Teaching with Contemporary Art

Bringing it Back Home

Illustration by Lauren Beltramo

December, January, May, June…. These are popular months for graduates to visit their former high schools because they are either between semesters at college or finished for the school year altogether. While it took me a while to go back to my old high school (to the tune of approximately a decade), I am fortunate to have a crew of truly interesting and dedicated students who regularly come back to visit our Art department.

Last week, right before we went on holiday break, Lauren Beltramo, one of our amazing and dedicated graduates, came by to visit with my AP Studio Art class to talk about life in her first semester at Drexel University. She shared some recent work and also gave everyone a peek at a few pieces she is exhibiting for a group show here in NY at the GAGA Arts Center next month. Students asked questions about the difference between high school art classes and college classes (length was a popular point in the discussion… you can get a lot more done in 3 hours than you can in 45 minutes, obviously), as well as the inspiration for a variety of her works.

Having students come back to team teach, share stories and successes, and continue to maintain important connections is vital to the life of all art programs- whether you teach middle school, high school or college. Having students come back to discuss the work they’re creating and the directions they’re heading not only keeps us in the loop, but also serves as an important model for current students. These students get to see and hear about what happens “after”. The months of December and January are particularly good times to tap into those graduates who are home and able to share their experiences since graduating, whether they are attending college, working at a particular job, or even “in-between” and making decisions about their own next steps in life.

Contributor
Joe Fusaro is the senior education advisor for Art21, and has written Art21’s “Teaching with Contemporary Art” column since 2008. He is an exhibiting artist and visual arts chair for the Nyack Public Schools in New York; and an adjunct instructor for New York University’s Graduate Program in Art and Arts Professions.
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