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Virtual programming with aplomb

Updated: Jul 11, 2020

We have completed the first week of ART YARD Summer Session 2020. We met the challenges of virtual programming with aplomb.

Teaching Artist Claudia Alvarez spent the last several months teaching her under graduate and graduate students at NYU and Pratt in virtual classes. Thus she was well prepared to develop a deeply meaningful and inspiring version of our summer intensive for Zoom.

Participating artists exemplify our broadest age range of participants to date - at a guess, 7-70 or so! Our multi-generational community is one aspect of the inclusiveness we aim for at ART YARD and I am thrilled to see how we can support and encourage each other.

Another cool aspect of virtual programming is we are not limited by proximity. In the class we have New Yorkers from four of our boroughs, New Jersey residents, folks in Maine, Florida is representing, as are a few people from California and un'amica italiana.

Of course, Zoom is not without its particular challenges. We are fortunate that Teaching Artist Jane Huntington, who is participating in the program, is a wiz at solving technical issues. We’ve dubbed Jane Summer Session IT Queen.

Claudia describes our aims: “In this summer session we will focus on ideas about community in art. We will create individual artworks as well as collaborate on concepts based on and reflecting community. We will be engaged, interactive, and working together to have a creative community and a collective experience.”

We start sessions looking at the work of contemporary artists engaged in social practices. Perhaps looking at stills or film clips. This brings us into the realm of deeply meaningful societal issues, and the impact we as artists can have in the world. We follow with a group discussion of the ideas, sometimes within smaller break-out groups. When we do that a spokesperson from each group shares the gist of the conversation once we are back together.

Suzanne Lacy, We are Here
Teen Sisters Shreya and Saffron, Wishing Well

Next we are given an artmaking assignment or directive which can be executed in the materials of our choice. Generally we work for about 40-60 minutes on our art. Then we share in our traditional ART YARD critique which is comprised of showing and discussing the work we have made, comments, comparisons and contrasts from the group, finishing off with a heartfelt compliment.

On the first session we created a piece for a specific person that we mailed the next day.

Claudia Alvarez, Mexican Baseball for a note to her father
Delphine Levenson, To a friend who cares about nature
August Levenson, A Card for a Friend
Zeke Brokaw, High Five for a Friend
Nayarit Tineo, Letter to an Old Friend

The second session we addressed big issues that we feel strongly about.

Tori Bowman, Keep Our Beaches Clean
Sigrid Dolan, Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover (Dressing in your own style)
Meridith McNeal, Reform for Healthy & Good Food in Hospitals
Vera Tineo, Revising the Constitution
Jane Huntington, Unity Tree
Dakota Jones, Basketball Mentorship for Teens Like Me

Wednesday we dove into collaborative problem solving and discussions. Everyone took notes and helped each other to think of viable ways to address issues. The art work we made was reflective of any aspect of the topic or methods.

Jack Brokaw, Art Saves Lives
TJ Edgar, Save The Bees
Kevin Anderson, Save The Bees
Zahir Prudent, Black Lives Matter

Yesterday Claudia charged us with taking one idea and conceiving of three variations of artwork to address the same concepts.

Ailey Haynes, Recycling to Save the Planet.
Marilyn August, Science Education for All
Jordan Wolf-Cho, Food Justice
Sarah Gumgumji, Combat Water Polution
Maya Cubarle, Addressing Plastic Waste

Check out more of the artwork created in our first week of Summer Session on the Galleries page!


We are thrilled to announce that participating artist Sarah Gumgumji has become our ART YARD CREATE Program Manager. This means that Sarah will be posting weekly CREATE topics, keeping the galleries up to date and encouraging YOU to participate!

For this week Sarah’s topic is: Symbols of our Culture. She describes the topic and kicks off the thread with Symbols are the basis of culture. It is an object, word, or movement. There are so many symbols representing cultures, such as flags, objects, figures, sounds, and colors. In my culture, there are so many symbols that represent the culture in so many different ways. Let us exchange symbols that represent something from your culture or another culture that fascinates you. “

Sarah Gumgumji, Protective Eye
Sarah Gumgumji, Protective Eye Mixed Media Embroidery
Marie Roberts, Good Luck Clovers
A Good Luck Scarf, or Gamblers Scarf!
Marie Roberts, Red Cat = Money Cat!
Meridith McNeal, Lola Money!!!

Cecile Chong adds: "The number 8 is the luckiest number in the Chinese culture.

It looks like an asymmetrical mustache. In Cantonese it’s pronounced “paad” which rhymes with “faad” meaning to make a fortune. Houses with the street address 8, 88 or 888 are quite sought after.  My house number is 153, not even close. :)"

I implore you to become a site member if you have not already and head over to CREATE to participate in the dialogue Sarah has started!


We are so excited to report that In Reflection, currently on view at Kentler, has received a fantastic review in the Red Hook Star newspaper! The review is posted on their website and appears in the July 2020 print edition of the newspaper.

Thanks go to writer Diana Rickard for her support of ART YARD! We truly appreciate your article.

Congratulations to Kevin Anderson, Evelyn Beliveau, Vera Tineo, Fatima Traore, and Quentin Williamston, ART YARD Advanced Studio Senior Curators.


Have a great weekend everyone!

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