Museum brings youth art to JP

(Photo by Rishi Sidhu) Johnetta Tinker, director of community programs at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, looks at a dragon sculpture at the African American Master Artists-in-Residence Program.

By Rishi Sidhu

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is exhibiting artwork created by Boston area youth in the studios of the Northeastern University affiliated African American Master Artists-in-Residence Program (AAMARP) at 76 Atherton St. through June 27.

The exhibit, titled “Community Creations,” is the culmination of the Fenway museum’s Community Partnership Program. The program links six Boston based community organizations in an initiative that brings youths ages 7-18 to the Gardner Museum once a month for two hours of museum-going and art creation over the course of the school year.

“I want them to feel comfortable coming into a museum setting,” said Johnetta Tinker, director of community programs at the museum.  “We want the kids to be ongoing museum-goers.”

Tinker coordinates the students’ museum visits with what they are learning in their organizations. Then, towards exhibition time, the students compose artwork inspired by what they saw in the Gardner Museum. The works on display this year range from a flashing silver dragon made from recyclable and natural materials to brightly colored paintings of plants and flowers.

Other artworks on display include three-dimensional pop-up books made by JP’s Peace Drum Project; a multi-layer collage depicting 13 queens made by students at the Mother Caroline Academy; personalized boxes made out of clay composed by Dorchester Alternative School; and a mosaic-like combination of paintings and written memories of the museum by SquashBusters, according to a museum press release.

At the June 3 opening reception, students, program leaders, teachers and community members mingled in the white-walled and expansive fourth-floor studio space of AAMARP, while the younger students of one of the community organizations, the Mother Caroline Academy, took a section of the exhibition space to string beads together and play away the time.

Other Boston-based community organizations that participated in the Community Partnership Program include Fenway High School and the Hawthorne Youth and Community Center.

The exhibit is usually held at the Gardner Museum, but is being held at the studios of AAMARP because of museum renovations.  The AAMARP hours are noon-4 pm daily or by appointment. For more information, call 617-323-3329.

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