WFU students create art exhibit, K-12 educational program to open at Grolier Club, travel nationwide
October 13, 2008
Through a unique hands-on, interdisciplinary entrepreneurship project, more than 40 students, faculty and staff members from Wake Forest University are creating a Cuban bilingual art exhibition and educational outreach program from concept to completion.
The exhibit, titled “Cuban Artists’ Books and Prints: 1985-2008,” is based on more than 100 handmade books by Cuban artists. It will debut at the Grolier Club of New York in May 2009 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. The Museum of Modern Art, the Cuban Artists Fund Organization and the Grolier Club are also working with the students to develop several collaborative events that will be held in conjunction with the exhibit.
In August 2009, the exhibit will make its campus debut at Wake Forest’s Charlotte & Philip Hanes Art Gallery, and then it will begin traveling to galleries nationwide.
The exhibition will feature handmade books by at least 13 different Cuban painters, sculptors, photographers and printmakers, and books from the bookmaking cooperative Ediciones Vigía. The exhibit will also include supplemental documentary materials, videos, texts and photographs.
The Cuba project, initiated by Linda Howe, associate professor of Romance languages at Wake Forest, received a $12,500 grant from the Reed Foundation as well as additional funding from other sources to fund the project.
Work began on the project last spring. A small group of Wake Forest students began researching the project in informal sessions with Howe, and another group worked with Gordon McCray, executive associate dean of Wake Forest’s Calloway School of Business and Accountancy, and Bob Knott, professor of art emeritus, to create business plans.
Over the summer, students worked with Paul Bright, assistant director of the Hanes Gallery, to photograph all the books and objects in the exhibition for use in a bilingual exhibition catalogue, on a Web site and in other promotional materials.
This fall, the project teams are intensively working on executing the exhibition. In Howe’s course “Entrepreneurship in Art Education and Educational Outreach: Cuban Artists’ Books and Prints: 1985-2008,” students are organizing the content of the exhibit, coordinating its installation, launch and eventual travel, and creating educational outreach materials and curriculum. Three students in the class are also working with Max Negin, a lecturer in the communications department, to create a short film about the Cuban artists represented in the show. The film will become a permanent part of the exhibit.
Several students are also working with North Carolina teachers and administrators to integrate the exhibit into K-12 instruction through classroom materials, exhibit tours, performances and other activities. Students recently met with teachers at a conference of the Foreign Language Association of North Carolina and brainstormed about ways to incorporate bookmaking projects, the exhibit and accompanying educational tools into K-12 curriculum. As part of the final exhibit, the curriculum ideas and outreach materials generated from the meeting will be offered to K-12 teachers across the country.
Other students outside Howe’s class are working with Roy Carter, assistant professor of art, to create a bilingual, interactive Web site that will allow the community to learn more about the Cuban world and to be a portal for the educational materials.
“This project has been somewhat of a phenomenon,” said Howe. “I’ve noticed an unusual amount of excitement among everyone involved. The students are finding the project to be a stimulating way to reach outside their comfort zones. They connect with each other, with the local community and with another part of the world, and, at the same time, learn about Cuba and the value of other cultures. We faculty and staff on the project are invigorated by the students’ excitement. It is truly becoming an incomparable educational experience.”
Michele Gillespie, associate provost and associate professor of history at Wake Forest, believes that students are gaining this invaluable experience by not only applying a rigorous academic understanding to designing and interpreting the art in this exhibit, but also planning every stage of the project. “Students understand how their individual efforts and areas of disciplinary expertise contribute to a project that is so much grander and more influential than any single student or class could produce on its own,” said Gillespie. “At Wake Forest, we pride ourselves on providing an education that is characterized by such close faculty mentoring, vision and commitment, and an insistence on making a difference.”
The project is sponsored by the Wake Forest departments of Romance languages, art and Latin American studies; Provost’s Office; Dean of the College; Calloway School of Business and Accountancy; and Office of Entrepreneurship and Liberal Studies.