“There is more than one story to be told,” says Stephen, a senior at Canoga Park High School in Los Angeles, after spending nine weeks in a partnership program with the Skirball Education Department. Indeed, there were many stories told and discovered by eleventh and twelfth grade students who were inspired by the Skirball exhibitions Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams and Citizen 13660: The Art of Miné Okubo (on view now through February 21, 2016). From considering how to improve the quality of school food, to addressing bullying and disrespect in the classroom, to sharing the personal experience of spending time in juvenile hall, the students’ stories gave insight into their daily lives and offered a unique view into what it means to grow up in Los Angeles.
Each year, the Skirball presents an in-school residency program, designed to transform students from observers of art and culture into creators of their own work, inspiring their self-confidence and imagination. Developing a residency is a layered process. Once the Skirball Education and Museum Departments have conceived of a project, our next step is to find a teaching artist to collaborate with. We look for individuals who are experienced in their field, passionate and skilled educators, and excited to use the arts and cultural history to guide students through a creative process. We found a great partner in George Lavender, an award-winning independent radio and print journalist. George’s enthusiasm, natural curiosity, and supportive teaching style were essential in making this project a meaningful experience for the students.
In this year’s residency, students in Kelly Herrera’s Introduction to Art and Photography class worked closely with George and Skirball educators to create audio-stories and photo-essays exploring some of the issues that they and their peers are experiencing.