Teen to Screen
by Susan Diachisin, Manager of Interpretive Programs, DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park
DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Parks innovative programTeen to Screenlinks youth to sculpture through film. Located near Boston, the Park encompasses 35 acres of rolling woodlands and lawns and provides a changing exhibition of large-scale, outdoor, contemporary American sculpture. It is the largest of its kind in New England and currently is home to 80 sculptures.
Teen to Screen is a collaborative project between DeCordova Museum, Moody Street Pictures, and Waltham High School. It takes the form of a year-long accredited course at the WHS with students from grades 10 through 12 taught by art teacher Ginger Connearney. The focus of the course is for students to learn about the sculptures in the Park and make short videos about them for DeCordovas Web site.
Staff and faculty from all three organizations teach the student-directed course, which runs twice a week and after school. From the museums perspective, this program was developed to create an interpretive tool that could reach a broad audience while providing a solid youth voice and perspective in the museums communications. The goal is to provide the students with an authentic, high-quality experience that fosters deep understanding of sculpture. Conceptually, the course is designed to teach students the transitions of moving from 2D to 4D through direct experience.
The students are bused to the museum to look at and interpret sculpture through writing, touring, photographing, and making sculpture. They also research their sculpture by reading articles and artists statements, watching videos, and attending an art history lecture. The students may also have the chance to meet the artists to learn about the creative process. After interacting with her first artist, one student wrote, I liked when (sculptor) Kitty Wales came and talked to us. We got to see that she was really down to earth and cool. The students are simultaneously learning to make their videos by designing storyboards, filming, recording audio, and editing. They watch and analyze videos and Web sites and meet filmmakers. In this process, the students become so attached to their subject they come to refer to it as my sculpture.
Teen to Screen touches the lives of young people and opens their eyes in some dramatic ways. One student wrote, Since weve begun this class, Ive noticed that I have been looking at things a lot more and asking questions about where they might have come from. Also, I want to go to more museums and explore outside to look around more than before.
This program is atypical because it requires attention on three levels: administration, teaching and content, and operation of technology and equipment. It was piloted not knowing what the final product would look like. The most difficult thing was not telling the students what to do but guiding them to their own ideas so that their voice and vision are represented. DeCordovas Web site hosts 20 videos produced over the last three years varying in style and content. Equally significant is the satisfaction that the students have developed both a deep appreciation for outdoor sculpture and new, more enlightened ways of looking at the world around them.
For more information, visit DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park's Web site.