A Year with Children 2021, an Exhibition of Over One Hundred Artworks by New York City Public School Students, Opens April 30

Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of its landmark education program, Learning Through Art (LTA), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum proudly presents the annual exhibition A Year with Children 2021. On view April 30 through June 21, A Year with Children 2021 showcases select works of art by New York City public school students in grades two through six who participated in LTA during the 2020–21 school year. Over one hundred collages, drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures, objects, and installations will be on display. These works represent 11 schools across the five boroughs and were created during classroom residencies with professional teaching artists.

Cyra Levenson, Deputy Director and Gail Engelberg Director of Education and Public Engagement at the Guggenheim, stated, “The Learning Through Art program was founded on the belief that art education is fundamental to the growth and development of all students. The commitment to this idea has remained steadfast for the past fifty years. Now, more than ever, we must communicate to young people that we value their unique points of view, and that we believe they should be seen and heard in our cultural institutions and beyond. We invite the public to share this vision when visiting the LTA exhibition.”

A Year with Children 2021 marks the return of this annual exhibition in the galleries of the museum. Responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the spring of 2020, the Guggenheim published a digital book of student artwork in place of presenting an exhibition. During the 2020–21 school year, teachers and teaching artists addressed the ongoing challenges of the pandemic by developing virtual partnerships. This ensured that students were continually engaged through art in their online or in-person classrooms during this particularly uncertain time in their lives. With school budgets significantly cut, the Guggenheim also waived the school participation fee.

Program Overview

The Guggenheim’s LTA program was founded in 1970 by Natalie Kovner Lieberman in response to the elimination of art and music programs in New York City public schools. LTA encourages curiosity, critical thinking, and collaborative investigation at the museum, in the classroom, and beyond, and has served nearly 150,000 children over the last fifty years. In the 2020¬–21 school year, 11 teaching artists facilitated 16 residencies in 11 New York City public schools. They worked closely with classroom teachers to develop projects that promote visual literacy and connect ideas and themes to the school’s curriculum.

LTA immerses students in the creative process, prompting them to view themselves as artists. At the start of the academic year, each student is given a sketchbook, imbuing them with a sense of ownership over their work. Even while conducting lessons virtually over Zoom, teaching artists were able to guide students in inventive investigations, often using only the materials and inspiration found around their homes. Throughout the program, teaching artists demonstrate practices similar to those that they use to spark their own imaginations. Students’ investigations are also inspired by the art in the Guggenheim’s exhibitions and collection. When viewing art, students participate in inquiry-based discussions that elicit careful observation and interpretation.

This year’s participating schools are: from the Bronx, PS 86 (Kingsbridge Heights); from Brooklyn, PS 8 (Brooklyn Heights); from Manhattan, PS 28 (Washington Heights), PS 38 (East Harlem), and PS 145 (Harlem); from Queens, PS 219 (Flushing), PS 130 (Bayside), PS 144 (Forest Hills), PS 349 (Jamaica) and PS 317 (Rockaway Park); and from Staten Island, PS 48 (Grasmere).

A Year with Children 2021 is organized by Greer Kudon, Director of School, Youth, and Family Programs; Amy Boyle, Senior Manager, School Programs; Michelle Wohlgemuth Cooper, Associate Manager, School Partnerships; and Lara Tootleman, Education Associate, School Programs.

Exhibition Highlights

Puppet Portraiture
Grade 3, Staten Island
Teaching Artist: Diane Matyas

Studying duality in nature and emotions, students learned about different collage methods and considered the question, “How can we portray different sides of ourselves through art?” Students discussed philosophy and the concept of yin and yang, complimentary colors, as well as the opposing emotions of joy and melancholy, and sadness and laughter. For their final projects, students made puppets by covering milk jugs and other containers from home to with cut or torn tissue paper to create a “skin” on these household objects. The contrasting faces on their puppets allowed students to mix and overlay translucent colors to create stories and puppet personalities with “joys and worries” that were unique and expressive.

Everyday Object Sculptures
Grade 3, Brooklyn
Teaching Artist: Anna Martin

“Curious about how to be an artist–anthropologist?” The teaching artist prompted her students to answer this question as well as “How can we use art to explore culture?” Students learned about culture by studying artwork by artists like Gabriel Orozco and Danh Vo that were inspired by food, music, and nature, as well as celebrations, common objects, and current events. As a result of this creative investigation, they became more aware of the variety of cultural production and gained a greater understanding of the connection between culture and identity. Looking to artists who utilize objects in their work, such as Louise Bourgeois and Peter Fischli and David Weiss, students used accessible everyday objects from their homes and tools of personification and arrangement to create their final sculpture, which they documented through photography.

Window Connections
Grade 4, Bronx
Teaching Artist: Jeff Hopkins

Students, inspired by the digital windows of Zoom and Google Classroom, designed a window of a large apartment building, complete with characters and depictions of interiors. The students’ creations answered the question, “How might I show my characters practicing kindness and respect to their neighbors?” The windows visualize the characters interacting, helping each other, and connecting from a distance. In preparation for their final project, students practiced composition, character and architectural design, and figure drawing. They also participated in acting, posing, and storytelling activities to better embody their characters. The students collaborated in Photoshop to construct buildings for their windows, directing the size, shape, color, and details.

Fantasy Spaces
Grade 5, Manhattan
Teaching Artist: Sharela Bonfield

Students channeled their feelings of isolation, sadness, and frustration caused by the pandemic into creative concepts for their very own fantasy spaces. Inspired by artists such as Marc Chagall and Shigetaka Kurita, students designed digital collages of imaginary environments using tools such as the virtual paintbrush and marker, and the insert-image function. Through integration of interests such as animals, travel, and nature, students unveiled their personalities in these fantastical digital collages.

Superpower Masks PS 349
Grade 2, Queens
Teaching Artist: Rosemary Taylor

Students virtually traveled the world as they studied the colorful history of masking and masquerade. Viewing, drawing, and analyzing masks from Sierra Leone, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, and New Orleans, students learned about celebrations and how masks can be used to celebrate various occasions such as freedom, religious holidays, marriage, birth, and death. They also discussed contemporary African masks made with a variety of found and recyclable materials and viewed works by the artist Romuald Hazoumè, whose dynamic use of materials and color was very exciting for student exploration. Drawing inspiration from these examples, students considered details such as facial expression as they began to construct masks of their own. Once completed, students wrote short character descriptions about their masks, describing their superpower, where they are from, and on what occasions they would wear them.

For more information about LTA, visit guggenheim.org/lta.

Learning Through Art and A Year with Children 2021 are generously supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Additional funding is provided by Guggenheim Partners, LLC; The Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Foundation; Gail May Engelberg and The Engelberg Foundation; The Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation; Libby and Daniel Goldring; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; The Keith Haring Foundation; Anna Kovner and Seth Meisel; Con Edison; the Sidney E. Frank Foundation; JPMorgan Chase; the Sylvia W. and Randle M. Kauders Foundation; the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, Inc.; The Durst Organization; the Henry E. Niles Foundation, Inc.; Paycom Software, Inc.; and an anonymous donor.

The Leadership Committee for Learning Through Art and A Year with Children 2021 is gratefully acknowledged for its support.

Visitor Information

Admission: Adults $25, students/seniors (65+) $18, members and children under 12 free. Open Thursdays through Mondays from 11 am to 6 pm. Pay What You Wish hours are Saturdays from 4 to 6 pm, with free admission on select Saturdays. Timed tickets are required and available at guggenheim.org/tickets. Explore the Guggenheim with our free Digital Guide, a part of the Bloomberg Connects app. Find it in the Apple App Store or in the Google Play Store.

The Guggenheim is implementing health and safety measures in consideration of visitors and employees and in compliance with New York State and City guidelines. Face masks are mandatory inside the museum for anyone over the age of two. New requirements should be reviewed in advance of a visit; they are posted on COVID-19 Safety Measures: What to Expect When Visiting.

#LearningThroughArt

Sixth grade students from P.S. 59 visiting artist Keith Haring’s studio in Soho as part of an ‘ART ALIVE’ workshop sponsored by Learning Through Art/The Guggenheim Museum Children’s Program. Photo by Michele Perel © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.