developed a three-day plan for it. “Maryann and I questioned: why this material, why this idea,” said Brady. Kranis called the studio setting “empowering.”
The artists spoke confidently about the curatorial decisions they had made. Justin Calder, a sophomore at North Rockland High School, rearranged his ink sketches of ships, to see if people would discern the actual order. Maria Kozanecka, a sophomore at the LaGuardia High School of Music, Art and Performing Arts, hung her abstract paintings in the gallery’s corner because she “wanted them to loom over the viewer. I wanted to create a sanctuary,” she said.
Vivian Ho, a senior at Benjamin Cardozo High School, was inspired by Noguchi’s sculptures to create one out of plaster: it contains a small pool of water. She enjoyed the daily “homework letters” that Brady and Kranis tailored to each student. The sketchbooks which contained the responses to these letters were also on display, along with all eight final projects and two additional pieces by each artist.
Carolina Fung Feng, a senior at St. Michael’s Academy in Manhattan, learned that you don’t have to follow your blueprint. “The newspaper collage is the only remaining part of my original idea,” she said, reaching up to run her fingers over the varying textures of her piece.
Kozanecka chose to portray Belgium, where she lived as a child, abstractly, because she only had memories of color and light. “I remembered chickens; I wanted toes mingling in the chickens’ feathers. I wanted to create a sense of touch between two things.”
Sybil Errazuriz, a sophomore at the Renaissance Charter School in Jackson Heights, dyed yarn with watercolors to create a bell that sways but does not sound.
Sheila Salazar, also a sophomore at Renaissance, made a series of plaster molds – the Peruvian flag, a brush and palette, a cross – to represent her life. The final mold? A wild smattering of color. “My many ideas,” she explained.
To receive an application for the summer 2008 session of Making Your Mark, email email@example.com or call 718-204-7088, ext. 205.