The Developing Artist Program

Ongoing Grant Program Expands Student Horizons and Promotes Creativity

The Developing Artist program began as an Alliance Reaching Out Grant at Eastern Middle School in 2016. Additional Alliance grants supported the expansion of the program to Central and Western Middle Schools.  Michael Manning and Ben Quesnel, local artists and teachers, are the  program coordinators.

The goals of the program are to give students a broader understanding of art, expose them to the possibilities of art careers, inspire them to become intentional in their creativity and develop awareness of themselves as artists, innovators and creators.

These goals are achieved by bringing a diverse group of professional studio artists into the classroom to share their work, practices and experiences with the students.  Students have also been able to visit artists’ studios, galleries, museums and organizations that support and develop the career of professional artists.

Since inception, there has been a consistent strong line-up of artists and committed connections to the professional arts community. As Michael Manning states “we work hard to find artists that have interesting and relatable practices for our students. We seek artists who use materials or conceptual ideas that will challenge how our students understand or interpret what art is and what art can be.”

Sessions with artists have exposed students to architecture, creative drama, weaving, spray-paint demos, special effects make-up artistry, environmental installations, stop motion animation, sculpting, portraiture, collaborative murals, “recycled” works of art and the creative practice of graffiti.

Works of art associated with the program have been exhibited at numerous locations throughout Greenwich. Michael and Ben state “the support from the schools and arts community has been overwhelmingly positive, demonstrating strong commitment for this endeavor.”

The program was able to adapt successfully to accommodate remote learning during the pandemic by hosting virtual studio visits with various artists which were recorded, edited and archived for future use.  Additionally weekly visits to museums, galleries and working studios were conducted through Zoom classes. The grant also provided artists funds for their work and participation which was more important than ever.

Ben, who is also an art teacher at EMS, shares his enthusiasm for the program, “as a teacher and artist, I always want to know that I am doing everything I can to give my students the best possible art experience in the classroom. Sometimes lack of funding can be limiting but grants like [this one] have allowed us to develop an enriching program that provides our students with opportunities that we would not be able to do otherwise. It makes me feel like we are doing something significant for our young inspiring students, and that is why we do it.”

And as Michael states the students “see the artists’ work with fresh eyes and give unguarded responses and feedback.”  This program has given students a “chance to see new things, to problem solve and to wonder why and how”.

Check out this video showcasing many of the studio artists interacting with the students  and be sure to visit the dedicated Developing Artist Program website.

Press Articles:
Greenwich Alliance For Education and the Developing Artist Program
Old Greenwich & Riverside Neighbors Magazine – April 2021

Peter D. Cook Partners with Developing Artists Program to Build Bridge
Greenwich Free Press – August 14, 2019

Greenwich 8th Graders Bring Tod’s Point Inspired Art to Life
Greenwich Time – March 18, 2019

Pilot Program Introduces Greenwich Kids to the Creative Process
Greenwich Time – March 26, 2018

MADE UP – Special Effects Wiz Teaches Tricks of the Trade
Greenwich Time – January 22, 2018

Greenwich Middle School Art Students Create Petting Zoo
Greenwich Time – May 5, 2017

Greenwich EMS Students Learn the Fine Art of Weaving
Greenwich Time – December 16, 2016

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Greenwich Alliance for Education
48 Maple Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06830
203.340.2323
julie@greenwichalliance.org