The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM) presents two 2019 ArtReach exhibitions featuring work by students from Vashon High School. Since August 2017, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and the faculty and administration of Vashon have partnered in the implementation of a project-based art curriculum, providing fundamental art education through introductory art courses, exploring 2D and 3D art-making to approximately sixty students per year. Prior to the partnership, Vashon had been without a consistent art program for nearly five years. Now in its second year, CAM enlists four resident teaching artists, one per quarter, who plan and teach a focus project from start to finish. This innovative and comprehensive program is under the direction of CAM’s School and Community Programs Manager Miriam Ruiz, working in collaboration with Vashon instructor Tim Jennings. Vashon belongs within CAM’s one-mile-radius initiative, in which staff and local artists work with our neighboring schools and immediate community. In the spring, Vashon students will be studying architectural drafting with Marley Bell and photography with Tiffany Sutton.
During the second quarter, students considered the nature of their material environment and how it has changed over time. With the guidance of local artist Natalie Pinson, students created a sculptural installation from old and discarded school furniture and supplies. Moving from antiques to obsolete technology, School Spirits documents the evolution of the classroom environment from yesteryear to present day. Students drew inspiration from contemporary artists like Abigail DeVille, who primarily use found objects in their installations, as they morphed quotidian objects into new creations, like old handwriting practices into soaring paper airplanes.
First quarter resident teaching artist Lois Ingrum took a thematic approach to her project, using art as a vehicle for introspection and aspiration. Ingrum drew upon both her experience as a seasoned photographer and educator to devise a series of multimedia projects to showcase and challenge students’ identities and ambitions. Employing the aesthetics of Kara Walker and Kehinde Wiley, students considered how both portrait and background, figurative and non-objective design can act as conveyors of meaning. As an exhibition, Self-Expressions is a colorful tapestry of youthful voices, words, and imagery that oscillate between playful and earnest.