“We’ve tried a few things with McKinley,” says outreach program manager Sam Guerrero. “Even though they’re located right across the street, it has been tricky to engage them after school because many of the kids have jobs, or they have to go take care of younger siblings. So this year we teamed up with art teacher at McKinley Eren Star Padilla and her Art Club. These are kids that have already expressed some interest in art and desire to pursue it out of the classroom.”
The museum’s outreach staff has been working with McKinley students since launching its neighborhood outreach program in 2003. This school year, Guerrero has students meeting with a different teaching artist every two weeks, which allows the aspiring artists to explore different mediums. So far they’ve worked with air-dry clay and large-scale sculpture, and last week instructor Hannah Shun introduced them to metal art. All of these mediums require resources and studios with specific kinds of equipment to which these students might otherwise not have access.
“I tried to select artists whose personal practice I thought would be interesting to that age group,” says Guerrero. “The artists come in, introduce themselves and their works, and then lead the students in making their own projects. So far it seems to really be resonating with the kids.”
When asked what kind of art making they liked best so far, three students said metal art. You couldn’t wipe the grin off of Shun’s face with a sand blaster.
After filing into the metal studio, the students were instructed to draw anything they like. Some students drew flowers, others drew figures, and one drew a wheel. “I think he’s trying to comment on how life is always in motion,” joked Padilla. She was immediately one-upped when another student chimed in, “I think he’s trying to say he’s tired.” Once they finished their drawings they traced them onto metal sheets and used wooden implements to give their drawings depth—a practice called chasing and repoussé technique commonly used in creating jewelry.
“I’ve been in Art Club for three years now,” says junior Haruki Jackson. “I’ve always had some connection to art, my mom is in the fine arts, my brother dances, and I’ve been in art classes since elementary school. I came to this metal working studio for the first time through the club, and ever since then I’ve always loved being here. Recently we opened up a metal studio at school, which is super exciting.”
“The relationship we have with the museum’s Art School is a huge benefit to the kids as individuals,” says Padilla. “Quite a few of the students end up taking classes here. It’s wonderful to show these kids that they can be professional artists, and that there are places nearby that they can access and get a variety of experiences that our art department might not be able to do. I think it’s also important that we’re able make art outside of the classroom. It gives students the freedom to create art without having to worry about a grade or assessment attached to it.”