Established in 1995, New Art in the Neighborhood (NAN) is CAM’s flagship education program, providing St. Louis-area high school students with pre-professional art instruction and opportunities to work with major contemporary artists from around the world. This free, in-depth program provides twenty participants, ages 14–18, with over fifty hours of studio time each semester, immersing them in contemporary art and ideas in order to develop a greater critical awareness of their own art-making and art history. In celebration of the program’s twentieth anniversary, 20/20 features work made by the class of 2015 in collaboration with visiting artists and area arts organizations. On view is a wide range of work—from murals, video art, and costumes to contemporary takes on such classic subjects as cabinets of curiosity, dioramas, and illuminated manuscripts.
For this exhibition, NAN students worked with Screwed Arts Collective, employing spray paint and street art imagery to create a large-scale moveable mural using small individual canvases. Taking inspiration from renowned video artists Nam June Paik, Bruce Nauman, and Pipilotti Rist, St. Louis artist Jennifer Baker guided students to produce abstract videos with footage sourced from the Web as well as made on-site. With Ameli Skoglund Blaser, they used found material to recreate modes of dress from various cultures and historical moments with a contemporary sensibility. NAN also collaborated with teens from St. Louis ArtWorks and artists Sarah Paulsen and Adam Hogan to create a stop-motion animation film about their hopes, dreams, and futures.
Since NAN’s inception, the program has served over 650 high school students and partnered with more than 100 local, national, and international artists—Mel Chin, Jeremy Deller, Guerilla Girls, and Leslie Hewitt, among others—through workshops, studio visits, portfolio reviews, and lectures. NAN has been a three-time finalist for the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award for outstanding out-of-school programs (2010, 2012, and 2013), and was one of six programs selected for participation at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston’s 2013 National Teen Convening in the Arts. As of 2015, NAN students are now eligible for college credit through Webster University. As CAM has evolved, so too has this long-running initiative, engaging young people with the most innovative and relevant art being made today.
New Art in the Neighborhood: 20/20 is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Tuan Nguyen, Director of Education.