Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Learning Through Art

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Cultural exchanges

Since 1999, Learning Through Art has offered schoolchildren, teachers, and artists the chance to work on a cultural exchange through art education between primary schools in the Basque Country and schools in other parts of the world like the Escuela Modelo in Mexico City, PS 155 in Harlem, PS 88 in Queens, and PS 86 in the Bronx in New York City.

The objective: to share art projects, discover other realities, promote relations between different cultures, and to grow through learning in art.

  • 2010/11


    During the 2010-11 school year, a 4th-grade class at Pío Baroja PS and a 3rd-grade class at the Shuang Wen Public School got to know each other over the Internet. This experience allowed the students to discover how people live in two places that are thousands of kilometers apart: Chinatown, New York, and Txurdinaga, Bilbao. Both classes participated in workshops on the most emblematic places and buildings of their respective cities with local artists: Elssie Ansareo in Bilbao and Jeff Hopkins in New York. They also exchanged emails on a regular basis, and this weekly contact was a source of great anticipation and excitement (as well as an invaluable source of educational and cultural enrichment) for both the students and their teachers, Isabel Ruiz and Elsa Chen. The classes exchanged texts and photos about the customs of their communities and their typical festivities, such as the carnival or the Chinese New Year, as well as the students’ favorite foods or sports. This allowed them to learn words in Chinese and Basque while simultaneously reinforcing their English language skills in a fun and practical way. By extension, the photographs of parks, sports stadiums, skyscrapers, and museums showed them a new city through the eyes of other students their own age. The images triggered curious questions about how the Statue of Liberty or Puppy were made. After analyzing the distinctive elements and identifying features of their communities and cities, the two groups included the contributions of the other class in their work and later shared their artistic projects with each other by sending photos and descriptions. The themes of the projects were related to the school curriculum for the areas of Natural and Social Sciences, Spanish Language and Literature, and English.

  • 2009/10


    In the 2009-2010 school year, two classes, one from Arroa PS in Zestoa (Gipuzkoa) and the other, PS 86 in the Bronx (NY), shared their experiences as creative artists. The two classes exchanged letters, e-mails, drawings, and photographs via Internet, simulating the correspondence between artists who share ideas, concerns and creative processes. Their texts and images enabled the children to compare their projects, their ways of life, and other aspects of the places where they live. Part of the goal was to generate interest in other people and cities throughout the world and find similarities and differences between life in New York and Arroa. It is a particularly significant comparison involving two completely different groups: on the one hand, Arroa Behea, is a small district of Zestoa, with 350 inhabitants and a unitary school with just 19 schoolchildren of different ages; on the other, New York city, with more than a thousand state schools in its five districts.
    Two local artists, Iñaki Gracenea and Kate Baird, in Arroa and New York respectively, directed the activities with help from schoolteachers Arantza Irueta and Jone Carbonell in Arroa and Deborah Sach in New York. After analyzing the differences between the schools and communities, the children created representations of their respective environments, emphasizing the typical features of each place and trying to find the common points between the two, defining similarities and differences in the way urban areas are used in either place. Project themes were directly related to the curriculum, in Natural and Social Sciences, Language and Literature, and English.

  • 2008/09


    Two 5th grade classes, one from Las Viñas public primary school in Santurtzi, Bizkaia, and the other from P.S. 88 in Queens, New York, shared their experiences as creators. Throughout the school year the students wrote each other letters and exchanged e-mail messages, information and photographs online, emulating the way artists communicate with each other to share their ideas, concerns and creative processes. The workshops were led by local artists, Jon Mantzisidor in Bizkaia and Ascha Kells Drake in New York, with help from the teachers Zuberoa Arteaga and Soriartze Padilla in Bizkaia and from Debbie Zakarian and Tom Brunhuber in New York. The goal of the project was to use art and new technologies to allow students to compare their projects, and exchange information about the life and characteristics of the two places. The themes of the project were directly related to the subjects of Natural and Social Sciences, Language and Literature, and English.

  • 2007/08


    A selection of five works created in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao program during the 2007-2008 school year are presented on the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s web page in New York. Photographs and explanatory texts advertise the work done at San Ignacio, Zaldibar, San Prudencio, Karmelo and Katalin Erauso primary schools. Meanwhile, Bilbao displays a copy of the computer animation project called Stories Made To Move the 6th grade at PS 86 in the Bronx created with the help of artist Jeff Hopkins and inspired by the ancient Greek and Roman myths. Stop-motion techniques bring the charcoal drawings and clay figures alive in short films.

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