Artists Residency Allows Middle Schoolers to Explore West African Art

Exhibition of students works will be displayed in the STAR Gallery at the Mint Museum Randolph

Seventh grade students at Whitewater Middle School will have their artwork displayed in the Student Artist (STAR) Gallery at the Mint Museum Randolph as part of a grant-funded artists’ residency project that took place this winter. The exhibition of the students’ work will open with a public reception honoring the teaching artists and participating students on Saturday, March 20 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. at the Museum.

“The Mint has enjoyed a successful partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for more than 30 years,” said School Programs Coordinator Joel Smeltzer. “Each year the talent and creativity exhibited by our local students is nothing short of remarkable. We are grateful to the Arts & Science Council and the Cobb Foundation for supporting innovative teaching programs like this one to help promote appreciation and awareness of visual arts education.”

In January, The Mint Museum partnered with Whitewater Middle School, a new public school in west Charlotte, to implement an integrated art and social studies program in conjunction with the special exhibition Loïs Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color (November 14, 2009-February 27, 2010). This exhibition featured paintings that synthesized African, Caribbean, American and African-American iconography and motifs. Working with two native African artists—Braima Moiwai of Durham and Dimeji Onafuwa of Charlotte—nearly 200 seventh grade social studies and visual arts students explored West African cultural beliefs, design motifs and the significance of color and symbolism. They subsequently created paintings and traditional tie-dyed batik cloths incorporating West African symbols. Through this integrated program, the students increased their knowledge and understanding of West African cultural beliefs and values and how they are communicated through the visual arts, and learned to use the elements and principles of design to communicate original cultural ideas.

The exhibition will be displayed in the STAR Gallery at 2730 Randolph Road through April 10, 2010. This project was funded by a Curriculum Connections Grant from the Arts & Science Council, as well as by the Rhoda and Davin Juckett Education Endowment, which is made possible by the Cobb Foundation. The STAR Gallery is supported by Harris Teeter.