A Garden of Visuality
Work by Participants in Smack Mellon's Summer Arts Intensive Program

Exhibition Dates: August 25-26, 2012
Opening Reception: Friday, August 24, 6-8pm

Student Artists: Sumura Bell, Zori Davidson, Lesley Diaz, Jahir Hipps, Sara Iqbal, Madjeen Isaac, Samuel Joseph, Sahara Leung, Debbie Li, Cinaya McLean, Juan Nieves, Saliha Noor, Tiana Ratcliffe, Danissa Santos, Maat Silin 

A Garden of Visuality is an exhibition of work created by students during Smack Mellon's Summer Arts Intensive arts education program. Every August, Smack Mellon's 6,000 square foot gallery is transformed into a giant art studio where young people aged 12-16 can create in diverse visual media, including drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, photography, video, and animation. The 2012 Summer Arts Intensive ran Monday through Friday from July 30-August 24.

Guided by different artists each week who are experts in their field, the 15 students in the Summer Arts Intensive harvested their surrounding environments for both materials and ideas. Smack Mellon and its Dumbo, Brooklyn neighborhood provided fertile ground for the visual "garden" that took shape in our gallery.      

During the first week of the program, video artist Michael Paul Britto led students in creating intricate animated collages and film sets, using recycled magazines and other found materials. In installation artist Sonya Blesofsky's Sculpture and Installation class during the second week, repurposed materials like cardboard and cloth grew into sculptures inspired by both organic and geometric forms. During the program's third week, students worked with mixed media artist Natalia Nakazawa to hone the skills of drawing and painting from observation, eventually adding collage. Photo/video and performance artist Jessica Ann Peavy closed the program in its last week with photo essays focusing on the neighborhood. Smack Mellon's state-of-the art Media Room served as a laboratory for printing professional quality photographs and editing videos.

The students' work was also informed by weekly field trips to other New York City museums and art spaces. We traveled to Governors Island to see the FIGMENT interactive sculpture garden (featuring many works also made of found materials), met some of the sculpture artists, and created original videos of students interacting with the participatory artwork. We received guided tours of current exhibits at the Whitney Museum and Museum of Arts and Design; at both museums we learned about different art and museum careers from teen docents. We also received artist and curator talks at several Chelsea galleries in addition to exploring the landscaping and public art of The High Line.


Smack Mellon’s Summer Arts Intensive is an arts education program designed to give twelve to fifteen students hands-on experience working in a variety of visual arts fields. The students benefit from active engagement in sculpture, installation, photography, video, drawing, painting and exhibition design. Each week the students work with a different teaching artist or pair of artists who are experts in their field. They learn the practical skills necessary to develop creative projects that go beyond the techniques traditionally taught in high school art classes. The intensive art classes culminate in a student-curated exhibition of works created during the program. This exhibition is free and open to the public during normal gallery hours for three days, and Smack Mellon hosts a party for the students on the opening of the show.

The 2012 Summer Arts Intensive took place in Smack Mellon’s 6,000 square foot gallery space in Dumbo, Brooklyn. 

Every Friday afternoon, the group ventures to a different museum, alternative art space, sculpture park or other arts-related location.


The regular cost of tuition is $1200. However, applications are reviewed regardless of financial need, and full or partial scholarships may be available depending on level of financial need. Students whose total family income is less than $60,000/year are eligible for a full scholarship, with submission of our financial aid application and the required financial documentation.


The program is open to students aged 12 to 15, living in all areas of NYC. Participants must have an interest in the visual arts, but no prior experience is necessary. Participants must be able to commit for the entire duration of the program.


Please contact Katherine Gressel, Programs Manager, at 718-834-8761 or kgressel@smackmellon.org.



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