A semester’s worth of K-12 art education at SUNY New Paltz culminated in the Saturday Arts Lab (SAL) spring exhibit on April 11. Young community artists presented their work to an audience of their parents and SUNY New Paltz students and faculty who have been working with them in visual arts and music classes this spring.
The SAL, which began in 2013 as part of the School of Fine and Performing Arts’ (F&PA) Community Arts School, offers diverse art education programming for students from kindergarten to high school age. Classes are taught by New Paltz faculty, advanced and graduate students in F&PA programs, community artists and art teachers.
“A big part of the mission of this program is to make stronger connections between the campus and the surrounding community,” said Jessica Poser, assistant professor of art education and director of the SAL. “We provide access to exciting art education to anyone who wants it, and we have kids from all over the area coming in to take classes.”
Spring 2015 SAL classes ran for eight weeks beginning on Feb 21. Courses were offered for young students in subjects including piano, sculpture, printmaking, painting, photography, book and mapmaking and stop-motion animation.
“Our approach to art education is very exploratory, constructivist, discovery-based, with a focus on investigation, problem-finding and process,” Poser said. This exhibit was a celebration of those principles. “While we love showcasing all our amazing work at the end of the semester, it’s really everything that led up to that that makes us who we are,” Poser said.
An added benefit of the SAL is the opportunity it affords college students in art education programs to gain classroom experience working with arts students of all ages while also satisfying fieldwork requirements.
Victoria Kari ’13 (Art Education) ‘15g (Printmaking) worked as the SAL graduate assistant this spring. She co-taught a course in sculpture for young students and helped organize classes and publicize the program regionally. Kari said she finds value in the Arts Lab’s ability to share College art education resources with local students who might not otherwise have access to this breadth of instruction.
“Sometimes kids don’t get to explore so much in school, so it’s great that in the Arts Lab they get that opportunity,” Kari said. “This exhibit is a lot of fun, and it’s a wonderful end result when you get to see all the work and the kids’ reactions to it.”