Visual Learners: Outreach Collaborations is an exhibition that chronicles the collaborative process between teaching artists Mary Tepper and Shannon Kerrigan and the North Kenwood Oakland Charter School students. The exhibition showcased recent quilting and 2D projects that unite the curriculum content of the elementary school students’ studies with the visual arts. Working with fourth and fifth grade students at the University of Chicago’s North Kenwood Oakland Charter School during the 2008-09 school year, Chicago-based artists Shannon Kerrigan and Mary Tepper led two groups of students to create watercolor paintings and sculptures, or quilts that integrate poetry and mathematics with art. Reflecting on the program, Kerrigan explains, “I really wanted to find ways to tap into the interests of the students while providing a discourse that encouraged engagement and problem solving. I also wanted to find a balance between introducing contemporary art practices and giving an understanding of the history of cultural production and how we fit into that as makers. I also wanted to find a balance between introducing contemporary art practices and giving an understanding of the history of cultural production and how we fit into that as makers.”
Initiated in 1984, the Hyde Park Art Center’s Community Outreach Programs serve nearly 4,000 individuals annually through visual art workshops and classes at Chicago Public Schools, youth and community centers, and public housing developments throughout the city. These thriving programs are improving test scores, training teachers, reinforcing school curricula, and teaching positive life skills, creative problem-solving, and high quality visual art techniques.