CURRICULUM LAB: November 1-19 2017 at Studio Two Three

Jonathan Lee w/ Genesis Chapman, Tom Condon, Brooke Inman, Sarah Irvin, Aimee Joyaux, Bizhan Khodabandeh, Blythe King, Ron Lee, Matt Lively, Katie McBride, Andrea Owens, Michael Pierce, Michael-Birch Pierce, Leigh Suggs, Sayaka Suzuki, Nathan Tersteeg, Tyler Thomas, Katie Wood

Photography by Shaun Aigner-Lee

Curriculum Lab was initially created as a project for 20 artists, each tasked with creating artwork from and inspired by discarded library materials from Virginia Commonwealth University's Curriculum Lab Collection of juvenile books. Each artist received a packet with an instruction card and 20 3.5x3" card pocket fronts to draw on, cover, cut, manipulate, combine, or add to in any way they chose. The rules: 1) artwork can be any depth but must remain 3.5x3" and 2) artwork should be inspired by the text on each card. Completed works were displayed in a 76 ft line of 20 mixed sets of 20 and sold to support Richmond Performing Arts Alliance’s ELLA, an arts-integrated literacy program in public Pre-K classrooms across the greater Richmond area. The exhibition was previewed at a round table event at the 2017 Current Art Fair then hung at Studio Two Three. Additional sets were sold at auctions benefiting programs at VisArts and 1708 Gallery.

Both leading up to and during the exhibition, there were workshops and activities based on the same materials. The workshop exercises were "hands on, minds on" activities, using art practices to teach visual and information literacy skills; focusing on critical thinking, problem based enquiry, awareness of personal biases, and research/discovery techniques. Through art-making and discussion, participants took a deeper look at the relationships they have with words, images, and research. Many of the workshops and activities were initially tested at the RPAA and Richmond Young Writers before being presented at Studio Two Three during the exhibition. The RPAA's teen video production class, free to public school students from anywhere in the area and endorsed by the Virginia Department of Education, worked on a Curriculum Lab documentary for an independent study credit. See a trailer HERE. There was also a community activity day where anyone could come in and create their own Curriculum Lab cards, t-shirts, and artwork by screen printing, drawing, painting, collaging, image transfering, and rubber stamping.

The experience of and findings from this exhibition and workshop series were presented at the 2018 Virginia Library Association Professional Conference in Williamsburg, VA. A second phase is currently being developed for 2019-21. An overview of workshop activities was given at the 2019 LOEX Conference in Minneapolis, MN. You can read the proceedings paper HERE.

Workshops and exhibitions planned for Fall 2019 at Roanoke College and the University of Richmond.

Click to read articles from Richmond Magazine and Whurk Magazine.

Workshop Activity Prompts Below ↓

Workshop Student’s Work Above ↑ Contributing Artist’s Work Below ↓

Sets of 20 available here:
Individual pieces available here: