Established in 1995, New Art in the Neighborhood (NAN) is the Museum’s flagship education program, providing St. Louis-area high school students with pre-professional art instruction and opportunities to work with contemporary artists from around the world. This free, in-depth program provides twenty participants, ages 14 to 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 art history and their own art-making.
On view is a selection of work made by the class of 2016 in collaboration with visiting artists and educators. In summer 2015, CAM presented Pedro Reyes’s Museum of Hypothetical Lifetimes, a scaled-down model of an imaginary museum. This artwork served as the inspiration for the students’ own hypothetical museum, which they filled with objects reflecting contemporary life. Working with St. Louis visual artist and anthropologist Eric Repice, NAN participants collaged and reworked images sourced online to create mixed-media works examining Internet culture. Students made robotic creatures in collaboration with Apollo Timbers of Arch Reactor, St. Louis’s largest “hackerspace.” Investigating iconography and mythology, participants also built versions of Matryoshka—or nesting dolls—exploring how different layers of culture interact with or “nest” within each other.
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, and was one of six programs selected for participation at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston’s National Teen Convening in the Arts (2013). NAN offers eligible students college credit through Webster University.
The New Art in the Neighborhood: Annual Student Exhibition is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by De Nichols, Community Outreach Manager.