A generous grant from the Davis Educational Foundation is recognizing Montserrat College of Art’s creative teaching style, developed by the college’s academic leadership team, which emphasizes learning that is interdisciplinary, team-taught and project-based.
Last spring the Davis Foundation announced that Montserrat would receive a $150,000 grant over two years for the Gateway project, which emphasizes this experiential teaching style.
The grant will provide funding for two new programs that serve, respectively, as gateways into and out of college. Funding will support the two parts of the Gateway Initiative, including: planning, implementation, outcome assessment and, creation of curricular models (best practices, guidelines, handbooks, documentation, templates, online resources) for future use.
Montserrat College of Art President Steve Immerman said, “Montserrat recognizes the need to go beyond the traditional classroom structure to introduce experiences that relate directly to those students will encounter in their professional lives. We are grateful to the Davis Foundation for providing this opportunity to offer new teaching methods to Montserrat students.”
1. FX (the Freshman Experience)
Offered to freshman in the first semester, FX serves as a gateway from high school into college. The course is team-taught, interdisciplinary, and integrates studio practice with historical and cultural analysis. Methodologies from studio art and liberal arts (particularly art history) are combined to provide a holistic introduction to the visual arts while helping students to acclimate to college-level academic and studio work. This combination of rich content and tactile experience is designed to fully engage students as visual learners. The aim is to break down preconceptions about art, art making, and contemporary studio practice.
This 3-credit course features a closely coordinated series of lectures, museum/gallery/studio visits, research, writing, class discussions, team-based and individual projects. Small group meetings for discussion, research, and studio immersion complement three keystone lectures and field trips to the Peabody Essex Museum, Mass MOCA and New York City. The course is designed to function in the way that artists interact with the world, across disciplines at the intersections of research, writing, collaborating, current culture, and making.
2. StudioXL (the Studio for Experiential Learning)
StudioXL serves as a gateway out of college and into the professional world. It provides students with a series of carefully structured opportunities, offered outside the traditional classroom/studio, that build skills such as team-work, collaboration, project management, and working between disciplines in real world settings. Some, if not all projects, will have community partners, bolstering our relationships with the local and regional businesses and community-based organizations that fuel the creative economy of the North Shore.
The college has appointed Kate Luchini, formerly of the Lynn Museum and Peabody Essex Museum, as the director of Studio XL.
The enormously successful pilot project in StudioXL was a team-taught collaboration with Footprint Power at Salem Harbor Station. Montserrat structured it a course called Across the Bridge: Three Perspectives, it combined fieldwork, research and art making. Students examined and documented the decommissioning of the coal-powered Salem Harbor Power Plant, now Footprint Power, which funded the project. Thirty students guided by three faculty members developed a visual and narrative legacy of the plant and the community of people who worked there, through writings, paintings, photography and video, sculpture and installation, and design. The project culminated in an exhibition in the turbine hall in June 2014 that was seen by more than 1000 visitors; it concluded with an evening poetry reading among the turbines, which was organized by the director of the Impossible Places Poetry Tour. That night the turbines sounded for the last time and the dismantling began the following day.
The second StudioXL project for fall 2014 is a course called Food and Culture. In contrast to the power plant project, this course was initiated in-house; it combines cultural history, research into food economies and politics, resulting in the production of creative work. Among the local partners are the Food Project and Beverly Bees.
More collaborations are being planned for future semesters.
Published by College Relations Intern Josh Ramsey