Penn Charter:
Juried Art Show

Art by Perky Cohen

The William Penn Charter School hosts a weeklong Juried Art Show and Sale from Nov. 2nd to Nov. 8th

As an urban Quaker school with a 300-year history of tolerance, William Penn Charter School shapes its curriculum with an eye to diversity.

This November, Penn Charter takes diversity one step further through a unique teaching strategy. As part of the school's Juried Art Show and Sale, Penn Charter will open an on-campus gallery featuring more than 80 regional artists, and create a homegrown mural installation by K-12 students. The show provides a weeklong in-school art experience for students: they will see art; think about art; talk about art; and assemble their own work of art.

The Juried Art show program "puts art front and center as an interruption of the daily flow," said Penn Charter Visual Arts Department Head Randy Granger. The show "has the capacity to refocus the student mind on the lessons and role of art in daily life."

In early October, art show jurors Jan Baltzell, a professor at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, J. Susan Isaacs, curator at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts, and John Ollman, owner, Ollman Fleisher Gallery, worked to evaluate the submissions of 140 artists. The Jurors selected 84 pieces of artwork for the November show, all of which are for sale.

As part of the show-related activities, Penn Charter students will tour the gallery in their free time and also with their teachers. Artists are invited to visit classrooms and share their creative processes with students at different grade levels. "We've built a network of artist friends who have generously given to our students," said Granger. The sharing doesn't always take place in art classes though; "One photographer came to speak to a social studies class because the subject of his work was Cuba," Granger explained.

Under the direction of the Penn Charter Visual Arts Department, students have begun constructing their own work of art - a larger-than-life mixed media mural. Granger explained the central section will be created piecemeal from textiles printed with images drawn from nature. This patchwork will be lashed with woven ropes to a bamboo frame and the ropes are to be knotted with Lower School students' messages about peace. The center textile will be bracketed by two bands of vertically suspended ceramic bells, made by Upper School students. Middle School students' memory boxes will hang on the far left, while a stained glass panel created by Upper School students will be on the far right.

"We believe that all kids have special artistic gifts," said Granger. "The arts exist everywhere - so we try to discover, and draw forth that art …and work with it in the context of our lives. This is not a department that picks the talented and gifted student and focuses him or her on art college; we take all students and open their eyes to art. We train them in the artistic process…(and) place a great emphasis on being able to speak and write about art."

Penn Charter's on-campus gallery opens to the public on Sunday, Nov. 2nd. Weekend gallery hours are 11a.m. to 4p.m. Weekday hours are 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. The show closes at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8th. The school is located in East Falls at 3000 West School House Lane, and parking is available. For additional information please call the William Penn Charter School at 215-844-3460, extension 202, or visit the Web site at www.penncharter.com/art.

Penn Charter, the oldest Quaker school in the nation, is a diverse community of boys and girls from kindergarten through 12th grade.

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