The Developing Artist Program
Ongoing Grant Program Expands Student Horizons and Promotes Creativity
The Developing Artist Program (DAP) 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, are the program coordinators.
The goals of DAP were 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 were achieved by bringing a diverse group of professional studio artists into the classroom to share their work, practices and experiences with the students. As Michael Manning states “we work[ed] hard to find artists that have interesting and relatable practices for our students. We [sought} artists who use materials or conceptual ideas that [would] challenge how our students understand or interpret what art is and what art can be.”
Sessions with artists 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. Students were also able to visit artists’ studios, galleries, museums and organizations that support and develop the career of professional artists.
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.”
Ben, who is also an art teacher at GHS (previously 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] allowed us to develop an enriching program that provide[d] our students with opportunities that we would not [have been] able to do otherwise.”
And as Michael states through the DAP experience 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”.
While the program now operates independently of the GPS, it still provides provides opportunities to students and community participants to gain a broader understanding to what it means to be an artist.
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
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Greenwich Time – March 18, 2019
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Greenwich Time – March 26, 2018
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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