Teaching Life Skills and Art Curation: Eliot Lable

Eliot Lable, Artist

"People in Gear" - A Collaboration with Eliot LableEliot Lable, who explores the tough subjects of violence, evil and intolerance in his art, has for the past seven years run NURTUREart‘s Education Outreach program in Brooklyn high schools that teaches underserved students in the New York area how to curate art and also how to work cooperatively with others. NURTUREart’s education program gives students the opportunity to meet and learn from professional artists and curators who expose them to contemporary art and teach them skills that can lead to future careers.

The program runs throughout the school year and culminates in an exhibition at the NURTUREart Gallery. It teaches students art handling, installation, press and marketing and preparing for an opening reception. Students are given the opportunity to visit studios of area artists, go to art galleries and art institutions, and to learn to write about and critique art.

Lable started the program in 2005 with then art teacher Sarah Hervert, who is now a middle school assistant principal. Their goal was to involve the many artists who have studios in their area, and it has grown to include multiple schools. In 2010, NURTUREart added an education coordinator to help expand the program and to develop new partnerships. The organization is a non-profit that’s received support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, NYCulture, WNYC, The Greenwall Foundation, The Leibovitz Foundation, and The New York State Council on the Arts.

According to Lable, “the best part of program is that it reinforces what students learn and teaches them how to work with each other through curating a show. It gives them a purpose and also improves their writing, editing and other skills”.

In talking about his own work as an artist and educator, Lable says, “As a complex person, there is an artist side of me and an art educator side. The art work that I create in my studio is typically connected to a subject that I find personally captivating. The challenge then is to convert this idea into a visual entity that truly represents the initial captivation. I feel that another part of me wants to share with students the immense joy of making art work.  Also a part of me believes that the process of making art can be a stepping stone for learning”.

Eliot Lable’s work, which explores the subjects of violence, evil, torture, death, intolerance, fear and aging, has been exhibited in many solo and group shows, including in Finland and Costa Rica.  He’s received numerous grants, including a Fulbright Fellowship to Finland; and two Council for Basic Education Grants, which were sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and Time Warner. His work is in the collections of the Museo de Arte Costarricense in Costa Rica, and in Helsinki, Finland, the City Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as in private and corporate collections.  A permanent sculpture, commissioned by Public Art for Public Schools (PAPS), can be seen at the entrance of the School of Cooperative Education in New York City.

Anyone interested in learning more about NURTUREart or Eliot Lable’s work is invited to contact him at info@eliotlable.com or 718.706.8622.

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Using Art to Help Kids at Risk: Jami Taback

Jami Taback, Artist and Founder/Director of Kids at Risk: Adventures in Printmaking

Flowers of Fire; World Trade Center; Storm Warning

 

With arts education facing funding cuts in many schools, what can artists do to make a difference in their communities?

It is difficult to get into a school program without a not-for-profit status because it validates the program. Funding has been cut drastically and the schools and shelters have not been able to write these programs into the grants they receive. Speaking with your local representatives helps to get them acquainted with you and the program and sometimes a discretionary fund is set up. I tell everyone I know what I do and ask them if they know teachers or school officials for an introduction. I always feel that once they meet me and hear about the Kids at Risk: Adventures in Printmaking program, they are at ease and willing to help.

How has teaching informed your own work as an artist?

This is a powerful question in that first I introduce the children to a process with my own idea in mind, however, in turn; they create artwork from their own interpretation which is often exciting and inspirational for me. This is the beauty of the work I do. I am constantly affected by their work, the way they absorb the mission of the program and interpret it in their own art making. It reminds me every day to preserve the creative force of my inner child in order to keep my work fresh and interesting.

Are there organizations you recommend getting involved with to make connections in this area?

Many of my connections have come from people I know. When I am involved in a program, I call the local paper and ask for a writer to come with a camera to document the experience.

This includes donations of art materials from stores.

I also have a separate website for the program I offer that is exclusively for donations. In return for the donation, artwork is available for different levels of donations. This approach requires an email list, sent out to inform everyone you know about this worthwhile cause. There is a video where I talk about the program.

What techniques are you exploring in your own work, and has digital played a part in your art?

I am currently attending an Artist in Residence Program at The Lower East Side Print Shop in NYC. In this atmosphere I am able to explore different techniques in the hopes that a new process will emerge from me, a new way to express myself while staying within the scope of printmaking which is my favorite medium these days. From the prints dealing with a specific subject matter, I can move to painting, drawing and digital explorations. Digital processes have played a part in printmaking. I do incorporate this imagery very carefully and sparingly in aspects of my work.

I once listened to a terrific talk by the artist Claes Oldenburg. He said that an artist need not search for new ideas and that one good idea can last a lifetime. I often think of this when wondering about where my next idea will be. I was showing someone the kids’ prints dealing with Crystals and Gems. After looking at them I decided to explore this subject further in my own work. This is what I am working on at the residence.

 The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang the best. —John James Audubon

Jami Taback is an artist who produces artwork through a unique process of creative collaboration with children. She visits alternative, public and private schools, shelters and foster homes using art to establish meaningful connections with children. The activity of making art serves to gain their interest, involvement and trust. She says, “I use my creative talent and sensitivity as a printmaker and painter to forge these connections. To date, I have taught and interacted with over 500 children in the last few years. This program is based on an intensive mentoring relationship with youth, particularly those with behavioral problems and special education needs. Through learning about the art of Printmaking and its history rooted in ancient civilization as a tool for communication, students immerse themselves for several weeks in the arts and education. A printmaking studio with a portable table press is set up at the school for the duration of the project where the youth visit for several hours each week to learn about and produce their own work which is then incorporated into a museum quality mural, a public installation at their school. Sometimes, it’s just to engage the kids in something creative, to think about things differently, to meet an artist, but sometimes it sparks an interest, and they find out that they are artists too.”

Donations to Kids at Risk: Adventures in Printmaking, are used to help to fund art supplies such as ink, paper and various printmaking tools for kids.

 

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