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12th Annual "Community Creations" Exhibition Features Work by Young People
The Gardner Museum’s education programs improve critical thinking skills in young learners.

BOSTON, MA.- Spring is in the air at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum as the museum looks forward to celebrating the fresh perspectives of young local artists in its 12th annual Community Creations exhibition, on view from June 13-21, 2009. Continuing the legacy of support for emerging young artists and the tradition of community involvement begun by Isabella Gardner herself, the Gardner Museum’s Community Creations exhibition presents works of art created by students from neighboring communities, including Boston’s Fenway area, Dorchester, Roxbury, Mission Hill, Jamaica Plain, and West Roxbury.

“Isabella Gardner was a community philanthropist, sponsoring garden and student musical competitions to enrich the lives of the young people living in the areas surrounding her museum,” says Anne Hawley, Norma Jean Calderwood Director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. “Today, the Gardner remains committed to supporting and enriching the lives of young people in our community by encouraging creative expression and providing access to art and beauty for all. This exhibition showcases the creative talents of our city’s youth and celebrates the connections they have made with art, each other, and the museum.”

Now in its twelfth year, the Community Creations exhibition is the culminating event of an entire year spent looking at, learning about, drawing inspiration from, and creating art at the Gardner Museum through the museum’s Community Partnership Program, a unique collaboration with six local community organizations, including the Alternative School at Little House (Dorchester), Dorchester Alternative School (Dorchester), Fenway High School (the Fenway area of Boston), Hawthorne Youth and Community Center (Roxbury), Mother Caroline Academy (Dorchester), and Peace Drum Project (Jamaica Plain), as well as teens from the Gardner’s own Teens Behind the Scenes program.

Community Partnership Program students, ranging in age from 8 through 18, experience an in-depth, multi-visit approach to learning at the Gardner Museum each year. Students visit and explore the museum’s galleries regularly over the course of the year, learning to look closely at art and develop their own opinions. Toward the end of their tenure at the museum, they are encouraged to draw inspiration from these experiences to create original two- and three-dimensional works of art for the Community Creations exhibition. At the end of the exhibition, each work of art is returned to the community organization for permanent display, serving as a continual reminder of the students’ time at the Gardner.

The Gardner Museum’s education programs improve critical thinking skills in young learners, as demonstrated in “Thinking Through Art,” a three-year nationwide research study funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination grant program, completed in 2007.

“We’ve learned through research that helping students to look closely at art makes a major difference in the development of the critical thinking skills they will need to do well in school and throughout their lives,” says Peggy Burchenal, Curator of Education and Public Programs. “In this way, the museum’s Community Partnership and Teens Behind the Scenes programs make an important contribution to the future of young people in our community.”

“Community Creations connects the Gardner Museum and the surrounding neighborhoods in a meaningful and inspiring way—and has a lasting impact on the students’ learning and confidence in many ways,” adds Johnetta Tinker, Director of Community Programs. “The opportunity to showcase their works alongside over thirty centuries of art in a place that they have come to know intimately empowers them to discover and share their own creative expression.”

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum | Community Creations | Alternative School at Little House | Dorchester Alternative School | Fenway High School | Hawthorne Youth and Community Center |

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