Krannert Art Museum is proud to partner with Booker T. Washington STEM Academy (BTW) for a year-long arts education initiative with all 4th-grade classrooms. This partnership was inspired by the mutual interest in empowering and supporting young learners to explore the relationship between self, others, and society through art.
This year-long collaboration was initiated during spring 2022 when KAM Educators were invited to participate in BTW’s Fabulous Friday, where students spend 2 hours engaging with visitors from various disciplines and careers every Friday. Conversations of a two-way partnership developed as KAM educators Sylvia Yang, Kamila Glowacki, and Ishita Dharap met with BTW teacher Jennifer Jamison to discuss and brainstorm potential possibilities of developing a program that would provide students with opportunities to prolong engagement with art and art making.
During the first half of the year-long partnership (fall 2022), BTW students and KAM educators met at either the school or the art museum on Fridays to learn about art, meet with artists, make artworks, and explore how art can be a powerful tool to tell their stories.
In September, the first session began with museum educators Kamila Glowacki, Tim Abel, and the rest of the KAM Ed team visiting Booker T. Washington STEM Academy for initial introductions through art-making activities. BTW students arrived at KAM the following week and learned about art exhibitions through a guided tour with KAM educators. Before leaving the museum, Dr. Rachel Storm, the assistant director of community engagement and learning, introduced students to their upcoming project that will take place at Krannert Art Museum in the form of an art show.
As students traversed through different galleries, they visited Black on Black on Black on Black, a multi-dimensional exhibition exploring Black identity, collectivity, positionality, healing, innovation, and education. This exhibition featured Black faculty in the School of Art & Design at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. One of the artists, Stacey Robinson, introduced his graphic design work exploring afrofuturism and demonstrated his art-making process to the visiting 4th graders.
Inspired by their visit to KAM, students at BTW spent the upcoming Fab Friday sessions working on creating artwork that would represent their identities by combining various recycled materials. These sessions were facilitated by Kamila Glowacki and Tim Abel, who later invited Nekita Thomas, one of the artists from the Black on Black on Black on Black exhibition, to share her anti-racist design solutions through a t-shirt making workshop at the elementary school.
This ongoing partnership is a unique experience where KAM Educators work with the same group of students for one year, presenting opportunities for our team to build lasting relationships and respond to the evolving needs of our community partners.
The upcoming exhibition, In the Making, features BTW students’ unique stories and creative works generated through this partnership. A public celebratory exhibition reception will be hosted on December 8 from 5-7 PM in the Hood Classroom. The exhibition will be on display through January 18, 2023.
In spring 2023, we look forward to continuing this partnership and unpacking how art reflects the world as it is and how art helps us imagine new possibilities. We aim to provide students with the time and space to reflect and respond to their work, and continue to experiment, express, and grow as they build relationships with art.
Author: Sylvia Yang, KAM Education Graduate Assistant and Doctoral Candidate in Curriculum and Instruction (Dec 2022)