Bucks County Herald

Learning communities cross boundaries in student photography exhibition at Michener

RUTH ANDERSON



Jeffrey Cappa celebrates the power of exercise and his powerful muscles.

There was standing room only throughout the Ann and Herman Silverman Education Pavilion at the Michener Art Museum on Sunday, May 7, when more than 150 people gathered to celebrate the “Crossing Boundaries: The Best Part of Me” opening reception.

“Crossing Boundaries: The Best Part of Me” is a collaboration between Bucks County and Philadelphia youth and the Michener Art Museum.

Participating schools include Pine Run Elementary School in the Central Bucks School District, Pennwood Middle School in the Pennsbury School District, the International Learning Program in Doylestown, and the LINC High School in North Philadelphia.

The exhibition features 115 large-format photographs, focused on student interpretations of the theme, “the best part of me.” Student artwork is accompanied by personal statements, poetry and videos, which further tell their stories and provide insights into their lives and personalities.

Inspired by the book, “The Best Part of Me” by Wendy Ewald, third-grade students from Pine Run Elementary worked with visual arts specialist Stephani Thomas to photograph their favorite part of their bodies. You can see ears, noses, hands, toes, eyes, elbows and beautiful smiles.

Their classroom teachers worked with them while they composed poetry describing “the best part of me.”

They combined art and language to celebrate their special place in the world. You can read about their eyes, used “to see colors in the wilderness,” their arms, used to “snuggle a teddy bear at night,” and fabulous freckles.

Student artists in Pennwood Middle School’s afterschool art club worked on photographic portraits with art educator Megan Miller, featuring themselves in their favorite area of their school, which is currently under construction. In some of the images, you will find fountains, ponds, crayon mosaics, brick walls, stairwells, keyboards and rows of lockers. In all of them, you will find inspiration. Their poses inform the mood of the image, and their handwritten statements convey their talents, strengths, feelings, and their dreams for the future. Michael Hartman loves the library, where he can release “the stress of school and get lost in books.”

Bekah Graber loves the art room, where her “inner sparkle shines.”

First generation Latino families from the International Learning Program worked with program director Rocio Higney and Michener Art Museum Arts Education staff, creating posters describing the part of them that made them most proud. They were encouraged to think about things they loved, things they thought they could do well, and even their dreams for the future.

They were excited to share their enthusiasm for being helpful, for being good mothers, for walking, dancing, flowers, basketball, math, writing and art. Through the images, they share their dreams of becoming artists, teachers, bakers, professional athletes and scientists.

The LINC is an open admission high school, where the focus of the curriculum is on “Learning in New Contexts.” LINC students worked with media educator Justin Deutsch. Their self-portrait multi-media images present viewers with a celebration of student heritage, skills, passions and interests.

Each image reveals a part of their personal story and allows the viewer to learn more about their lives, their dreams, and the promise that the future holds for them. QR codes imbedded in many of the photographs lead viewers to videos and artist statements created by the students. Students take us to the basketball court, to the mall, to their make-up mirrors, and even to Paris through their inspiring films.

The exhibition runs through May 28, and is free and open to the public during museum hours. The Michener Art Museum is at 138 S. Pine St., Doylestown. Need-based scholarships are available for all youth art programs.

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