Al Zagofsky | November 10, 2011 | Times News
Art Is Education, an exhibition featuring 26 students' artistic interpretations of words beginning with an alphabetic letter opens Saturday, November 12 and runs through Sunday, December 18 at the Victor Stabin Gallery, 268 West Broadway in Jim Thorpe. The exhibition kicks off with an opening reception on Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m.
Earlier this year, artist Victor Stabin of Jim Thorpe received an artist-in-residence grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts to teach 10 three-hour sessions at Panther Valley High School.
Stabin, who had just released Daedal Doodle, a book of his alphabet-themed artwork, had just finished discussing the book's confluence of unusual vocabulary matched to original artwork when he and visual arts educator Kimberlee Burkett noticed that a unique number of students were enrolled in the program.
"It was serendipitous that we had 26 students and we had 26 letters of the alphabet," Burkett said. "Victor came up with the idea, based on his book, that each student would be assigned a letter. They are researching each letter by going to the dictionary and coming up with a list of words they do not know."
"The challenge is to take at least two words they did not know, a noun and an adjective, to combine them, and to create an illustration of the words they discovered based on their letter," Stabin noted.
"I'm asking each of the 26 kids to go through the dictionary, looking up words starting with the assigned letter," Stabin said at the time of the class. "The assignment is to find words that they have no idea what they mean. They read the dictionary and came up with words they never heard before-nouns and adjectives that lend themselves to narratives."
The program's Genesis began when Burkett took a group of art students to the Allentown Art Museum just before to its renovation. Two months later, she received a call from the museum's education manager. "They received grant money from the National Endowment for the Arts to work with a school," Burkett said. "She invited us to take part in an artist-in-residence seminar."
The education manager asked Burkett to think about selecting an artist. "I said I would like to pick someone local so the students could relate to and know and possibly our culminating activity will be to visit his gallery," she said. Burkett had visited Stabin's gallery adjacent to the Flow Restaurant in Jim Thorpe, was impressed with his work, and she offered his name.
Stabin coached each of the 26 students in creating their work-from the selection of alliterative alphabetical words, to the selection of definitions, to the beginnings of an art creation inspired by his eco-surrealistic style, to the reviewing of the composition.
"I recognize the novelty that reading the dictionary to source words for drawing can be an important process to bridge art and language, and once and for all, end the idea of separating the arts from basic education," Stabin said. "Each student I taught proudly came up with nothing short of some dizzying kind of new pictorial word invention."
"Pictures beget words and seamlessly, words tend to beget pictures," Stabin noted.
Stabin has received a second NEA/PCA grant and will be returning to Panther Valley High School in 2012. He has also been invited to exhibit the word and eco-surrealist drawings from his designer alphabet book, Daedal Doodle.
The exhibit is sponsored by the Stabin Morykin Gallery in association with the Jim Thorpe National Bank. For further information, contact the gallery at (917) 209-2699.