Exhibition documents students' experiences in pilot program between Beacon City Schools and Dia's new art museum in Beacon, opening May 2003

Jun 03, 2002

Exhibition documents students' experiences in pilot program between Beacon City Schools and Dia's new art museum in Beacon, opening May 2003

Dia Art Foundation's new museum, Dia:Beacon, and the Beacon City Schools host a reception to celebrate the opening of an exhibition of work by students participating in the Dia:Beacon/Beacon High School collaborative class.

Opening reception: Monday, June 10, 6-8 pm
The exhibition is open to the public from Saturday, June 8, through Thursday, June 13.

The new Beacon High School, 101 Mattewan Road, Beacon, New York

The works in the exhibition draw on and document the students' experiences in the course, called "Contemporary Art: History, Landscape, and Making," developed as a pilot for Dia:Beacon's arts-in-education program. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a large-scale, site-specific sculpture designed and built by the students. The show also includes individual works by each student.

The artworks engage a variety of media, including wire, cement, wood, mirror, and pin-hole camera photography. Working with teacher Cynthia Petrovits and teaching artist Jaanika Peerna, the students took inspiration from Beacon's history, their own experiences, and artists represented in Dia's collection, including Joseph Beuys, Robert Irwin, and Robert Smithson. While the individual works reflect personal concerns and stories, the collaborative projects explore themes of growth, movement, and change.

Arts-In-Education Program
Contemporary Art, nicknamed "Dia Art" by the students, is the first step in a long-term partnership between the Beacon school system and Dia:Beacon. The district-wide program uses the new museum-including the art on display, the architecture, and the landscape-as a resource for local children, offering students in Beacon's elementary, middle, and high school art experiences that are not typically part of the schools' syllabi. The Dia-supported curricula include visits to the museum, hands-on activities, and guest lectures.

During the course of the spring 2002 semester, students in the pilot course visited Dia:Beacon, following the construction of the museum and the early stages of art installation. The class examined the museum in relation to the history of Beacon, the surrounding landscape, and contemporary art. The students also worked with environmental artist George Trakas, who is creating a site-specific work at Beacon Landing, adjacent to the museum. They created oral-history projects, designed interpretive maps of their communities, gathered earth and water samples to use for scientific description and as raw material, and explored the work of artists in Dia's collection.

During the 2002-2003 school year, Dia will expand the high school program to include additional research-based arts curricula offered as modules of multi-disciplinary courses. Dia will also launch the elementary school program. Integrated into the classroom work of the second grade, this curriculum, which focuses on "learning to look," or developing skills of observation, will introduce every student in the grade to Dia and its collection. In 2003-2004, Dia will begin to work with Beacon's Rombout Middle School in a program that joins writing and personal expression with visits to Dia:Beacon.

Funding for the 2001-2002 pilot has been generously provided by a member of Dia's Beacon Art Council. Dia Art Foundation is currently assembling support for the fully developed program from government agencies, private foundations, and individuals.

Dia Art Foundation
Dia Art Foundation is dedicated to commissioning, supporting, presenting, and preserving contemporary works of art, and to serving as a locus for interdisciplinary critical discourse and performance. Dia was established in the 1970s in response to radical changes in artistic practice that were redefining the nature of art. These changes yielded work that was sometimes epic in scale, often site-specific, and occasionally ephemeral-virtually precluding traditional institutional support. The nonprofit Dia maintains its commitment to artwork that is not likely to be presented by conventional museums, and to supporting individual artists in the realization of singular projects.

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For additional information or materials contact:
Press Department, Dia Art Foundation, press@diaart.org or 212 293 5518

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