On a hot and humid July afternoon at the Shawnee Arts and Cultural Center, the gym is alive with the sounds of basketball - the hard, sharp squeak of shoes on the wood floor and the pounding dribble of the ball up and down the court. But adjacent to the gym, 14 young high school students are working diligently, focused and oblivious to the soundtrack of frenetic activity only a few feet away. They are earning money over the summer - by making art.
Studio 2000 was for several years an initiative of Louisville Metro Parks and Recreation to foster young artists by paying them to create. It was, in effect, a summer job. After a time, it was suspended, but it was resurrected in 2015 as an ongoing partnership between Metro Parks and Louisville Visual Art (LVA). Studio 2000 pairs high school students who aspire to be visual artists with professional artists to work in clay, fiber and mixed media. Each participant receives a $500 stipend at the end of the eight-week session.
The program culminates with a public exhibition and sale on August 3 at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Proceeds from this sale are recycled through Studio 2000 to support future programming.
Managing the program for LVA is Outreach Coordinator Ehren Reed, who reviews the applications and supervises the classes. She is also one of three teachers, along with Simon Gallo and J.D. Schall. Reed works with fibre arts, while Gallo, a printmaker, handles 2-D mixed media and Schall focuses on ceramics. Reed and Schall have participated since LVA became involved three years ago, and this is Gallo’s second year.
Carol Watson, a student at Presentation Academy, applies hot wax with a brush to fabric, part of the Batik process of dying cloth that is a staple of visual arts education. She explains that she is very active in arts in school, and will be the President of Presentation’s chapter of the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) in the coming school year. Next to her, Jenee’ Whitt uses one of two sewing machines to hem a small piece of Shibori-dyed fabric that will become a table decoration. A student at Butler Traditional High School, her ambition is to be a fashion designer, and normally she fills sketchbooks with her ideas, but she has no other access to a sewing machine, so this constitutes a rare opportunity for hands-on fabrication.
Also in the fiber group is Lilah Pudio, who is felting, patiently but steadily working a 6” x 8” field of alpaca with a small tool so that it becomes a handmade piece of fabric. Although she is anxious to make progress, the tool contains several very sharp, barbed needles, so the work demands caution. Only moments after Pudio demonstrates the process, Reed, who is working with the same tool, shouts out after catching her fingertip on a needle, dancing around the room sucking on her wounded digit. Despite the pain, it is a lighthearted moment, and Reed laughs as she explains: “We’re definitely the most dangerous area down here: needles, sewing machines, hot wax!”
There doesn’t appear to be any such risk at the 2-D station, where Simon Gallo oversees a variety of techniques. Ella Gorstein is happily painting multiple images of a corgi that will be sold at the upcoming sale, while DuPont Manual HS student Braeden Helby concentrates on painting an original design on a skateboard deck, although he’s not happy with it right now. “But it’ll get there,” he assures me. “I’ll make it work.” Across the table from him Joachim Uy is sketching a design in a sketchbook. This is the Male Traditional Senior’s second year in Studio 2000, and he understands that he is fortunate to have had the experience. Working now in the final days of the 2017 iteration, he is intent to complete more work. “Make it count,” he says in a low, soft voice.
At the back of the room, four young women are industriously producing work in clay. TaneJa Eden from duPont Manual takes a break to eat a plate of homemade food delivered by her younger sister. Another artist returning for a second year, Eden worked in the 2-D section last year. “But we feel it is important to mix it up for returning students,” explains Clay Instructor Schall. “Give them different experiences.” Interestingly, a common motif in this summer’s ceramics work is the octopus. Elizabeth Hill (Corydon Central HS) is attaching octopus tentacle legs to her box project, while Andrea Priddy (Academy @ Shawnee) is in the last stages of an octopus teapot that is somewhat astonishing. “We all came up with the octopus idea on our own,” Priddy claims shyly. “We all had octopus sketches in our notebooks.” She seems appreciative when I note the suppleness in the shapes that wrap around her form so that the handle and the spout emerge as tentacles.
Joseph Falcon - Academy @ Shawnee
Donielle Panky - Butler Traditional HS
Lilah Pudio - duPont Manual HS
Carol Watson - Presentation Academy
Jenee’ Whitt - Butler Traditional HS
2-D Mixed Media Group
Ella Gorstein - duPont Manual HS
Justina Gossman - Academy @ Shawnee
Braeden Helby - duPont Manual HS
Synclaire Thomas - duPont Manual HS
Joachim Uy - Male HS
TaneJa Eden - duPont Manual HS
Elizabeth Hill - Corydon Central HS
HaYoung Oh - duPont Manual HS
Andrea Priddy - Academy @ Shawnee
Getting Out Of The Studio
This year the program was expanded to encompass public art in the form of a mural executed under the guidance of artist Casey McKinney. A wall on the side of Christ Way Missionary Baptist Church facing Floyd Street had been the target of random graffiti that necessitated costly clean-up, and when the church administrators reached out to LVA because of their MAPped Out program, Ehren Reed thought of beginning a new track for Studio 2000 that covered murals. “I was able to reconfigure the budget to introduce this new element that is so in line with our mission.”
The Studio 2000 mural was conceived and executed by these students:
Grady Gartland - duPont Manual HS
Nina O’Brien - Atherton HS
Milo Quinn - Fern Creek HS
Zavier Stewart - Eastern HS
Olivia Tierney - duPont Manual HS
McKinney gave his young charges a crash course in community murals with visits around town to some of the many mural projects completed in recent years, and the design concept was developed by the students themselves. Their first choices for inspirational message were a bit wordy for a large-scale mural on a schedule, so McKinney encouraged them to search a bit more, and the Robert Ingersoll quote “We Rise By Lifting Others” was selected.
Details of the mural will be reproduced as notecards and available for purchase as part of the sale on August 3.
Studio 2000 Exhibit and Sale
Thursday, August 3, 5:00-7:00pm
Actors Theatre of Louisville, 316 West Main Street
Sale Preview: 5:00-5:30 p.m. Sale 5:30-7:00 p.m.
Studio 2000 Mural Unveiling
Sunday, August 6, 12:00-2:00pm
Christ Way Missionary Baptist Church, 237 E. Breckinridge Street
Written by Keith Waits. Photos taken by LVA staff members. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.