Reflecting back on my time at the Milwaukee Art Museum interning with the Satellite High School Program brings many valuable memories and thoughts to the surface. I’ve been privileged to have had the opportunity to work with dozens of bright, creative, and enthusiastic students from high schools around Milwaukee. Looking back on those weekly Thursday meetings, there are too many good times to mention. There were not so good times too–students having difficulty with final projects, frustrations with resume editing, and challenges giving tours to younger kids. These are the situations that make a pre-service teacher like me stronger; I was forced to come up with strategies for helping to work through student’s problems along with them in a way that was conducive to their unique learning styles.
Four years ago, in 2011, I was introduced to Dwight and Marquis Gilbert — otherwise known as H2O Milwaukee Music — and the teen programs at the Milwaukee Art Museum were forever changed.
Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but collaborating with Dwight and Marquis has without a doubt been one of the highlights of my teaching work here at the Museum. Dwight and Marquis are cousins and Milwaukee natives with a deep passion for music. Their organization, H2O Milwaukee Music, creates after-school programs that teach youth music theory, technology, and life skills in a super engaging way: by empowering them to create their own tracks (and even music videos). Back in 2011, I was experimenting with mashing up other disciplines with art, and when I heard about what Dwight and Marquis do, I was so excited to bring them in to experiment with our teen programs.
At the end of February, teens in the Satellite High School Program gathered around Michelle Erickson’s Texas Tea Party (2005). They’ll study this object for the whole semester, using different methods of looking to form their own interpretations. For their first session, we spent one full hour looking closely at the work and having an open-ended dialogue about what we saw, the artist’s intent, and what it all might mean.
We began our discussion with a moment of silence to take in the piece individually. Michelle Erickson packs quite a lot into her small-scale ceramic sculpture, Texas Tea Party—it’s just 8” x 8” x 8”. After a few minutes, I invited the group to share comments, ideas, and thoughts. Although we’ve been in session for a few weeks now, this is our first time as a group discussing a work of art together.
The Museum has offered teen programs that change the lives of young people for over thirty years. I’m thrilled to feature an interview with one program alum, Jesús Hilario, who is a senior in high school at Rufus King High School in Milwaukee. Jesús was an intern in the Museum’s ArtXpress high school program in 2013, and is a recent multi-award winner for the national Scholastic Art Awards, on view at the Museum through March 22. ArtXpress is a summer studio internship program for teens, who take inspiration from the Museum’s feature exhibition to create a mural that positively addresses a community issue and is displayed for a year as an advertisement on a Milwaukee County public bus. The Scholastic Art Awards is a national program that has encouraged the artistic endeavors of young people throughout the United States for over eighty-five years.
I’m thrilled to share that the Museum launched its first online course this month! Hangout with Art is a completely free MOOC (massive open online course) whose goal is to help participants find new ways to engage with art and get more comfortable visiting museums. The course went live earlier this month and I thought this might be a good moment to share more about the MOOC here on our blog.