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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Eliot Arts Magnet Students Photograph, Then Artistically “Interpret” The Huntington Library

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With thanks to Shannon Mumolo

This past year, students from Altadena’s Eliot Arts Magnet together with Mayfield Junior School students engaged with The Huntington Library on a two-month collaborative venture that yielded the artwork you see above — as well as other surprising results.

Through the lens of their theme, “Harmony,” Eliot and Mayfield students photographed The Huntington. After examining and critiquing the work, a student leadership team selected the photos they thought best represented the chosen theme. Small groups of students then worked collaboratively in mixed school groups to interpret those photographs. Each piece they made brings together the work of multiple working in a range of media to depict the concept of Harmony.

Approximately 144 middle school students experienced what it was like to work as professional artists. They participated in conversations and critiques that required refining their ideas and their product. They knew ultimately that the work they created would become a public installation. Images of their works were displayed at their schools and are being incorporated into school day planners for the Eliot students.

The goal of the project was the cultivate the success through high-caliber arts mentorships and by strengthening students ideas and skills through instruction, critique and collaboration. Each final piece is a reflection of diverse group students’ strongest ideas, rather than any other individual’s.

These kinds of innovative public and private school collaborations give everyone involved in new perspectives. Putting two or more socio-economically divergent groups together forges peer communication and a greater understanding of each other. In the end, the Harmony Project was not just about the gardens; the students and teachers both from Eliot Arts Magnet and Mayfield Junior School created their own personal concordances.

Student learning and outcomes were supported by: Guest artist Susan Simpsons; Eliot Magnet coordinator Shannon Mumolo; Eliot teachers Roger Gray and Julia Alvarez; Mayfield Junior School teachers Nicole Sanders and Penny Wong. The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens is committed to forging unique and productive school partnerships that produce innovative and positive results for students.

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