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Extraordinary educational programs at LI art museums


The Greek Muses

The educational mission of art museums has been expressed in ways with which we have become familiar, including exhibitions, tours, school support, instruction and lectures. Two of our Long Island art museums, The Nassau County Museum of Art and The Parrish Art Museum are currently moving beyond the familiar with educational innovations and partnerships about which one might not learn by chance, but which are notable for their contributions to this region. Each is worthy of closer consideration than this mention can offer.

Visual Literacy and ESL at the Nassau County Museum of Art

Over the past year, educators at Nassau County Museum of Art (NCMA) and Queensborough Community College (QCC) have been developing strategies that use the visual arts to assist non-English speaking adults achieve English literacy. The result, the CALTA (Culture and Literacy through Art) Institute, was launched at a four-day workshop held at the museum from June 14-17, 2010. The American Association of Museums (AAM) says that this program positions NCMA as “a key player in helping ease the transition of new immigrants into their American communities.” The NCMA/QCC collaboration is one of only a handful of initiatives nationwide cited by AAM. According to the AAM report, CALTA “offers English language learners a means of finding a voice in a new culture and, for some, new modes of critical expression.” This program has been made possible through a grant from the Institute for Museums and Library Services (IMLS).

Museum Director Karl Emil Willers, Ph.D. opened the CALTA Institute by informing participants that they are involved in creating a national model to teach English to adult immigrants. Explaining the critical importance of the CALTA Institute, NCMA’s director of education, Patricia Lannes, herself an immigrant who learned English as an adult, said that AAM’s Center for the Future of Museums predicts that minorities will constitute the majority of the U.S. population by 2050. She said “this project will allow us to use museums and art as catalysts for English language development and personal empowerment of the immigrant community.”

Kitty Bateman, J.D., QCC associate professor of basic educational skills and director of the college’s literacy program, noted that while visual thinking strategies are often used for children, “CALTA is the first initiative of its kind to offer adult English learners and their families new and innovative ways of approaching literacy.”

Methodologies for learning in this new program are based on VTS© (Visual Thinking Strategies). Amy Chase Gulden, regional director of VUE (Visual Understanding in Education) for New York, explained to workshop participants that VTS is a non-judgmental discussion- based experience in which there are no right or wrong answers. Participants are asked to respond to a work of art by discussing what they see and what is going on in the picture. 

Patricia Lannes Director of Education
(516) 484-9338 ext. 24

College Portfolio Preparation at The Parrish Art Museum

Portfolio Development for High School Students with Julie O’Daly

Mondays, July 12, 19, 26 and August 2, 9 and 16, 9 am to 1 pm

This course will strengthen drawing and painting skills for students preparing to apply to a fine arts degree program. Instruction will build toward organizing a strong portfolio based on a variety of experiences in the formal, technical, and expressive means available to an artist. Students will gain an appreciation for real life observation and articulation of volume, space, tonal value, color, and composition. In addition to studio work, the course will include visits to the Parrish galleries and permanent collection to develop critical thinking and expression.

Instruction will be tailored to each student’s needs and prior experiences. Open to students entering grades 10 through 12. Space is limited to 10 students. Julie O’Daly is the former coordinator of art at Westhampton Beach High School, where she guided numerous students through the portfolio development and college application process. She is a practicing artist trained in fine art, advertising, design, and communications and has supervised art education students on the college level. Julie O’Daly is currently completing an M.F.A. at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University.

Autism and the Arts at the Nassau County Museum of Art

Autism & the Arts is an after school program of monthly art workshops meeting in NCMA's children's art studio. The program is designed to inspire creativity and motivate communication in children with autism. Autism & the Arts was launched in 2007 through collaboration between NCMA and the North Shore Autism Circle

Workshops are led by a special needs educator who encourages students with autism to express themselves through painting, drawing, and sculpture. Through innovative exploration, children develop their own artistic style and voice while they communicate through words, imagery and movement. 

A portion of each class is devoted to viewing works of art in NCMA's collection as well as reproductions of artwork by modern masters such as Pablo Picasso and Joan Mir. These images become a springboard for communication, promoting discussions on art, the expression of ideas and inspiration for the workshop activities. 

For all inquires call 516-484-9338 x12

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