Social Practice - Museum School Engages on Many Levels
Thursday, June 11, 2015
By Director of Engagement and Learning daniel Johnson
Attention is a precious commodity in contemporary society. We lead highly scheduled lives and in between our appointments and events, we are catching up on emails, news and social media. The considerations of social practice not only take note of and mimic the ways we naturally engage our lives, a good work of social engagement layers multiple intentions into each action. Through our Museum School, we recognize the desire to learn about and create art with experienced teaching artists. While the quality of our instruction is primary to the Museum School experience, any time we are bringing people together, we want to make the most of that time. We are building community among individuals who share interests and common geography. We use lessons to increase knowledge of our collection and the legacy of Mississippi artists. At times, we can even engage dialog on local issues meaningful to the participants.
In our Museum Summer School, we are conscious that the teacher-student relationships which are forged over the week can have impacts extending far beyond the experience of the class. Some of our considerations in hiring teachers include representing the many backgrounds that make up Mississippi identity, representing different approaches to art-making, and the potential for relationships which extend beyond the single summer class.
When a middle school student connects with Prof. Phoenix Savage of Tougaloo College during The Sculptor is Present, they are not only receiving quality instruction, but are also developing a connection with a local college. High school students taking Kelly Walter’s class are getting a sense of the expectations of the Head of Visual Arts at the Mississippi School of the Arts and perhaps even being inspired to apply. Our Little Masters teacher Lesley Collins is a long-time art-maker with the Stewpot Afterschool program and brings a spirit of social responsibility and community engagement to our group. RahLeeCoh Ishakarah has been making art on West Capitol Street for decades in his own neighborhood art camps and at Jackson State University. RahLeeCoh is bringing his unique take on portraiture and figure drawing to our Young Artist and middle school level students. We are also excited to have Professor Sandra Murchison of Millsaps College teaching a high school level printmaking class this year. As the Director of the Purple Word Center for Book and Paper Arts in Midtown, she brings a strong sense of community along with a college-level instruction-style to our program.
Our mission to “engage Mississippians in the visual arts”extends beyond our collection and beyond our building. As an organization servicing our community through the visual arts, we know that art works and art-making can be vehicles for building relationships, engaging difficult subjects, and expanding the potential of each Mississippian. The teaching artists of Museum School are a key part of this puzzle of people we are assembling and bringing together just the right group is certainly a part of our social practice.