Grade 11 and 12 students taking Visual Art, Design or Drama had the opportunity to travel to New York City for three days of gallery and museum hopping and drama workshops. Thirty-five students participated on the trip and are now reflecting on all that they encountered.
Since the 1950s New York has served as the epicenter for new developments in the arts, notably in visual art, music and theatre. This vitality within the creative spheres of human activity continues today, and art collectors and scholars from around the world travel to New York to keep an eye on the pulse of human creativity at the outer edges of the arts disciplines. Students encountered a field of creative inquiry that is very much alive and that continues to push at the boundaries of what defines the canon of art. They also toured private art galleries that conduct the business of art; showing and selling work to collectors and collecting institutions.
On day one, students toured the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and then moved on to view the exhibitions on display at the Whitney Gallery of American Art. Following the Whitney visit, students explored the surrounding Madison Avenue private galleries, including the world-renowned Gagosian Gallery. On day two, students began the day by taking a subway to the tip of the island and viewed the Statue of Liberty from the deck of the iconic Staten Island ferry. We then proceeded to Soho for a guided tour of the New Museum of Contemporary Art. After lunch in Soho, we travelled to the Chelsea Art district to view the many private art galleries showing a wide range of work. Students also discovered under the renowned West Side walkway, work by the popular artist Banksy.
On day three, we moved back in time and travelled north to explore the stunning space of St. John the Divine cathedral. Following this, we travelled further north for a guided tour of the Cloisters Museum, a medieval monastery recreated from remnants of Romanesque and Gothic monasteries moved stone by stone from Europe to north Manhattan. Departing from the quiet chapels of the Cloisters Museums, we made our way back to the Metropolitan Museum, passing on our way the famed Apollo theatre in Harlem. After an afternoon of exploring the extensive collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we wrapped up the day with a circular stroll through Central Park.
At the end of a busy three days, we boarded the bus back to St. Catharines Sunday morning and drove through the Ridley gates at 7pm. The annual arts pilgrimage to New York is always an intense experience with too much art viewing to digest within the time allotted. In the coming weeks it is hoped that students will reflect on what they encountered in the galleries and museums of New York and come to appreciate that human culture is something that is made by people who are committed to pursuing a vision. This vision is created by artists, and sustained by participants who make the effort to engage with the work generated by artists. New York is one city in which the creation and celebration of art makes up everyday life.