Dr. Preston Bautista Community Arts Team Member & Deputy Director for Public Programs and Audience Engagement, Indianapolis Museum of Art
We hope that we are responding to and answering the growing need for cultural organizations like the IMA to take on a larger role as arts educators in the community. As arts education faces cutbacks across the country, the IMA recognizes how essential connections with the arts are, in particular for the youngest and most at risk.
“Are you like me?” a preschooler asks as he peers into the in-gallery workshop located within the featured exhibition
Gustave Baumann, German Craftsman- American Artist. His question is directed at Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) artist-in-residence, Leslie Dolin, who is working on woodblocks for printing. Leslie replies that she is not quite sure and the preschooler responds, “I work like Gustave.”
I share this story because it highlights several educational initiatives that we have recently launched at the IMA and represents a path that we are paving to support arts education through future programs at the IMA. The preschooler in the story was on a first name basis with the featured artist, Gustave Baumann, because this student attends the first-ever on-campus preschool at the IMA and he had made several trips to the featured exhibition. In fact, along with others from his class, he had made nearly
daily visits to the exhibition because the students were interested in Gustave’s prints and marionettes, and they were examining Gustave’s work in order to inform their own printmaking and theater projects in their classroom.
Notably, the preschoolers participated in a special session with artist-in-residence Leslie Dolin, who is an Indianapolis-based artist and graduate of Herron School of Art and Design, to experience her woodblock printmaking process and to make their own monoprints. Leslie’s workshop in the galleries represents another first-ever for the IMA. She was selected as the IMA’s first-ever artist-in-residence within a major exhibition space. During exhibition hours, Leslie’s workshop becomes a classroom for guests visiting the exhibition. She answers questions, demonstrates the woodblock printmaking process that Baumann would have used, and facilitates workshops for guests to make their own prints.
The preschool and the artist-in-residence programs that I have identified here represent the exceptional experiences we aim for at the IMA in order to engage multiple audiences and hopefully help make the arts accessible and meaningful through educational opportunities. They represent a recent shift at the IMA toward an audience engagement approach that places central the role of learning objectives in the design of our exhibitions, programs, and interpretation strategies.
These types of programs are also a welcome addition to what has already been a long history of providing educational access to the Museum. A few examples of school-age group experiences at the IMA include:
Viewfinders, a school program that offers teachers training and support in using Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) in their classrooms; IMA: After School, an on-site after-school program that provides interdisciplinary experiences for students grades K-12 that develop their creative problem solving skills and help encourage expression through visual art; and Toddler Art Groups (TAG), a program with partnering preschools in which youth ages 3 to 5 visit the Museum monthly to explore art through storytelling, dramatic play, music, art making, and art hunts in the galleries. TAG is supported by a grant from the PNC Foundation.
Through these types of programs, we hope that we are responding to and answering the growing need for cultural organizations like the IMA to take on a larger role as arts educators in the community. As arts education faces cutbacks across the country, the IMA recognizes how essential connections with the arts are, in particular for the youngest and most at risk. As such, the IMA eagerly participates in the
Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child work currently underway with the common goal to provide equity and access in arts education for all students.
About the Author
Dr. Bautista has served as Deputy Director for Public Programs and Audience Engagement at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where he was initially hired as Director of Audience Engagement in 2011. In his current role, he oversees the Museum’s curatorial, education, interpretation, and programs departments, as well as design and the library. He has also held positions at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Japanese American National Museum, the Getty Foundation, and the Getty Museum. Dr. Bautista holds a PhD in Art History from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
Social Media Links:
Voices for Any Given Child Indy is an initiative that gives leaders in the Indianapolis community the opportunity to focus on issues in arts education and in the community, as well as their personal investment in the success of Any Given Child Indy. Be on the look out for new posts from community leaders on anygivenchildindy.org.