16th Annual VSA Arts Festival at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens | Arts & Culture

Title (Max 100 Characters)

16th Annual VSA Arts Festival at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
16th Annual VSA Arts Festival at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is hosting the 16th annual VSA Arts Festival from April 26 to April 29, 2011 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. This festival provides an opportunity for more than 2,300 students from the surrounding four counties’ public school’s Exceptional Student Education (ESE) programs to experience the beauty of art and to demonstrate their own artistic abilities. Students and teachers will tour though eight ArtStops in the Museum’s galleries, gardens, studios and Art Connections to create hands-on art projects, view The Cummer’s art collection and learn about art appreciation.

“The festival is based on the premise that interactions with art are not passive, but should be active,” said Hope McMath, Museum Director. “We intentionally have the majority of art and music activities in the galleries, so that children with disabilities have to opportunity to create works of art or participate in music making with talented musicians while surrounded by the masterworks of our collection. The impact on the students is clear to all who participate. Ah-ha moments occur every hour of everyday of the festival.”

The ArtStops, located in the Museum’s galleries and gardens, provide students the unique opportunity to make art while surrounded by masterpieces of art encompassing 8,000 years of art history. Students will spend 15 minutes participating in each activity. A volunteer guide will lead the children through the ArtStops, which have been adapted for those with disabilities as far-ranging as profound physical disabilities to blindness. This year’s ArtStops include handcrafting butterflies, hats and clay boats, painting abstract pictures of the St. Johns River from The Cummer Gardens, ribbon dancing to a live musical performance, Ajamu Mutima’s unique combination of music and storytelling and creating landscape collages inspired by A Genius for Place: American Landscapes of the Country Place Era exhibition. A Genius for Place, on view through April 19, 2011, features 52 large-scale black and white photographs by Carol Betsch and written commentary by Robin Karson of seven estates that were originally created for wealthy Americans as scenic city escapes.

Students will also spend time in Art Connections, a multidisciplinary learning experience with hands-on educational activities. Students can browse the Creativity Timeline which spans over 40 feet and has interactive stations that allow students to view, listen, touch and explore the relationship between art, science, technology and culture. Students can create their own self-portraits and masterpieces to take home with Face to Face and Picture Perfect, electronic art stations that removes the mess of paint and necessity for a smock. Students can also learn about the creative process and how it varies from person to person at Visions/Versions, an installation of art and video.

“We all benefit from being engaged, using our minds, hearts and hands, when learning,” said McMath. “For children with varying abilities, this is even more critical.”

This four-day festival has been recognized as a national model by VSA Arts International and is unique because it is the only festival in the country to allow children to make art in the galleries. For many of these children, it is their only opportunity to experience the beauty of original masterpieces, the power of creativity and the art making process.

This year, more than 1,300 volunteers will devote their time and talent to the festival. Volunteers represent every segment of the community and include corporate volunteers, college and university students, high school students, school system staff members, Museum docents and many other individuals.

“I feel like the most under told story of the festival is the impact on those who volunteer. To connect with other human beings in such an intimate way, using art, in a beautiful setting is very powerful and those of us lucky enough to work with this program are better people as a result.”

For more information on the VSA Arts Festival or to become a volunteer, please call Art Connections at (904) 355-0630.

A VSA Arts Festival VIP/Media tour is scheduled for Wednesday, April 27, at 11:45 with Museum Director Hope McMath. During the 30-minute tour of the festival, media are invited to take photographs, video and interview participating teachers and parents. Media will also have the opportunity to join us for lunch immediately following the tour for in-depth interviews with volunteers and VIPs. For more information about the media tour or to RSVP, please call Amy Chamberlin at (904) 899-6034.

Citi is the title sponsor of the festival and is providing financial support and over 400 volunteers. Other sponsors of the VSA Arts Festival include: Borowy Family Foundation, Brooks Rehabilitation, Chartrand Foundation, City of Jacksonville, Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, Inc., DuBow Family Foundation, Duval County Public Schools, FDLRS Crown, Fifth Generation Fund of the Bradley-Turner Foundation, Inc., Firehouse Subs, HEAL Foundation, Sam’s Club, Scott-McRae Group | Duval Dealers, The Chef’s Garden, Tropical Smoothie Café, VSA Arts of Florida, Inc. and Watkins Christian Foundation.

Avondale - Riverside Businesses