LEAP Middle School Initiative and New Art in the Neighborhood: New Perspectives

This exhibition of works made by middle school artists in the LEAP Middle School Initiative and high school artists in the New Art in the Neighborhood (NAN) program is the result of teens being able to gather onsite at CAM again in the 2021–22 academic year.

Resident Teaching Artists Lillian Gardner and Simiya Sudduth each worked with LEAP participants over a ten-week period to explore approaches to contemporary art making. In the fall, Gardner provided playful forms of self-expression through artist trading cards and surrealist portraits that were combined into a collaborative group artwork. In the spring, Sudduth helped LEAP artists expand upon narrative and storytelling skills to create their own zines, learning methods of paper folding, publication formatting, and design. 

2021–22 LEAP artists include: Amiyah Arend, Angela Clark, Kingston Collins, Fern Kanak, Mabel Kanak, Bennett Klosterman, Julia Long, Olive Losse, Eleanor Myers, Caris Ong, Louise Orbin, Esmé Schuman, Natalie Sears, Saoirse Skiljan, Mars Vance, and Jovi Vaughn.

For high school artists participating in NAN, being able to gather together again in person became a touchstone for their work. In the fall, artists explored how visual and material culture defines, shapes, enhances, inhibits, and empowers people’s lives. Jason Vasser-Elong began the program with an examination of text by exploring automatic writing, appropriation, and ekphrasis (the response to a visual work of art with words). Ryan McCartney then channeled NAN artists towards a collaborative project, which took the form of a large-scale painting. In the spring, Misato Pang explored how observation and perception inform abstraction, guiding artists through exercises such as still life drawing and sculpture, life drawing, and chance-based compositions.

2021–22 NAN artists include: Xavia Bell, Catalina Enz, RJ Hearon, Isabelle “Izzi” Jackson-Cameron, Atticus Jones, Finn Kanak, Ivy Kanak, Audrey LaBeaume, Annie Li, Montana Limper, Zachary Milner, Munta Mohammad-Akhtar, Cozette Mothershead, Will Seemiller, Katherine Welch, and Frankie Williams

LEAP Middle School Initiative and New Art in the Neighborhood: New Perspectives is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Brandon Barr, Teen and Adult Programs Manager.


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