Each year for the past 20 years, Ross School seventh graders have taken on the role of museum curators, organizing thematic exhibitions of the work of professional artists for the school’s gallery. This project was designed to empower students to engage with art in meaningful and authentic ways, while helping them acquire skills in organization, critical thinking, and collaboration. This year’s show, titled Real: An Exhibition of Intricate Imagination, features recent Guild Hall Artist-in-Residence Arcmanoro Niles and Long Island native Scott Bluedorn. Both artists combine realistic imagery with imaginary forms.
Arcmanoro Niles was born in Washington, D.C., and attended high school at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and the Washington Studio School for figure drawing. He later earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts from Pennsylvania Fine Arts and a master’s degree in fine art from the New York Academy of Art. His paintings have been shown in New York, Costa Rica, and China.
Scott Bluedorn was born in Southampton, NY. A graduate of East Hampton High School, he earned a BFA degree from the School of Visual Art. He has exhibited in numerous gallery exhibitions and currently has work on view in the Radical Seafaring exhibition at the Parrish Art Museum. Scott works in numerous media and uses them to explore the theme of nature and the sea.
As in past years, students began their project by visiting the artists in their studios. They followed by interviewing them, taking photos, assembling a catalog, and designing and installing the show in the Ross Gallery. The two artists also came to the school to teach art workshops with the students, and the students’ drawings are included in the exhibition as well. Finally, the class hosted the opening reception on May 23, serving hors d’oeuvres and special beverages and circulating among attendees. The students were supported in their project this year by Visual Arts teacher Jon Mulhern, Dean of Visual Arts Jennifer Cross, and grade 7 teacher Carol Crane. The exhibit will remain on view through June 23.
As a summative assessment, students wrote reflections that identified the most memorable and challenging aspects of organizing and presenting a cohesive and meaningful exhibition. Some of their statements can be found below:
Cameron: I had the most fun in the drawing classes and going the studios because it was really amazing to see how and where these amazing people work, and the drawing classes were fun because I got to learn more about shading from Arc and more detail and blending in a sense of connecting two things together through art.
Emma: I felt really proud that we were able to pull the show together and present the artists well, because for a while we were very behind. But we were able to catch up and do a good job.
Caleb: The exhibition was really fun. I liked editing the photos and meeting with the artists and learning about their style of painting. I was proud that all of us could work together and produce something so complex as an art exhibition.
Hunter: I think the gallery reception was the most fun, especially being a volunteer waiter.
Leah: It was most fun to have the artists come and teach because we then got to explore our creativity during the project. I liked being taught new techniques from the artists and I think that having a class from such good artists such as Scott and Arc was not something to take for granted and helped me grow as an artist.
Lilah: It [opening night] felt amazing! Seeing all our hard work come together so smoothly and seamlessly. It was such a great feeling to see what a group of 12- and 13-year-olds did in such a short time. The best part was seeing Caleb’s and my photos on the first wall when you walk in.