Artists Space

Welcome To My World

December 11, 2014 – February 8, 2015

An exhibition of artworks and a book by students from PS140 Nathan Straus and MS324 Patria Mirabal.

A person with pink nail polish hold up a Canon AE-1 film camera.
Aisha Rodriguez, Click, 2013. [A person with pink nail polish hold up a Canon AE-1 film camera.]

The exhibition Welcome To My World presents artworks and a book produced with students in Artists Space's education program, Expanded Art Ideas, based at two New York City schools: PS140 Nathan Straus on the Lower East Side and MS324 Patria Mirabal in Washington Heights. Featuring drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, video and poetry produced in the last four years, Welcome to My World also includes archived documentation of key arts projects initiated since 1998. These works and projects are examples of how the program is ingrained in the social context of the schools, and in the lives of the students.

Expanded Art Ideas (EAI) was founded in 1996 by artist Chrysanne Stathacos and Ellen Salpeter, Director of Thread Waxing Space, and under Stathacos's guidance it became a program of Artists Space in 2001. EAI is rooted in the principle of placing working artists in New York City public schools, to encourage students at all levels to develop an artistic voice. The program provides access to art classes for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students and also augments teaching in the language arts, through residencies with established poets.

Expanded Art Ideas affirms the important role that the arts play in educational contexts and particularly in middle schools, where students are faced with formative decisions about their future studies. More broadly, the projects and classes led by artists provide the students with insight into how visual and textual expression can be used to articulate their personal circumstances, and to question the world around them. In the light of severe cuts to funding for arts education in New York City over the past decade, and the subsequent disappearance of arts classes in many public schools, programs such as EAI often provide the sole access for students to guidance and discussion with artists and art educators. At PS140, the program also helps students apply for admission to specialized high schools of art, design, and fashion in New York City.

The work presented in Welcome To My World provides a window into the students' approaches to producing art, from creative exercises produced for their high school applications, to the use of photography and video to document their urban environments, and the collaborative production of paintings representing the experience of migration from one country to another. The exhibition also includes projects made in relation to recent exhibitions at Artists Space, from painted books inspired by the work of Zilia Sánchez, to a series of documentary videos made with Marco Vera from Mexicali Rose. A further section of the exhibition looks back to projects undertaken at the schools in the Lower East Side and Washington Heights in the period after 9/11, including video and poems from The Talisman Project, and texts and photographs from East-West Dialogues, a 2000-2003 exchange program conducted with students from the Tibetan Children's Village School in Dharamsala.

The teaching artists currently working at PS140 and MS324 are Joy Episalla, Nancy Friedemann, Susan Hamburger, Mary Simpson, Sara Jane Stoner, Kate Temple and Marco Vera.

Former teaching artists include Annie Bien, A Constructed World, Stefania Heim, Lauren Lesko and Miriam Schaer, with project assistance from Ed Burke and Sophie Green.