In 2014 three practicing professional artists, Clarissa Regan, Sarah Fordham and Jason Wing worked in collaboration with students and teachers at three schools – Cabramatta High School, Fairvale High School and Merrylands High School. Their focus was to strengthen arts and culture exposure in the school communities, improve student engagement and learning and extend the teaching of contemporary art practice. The National Art School, a partner in this program, hosted artists-led workshops and lectures.
Fresh AIR program was launched at the National Art School on Friday 14th February 2014 with artist led lectures and workshops. Here the artists and the staff and students of the three schools came together, met each other, and experienced the environment of the tertiary partner, the National Art School.
Each artist worked in the schools for 33 weeks, working with staff & students one day per week for 11 weeks in each school. Artists worked closely with the teachers in each school, collaboratively planning, delivering and evaluating a program of learning centred around developing a deeper understanding of the artist’s art making practice. Students interpreted this into their own context and made art works reflecting this learning.
Artists led weekly professional learning sessions with the teachers extended the teachers’ skills and understanding of the art making practice and process allowing teachers to embed this learning in their own practice. The workshops allowed for upskilling of staff, building capacity and assisted in mentoring and team building amongst senior and junior staff across each school faculty.
In each school the artist established a studio space in which they worked, students were able to visit, observe and interact with the artist. The virtual studio via Facebook has become a successful forum featuring the art making and collaboration of these residencies.
At the end of each 11 weeks the student’s works were exhibited locally in each school. A series of the best works were selected to feature in the Department of Education’s World’s Biggest Classroom exhibitions presented across Sydney in November. The schools have been invited to exhibit in this program again in 2015.
The 2014 AIR program concluded with a two day artist led non-residential camp hosted at the National Art School that allowed the Gifted and Talented students across the three school the opportunity to be extended and enriched.