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Creative educational programming by Quick Center highlighted by Museum Association of New York

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ST. BONAVENTURE — St. Bonaventure University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts and its innovative outreach during the Covid-19 pandemic are featured on the website of the Museum Association of New York.

With gallery spaces repurposed for classrooms and the building closed to the public, the Quick Center for the Arts created a virtual studio space and worked with teachers to connect students to art during the pandemic.

Using the artwork “The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles” by Faith Ringgold, the Quick Center partnered with the African American Center for Cultural Development in Olean in a virtual learning activity for sixth-grade students at Allegany-Limestone Central School to better understand the prominence of quilts in Black art and culture by making their own story quilt, an art making process pioneered by Ringgold.

Assistant curator and museum educator Sean Conklin said the project was unlike anything he had ever undertaken for arts education and he was suddenly creating a season of museum tour offerings with no museum. 

“After a few failed attempts of trying to adapt what we already offer for a digital space, I decided instead to really think about what makes our tour experiences worthwhile. I considered works from our collection that people may not be familiar with or that we haven’t put on display in a while, as well as the people and institutions the Quick Center should be collaborating with – and this project was the result,” Conklin said.

Conklin provided hybrid asynchronous days for teachers using digital tools and providing art supplies. The students created their own quilt blocks on paper, which Conklin scanned, printed onto fabric, and assembled into a quilt. The quilt will be displayed at the opening of the African American Center in its new building.

He praised the creativity and collaboration of Allegany-Limestone art teacher Nicole Missel and African American Center director Della Moore on the project. 

Working with the African American Center and Moore offered a local history component, including a performance by Moore as Sarah Johnson, a runaway slave who found her way to Olean and went on to become one of the city’s most venerated citizens.

It was important to Conklin that throughout the project they were teaching accurate history through lived experiences.

“Della performing as the ‘avatar of Sarah Johnson,’ combined with multimedia pieces of interviews and gallery talks given by Ringgold helped bring the project together for the students. None of that would have happened during a typical museum tour,” said Conklin.

It was gratifying for him to see the students demonstrate applied knowledge, but there was also the element of social emotional learning that occurred as a result of the topics that were discussed and the art the students created.

“The project evolved and became an outlet for many of the students to process what they were experiencing in the day-to-day of going to school during a global pandemic,” Conklin said.

View MANY’s story about the project at https://nysmuseums.org/MANYnews/10778599.

The Quick Center for the Arts is one of 98 museums across the state participating in MANY’s “Building Capacity, Creating Sustainability, Growing Accessibility,” an Institute of Museum and Library Services CARES Act grant project designed to help museums impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic share their collections and reach audiences who cannot physically visit their museums.

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