The Mobile Projects Unit's program, Picture This, creates a cycle of learning that circulates students through exhibitions at University Galleries, provides classroom instruction related to artwork on exhibit, and offers students an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned as they display their own works during a public exhibition at University Galleries. Picture This is research-driven and based upon Illinois Learning Standards for Fine Arts. This program will take place during the 2011-2012 academic year.
Picture This incorporates contemporary art and recent developments in teaching to establish a positive environment for creativity and personal exploration. At its core, the project provides visual literacy tools for youth to see meaning in the images around them. For many, looking for the "art of the everyday" is a wholly new way of seeing the world. Pop-up ads on a computer screen or photographs kept in a family photo album may have limited "artistic" value, but for the Mobile Projects Unit, we see these images as subjects of inquiry and study, much as an anthropologist would. Our process uses a combination of experiential and collaborative learning to reflect upon the nature of these images—their design, origin, purpose, and cultural value—to devise ways of making new images and new meaning through artistic inquiry and creation. We enable students to reflect upon their personal experiences—aspects of their daily lives—as their subject matter. In a sense, participants must become "researchers" of their own lives by thinking about who they are in the context of the world around them. The end result of Picture This is that students become active in their culture, becoming producers and not simply consumers of the culture that they are immersed in every day.
Picture This is tied directly to two photography exhibitions at University Galleries. The first, The Truth is Not in the Mirror: Photography and a Constructed Identity (August 16 – October 16, 2011), is a major survey of 23 contemporary photographers. The second, The Will to Believe in Something More, by the Borderland Collective (January 17 – February 19, 2012), features documentary photographs taken by youth in the borderlands between Texas and Mexico. Lessons created for both exhibitions include projects on identity, culture, the physics of light, and photography's history. Each lesson is designed to help students to "picture" themselves and their community. In order to complete the cycle of learning, the students are able to see the results of their development as they view their own images on display during the 2012 summer exhibition at University Galleries.
University Galleries has received generous support from the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation and Target. The Mirza Arts and Culture Fund of the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation provides field trip assistance for up to 8 rural junior and/or senior high schools from within the Regional Office of Education District #17. In addition to field trip support for qualifying schools (e.g. bussing, fuel, substitute costs, etc.), programming includes lesson programming presented in the classroom by an art professional, in addition to a Gallery 1 exhibition for participating students during the Summer of 2012. Support from Target provides cameras and materials used during the project. Although Picture This is open to any regional school, field trip money is designated for rural schools only.
Please contact University Galleries to become involved or call 309.438.5487.