This year we welcomed twenty-four 10th graders to the Parsons Scholars Program! They began orientation by meeting their Youth Advocates Sophia Mak and Deja Holden who led them through community building activities with college Mentors Jeanette Torres Molina and Sherleen Montan. This was followed by family day where parents and families were invited to learn about the program and meet the Scholars as a cohort. Throughout the semester Scholars explored their own identity and the power of story-telling through various sketchbook projects and artist presentations. They shared poems about places they identified with, created a collaborative project exploring their personal cultural identities, visited the Brooklyn Art Libraries Sketchbook Museum, and investigated the power of memes to communicate anti-oppressive messages.. Through a trip to the Artist in Residence Open Studios program at the Studio Museum in Harlem, scholars learned about the museum, what a residency is, and about artists E. Jane, Naudline Pierre, and Elliot Reed. They visited the studio of Naudline Pierre and discussed how studio spaces are “curated”, how artists organize their own work space, and how viewers experience the artists process in the studio. Later in the semester artist and educator Jeannette Rodríguez Píneda visited the sophomore Scholars to create linoleum block prints focused on memories and the ways that identity is performed. Students enjoyed learning this new subtractive technique as a way to mass produce meaningful handmade images.
In March, Scholars continued to build community online as social distancing rules went into effect due to Covid-19. The sophomores took this time together to create quarantine monster drawings that reflected their feelings in response to the pandemic. Through break out rooms and zoom meetings they discussed the impact the pandemic had on them individually and collectively. Revisiting the sketchbook, they began making drawings of each other indoors and participating in the PSP 100-day sketchbook challenge run by senior Mentor Emily Xie, #psp100sketches In the final weeks of programming the new cohort learned about performance art through artist talks, art historical references, group discussion, and guided activity with artist Eliott Reed- one of the artists they learned about at their field trip to the Studio Museum. Students experimented with new media as an art form they can explore at home to engage with contemporary issues. For their final project Scholars produced works that combined digital photography, drawing, and performance to reflect aspects of their personal experiences at home during the pandemic.