Unit IV. Planning a Student Exhibition - Lesson 20: Creating the Exhibition (two sessions)

Time:

2 sessions, each 50 minutes

Materials:

Student photographs for display
Mat board, Foam core, oak tag, or other material for framing and displaying artwork
Double-sided tape, spray mount, glue sticks, binder clips, easels, thumbtacks, and/or pins for mounting and hanging work
Printer and paper or labels for printing exhibition text
Worksheet Y: Exhibition Checklist

Preparation:

All students should have their photographs, artist statements, and accompanying texts ready for these sessions. Statements and texts should be printed or carefully written on quality paper; photographs should be printed out at an appropriate size. (Be sure to tell students how big and on what kind of paper you want them printed.)

Overview:

In this lesson, students work together productively in small groups to synthesize their work into an exhibition.

Big Idea:

Curating an exhibition requires the coordinated efforts of many people working together on a variety of tasks.

Introduction (5 minutes)

Explain that the students will be working together to create an exhibition of its community photographs. In order to get all the work done, each student will specialize in a specific task. This is how it works when exhibitions are installed at museums and galleries. There are curators, designers, educators, publicists, and others who work together to get the job done.

 

Mounting Work (20 minutes)

First, have students mount their own work. See “Mounting an exhibition” for suggestions about mounting students’ work.

 

Overview of Project Roles (25 minutes)

Don’t be concerned if you do not have experience mounting exhibitions. A student exhibition doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. It is most important that the students’ work is of a high quality and that their efforts are well represented in the display. Other than that, it’s just a matter of putting pictures and words on a wall. “Mounting an Exhibition” in the “Resources” section (below) includes lots of specific suggestions for creating something that looks good and is not too expensive or work-intensive. Please feel free to contact the Jewish Lens staff for assistance, as well.

  1. Either split the class into small groups and then delegate the roles explained below, or read an overview of each role and have students select which group they want to be a part of. There will be a group of “curators,” a group of “installers,” a group of “writers,” a group of “publicists,” and a group of “educators.”
    The different groups will probably need to work together at times. For example, the curators will need to communicate with the installers regarding exhibition organization; educators and publicists may need to get together to schedule tours.
    Explain the role of each group:
    • The curators will deal with the visual display of the exhibition. They will need to consider what the main ideas of the exhibition are and how these will be reflected in the way the exhibition is organized. Will it be organized by value, by artist, or by some other principle? Once put in place, do the chosen works look good next to each other, or do they clash? Curators can draw schematic diagrams to help them figure out how to organize the exhibition. Please see the unit introduction for more ideas about how to approach the visual organization of your exhibition.
    • The installers will work on the details of physically mounting the exhibition. They will make sure all of the work is mounted properly; they will figure out exactly where the photographs and labels go on the walls or where to put the easels; they will hang the pieces; they will make sure everything looks presentable and professional. They may need to measure the walls and draw floor plans or elevations before hanging the work in order to make sure they know exactly where everything will go. They may also need to consider traffic flow and other spatial issues in designing the exhibition.
    • The writers will create the exhibition labels and, if necessary, any brochures. Each artist will write his or her own artist’s statement and choose appropriate texts to accompany his or her work, but the writers will have to take everyone’s text and make sure it is in a clean, legible form. Writers will also have to write additional text, such as introductory panels, directional signs, or section headings. They will need to decide whether there is going to be an exhibition brochure and, if so, what it will look like and say.
    • The publicists will promote the exhibition, publicizing it in the school, the synagogue, Jewish organizations, and/or the local media. Signs, posters, and press releases will be needed to announce the exhibition. The publicists will also organize the exhibition opening. Decisions will need to be made regarding the opening. When will it be? Will there be refreshments? Will there be speakers? Who will be invited—parents, other classes, community members, the press?
    • The educators will develop and deliver tours of the exhibition once it’s open. They will need to think about what makes an interesting tour and how their tours will be structured. Will they ask questions? What do they want visitors to learn from the exhibition and tour? Educators may need to write the text for their tours and practice leading them before the exhibition opens so they are ready once the exhibition is up.
  2. Hand out Worksheet Y to the groups in order to help them focus on relevant issues and questions and have them get to work. There is a separate form for each group.

 Once your exhibition is completed, you may want to host a special dinner or reception to celebrate the opening. We also encourage you (or your student publicity committee) to send out a letter announcing the exhibition to the community. A sample letter can be found in the “Forms and Letters” section of this guide. Students may choose instead to write their own press releases and letters of invitation.

 

For Homework:

Whether or not you mount a physical exhibition of students’ work, we invite you to post your students’ photos in Student Galleries section of this site. 

Note: Students’ parents must give permission for their children’s work and names to be posted on the website.  Please see the Release Form for Publishing Student Work.

 

Once some of the other schools involved in the project have uploaded their photos to the website, ask your students to take a look at the other photographs on the site. Have students consider these questions:

  • How are the other students’ photos similar to or different from yours?
  • How do their photographs represent Jewish values?
  • Did they choose to take similar approaches in their photos, or are theirs very different?

For homework, also ask students to reflect on their entire experience working with The Jewish Lens curriculum. Have them fill out and hand in Worksheet Z (Student Evaluation). This will give them a chance to think about the project as a whole; it will also give teachers and project staff additional opportunities to understand how students related to the project, what they connected with most, what they gained from the experience, and what ideas they might have for the future.