This summer TCNJ Art Gallery presented Art, Innovation, and Ideas, an exhibition that showcased 120 exemplary artworks created by New Jersey’s K-12 students. The exhibition, co-organized by Dr. Lisa LaJevic, Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator of Art Education, and Emily Croll, director of TCNJ’s Art Gallery, was on view in the Art and Interactive Multimedia (AIMM) Building from June 2 through June 23, 2013. More than 430 artworks submitted to Art, Innovation, and Ideas submissions were reviewed by a jury of contemporary artists, curators, and educators, including internationally acclaimed artist, illustrator, and author Faith Ringgold.
Ringgold, most known for her painted story quilts, has works in the permanent collections of many museums including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has received innumerable awards including twenty two honorary doctorates. She is a devoted advocate for art education and has illustrated sixteen children’s books, eleven of which she also authored. Other jurors include New Jersey artist and educator Aylin Green; Baltimore-based sculptor and fine artist Christine Tillman; painter and director of Art Collaborations in Princeton Heather Barros; and TCNJ Gallery Director Emily Croll.
The goal of Art, Innovation, and Ideas was to connect student learning and art to current real world issues. The exhibition aimed to exhibit meaningful two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and media artworks and to recognize efforts by New Jersey art educators to push the boundaries of the arts in K-12 schools. Dr. LaJevic has commented, “As the world is changing, it is vital that arts pedagogy and curriculum reflects the world in which we live. As such, I support innovative art making that connects student learning and art to the real world, academic subjects, social issues, big ideas, and/or contemporary art.”
The art submissions, which were received from more than 100 cities and towns across the state, were reviewed based on the following criteria: student creativity; concept behind the work; ability to communicate an important message, story, or thought; and innovation. Preference was given to artworks that challenge the traditional boundaries of the visual arts in K-12 schools and fulfill the mission of the exhibition to connect student learning to real life.
Faith Ringgold began her artistic career in the early 1960s as a painter. Today, she is best known for her painted story quilts — art that combines painting on quilted canvas, and storytelling– and her illustrated children’s books. Her first book, Tar Beach, was a Caldecott Honor Book and winner of the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration, among numerous other honors. She currently lives in Englewood, New Jersey and is Professor Emeriti at the University of California in San Diego. She is married to Burdette Ringgold and has two daughters, Michele and Barbara Wallace; and three granddaughters, Faith, Theodora and Martha. Ringgold is represented by Dorian and Jeff Bergen at ACA Galleries in New York City.
Currently the Membership Director at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ where she has worked since 2001, Aylin Green holds a Masters of Ed from Tufts University in Boston, MA, and a BFA in Sculpture from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Aylin has exhibited her mixed media paintings and cast metal sculpture at galleries and art centers throughout the region including Philadelphia, Princeton, and Trenton. As an educator, she has taught classes for adults and children in a variety of media from experimental to traditional and in a range of educational settings including private studios, city and county programs, public schools, and art centers. Aylin is a resident of Lambertville, NJ.
Christine Tillman is primarily a very flat sculptor who draws more often than she makes sculptures. Her main interests as an artist lie in ideas surrounding the handmade, celebrations, and man-made interpretations of natural forms. Tillman earned her MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Iowa and lives and works in Baltimore, MD. She is a member of the Drawing Center Viewing Program, Transformer Flatfile, and received a 2010 Maryland State Arts Council Grant for her Works on Paper. She is a member of the Upper School Faculty at the Park School of Baltimore.
Heather Barros directs Art Collaborations, an art school in Princeton offering year-round classes for children, teens and adults. Heather began teaching children at the Arts Council of Princeton in 1990. She directed art programs and summer art camps at the Arts Council, Montgomery Cultural Center, Charter School of Princeton, and now with Art Collaborations. Heather studied oil painting with Gregory Perkel for ten years. She paints every day, en plein air every week.
“I’ve visited art museums around the world and I’ve seen some of the greatest art ever made, but children’s art work is still my favorite genre. I once thought that if I surrounded myself with children’s art long enough that I could do it as well. I’m not even close.”