The Visiting Artist Program Welcomes Sheila Pepe
Last week in the Upper School assembly, students had the privilege of hearing from this year’s visiting artist Sheila Pepe. She was here to introduce an exciting opportunity for students in Classes XI and XII to participate in a Winter term Independent Study project. As part of Waterford School’s Visiting Artist Program Pepe will be offering the course Art Grows Inside of the Liberal Arts: An Independent Study course that will provide an opportunity for a max of 12 students to work in teams of 3-4 to conduct research and produce new work as collaborative teams. This expanded artist in residence program will allow students to engage in making new visual art as new knowledge, informed by research in many fields and the liberal arts principle of integrated truth, as well as critical looking and thinking.
Pepe’s introductory assembly address was an image rich exploration of her own work as well as a call for student participation and collaboration. Her remarks provided an inspiring window into her own influences and motivations as an artist which range from ancient philosophy and archeological artifacts to contemporary issues in craft. Pepe shared images of her drawings, sculpture, and installation work and talked about the process of creating open sets of artworks that grow and unfold over time. She also described her interactive installation work which invites viewers to touch and even dismantle her work as they sit together conversing and transforming the work into something new. These works focus on connecting people by challenging the architecture and conventions of the spaces where they are displayed. Pepe shared how these works have developed over time as they have traveled internationally from galleries in Tbilisi, Georgia to Istanbul, Turkey to New York City and more.
Pepe spent the rest of the day visiting classes and was able to sit in on Human Geography, AP Chinese, American Literature and Calculus AB classes. She also conducted critiques of advanced drawing/painting, ceramics, and photography student artwork. The critiques were a great opportunity for students to gain insight into their work and to have their ideas challenged and expanded.
At the end of her remarks, a lighthearted Q & A session allowed students an opportunity to reflect on Pepe’s words and to engage in spirited conversation with the artist. Students began to see how art is connected to all kinds of learning and how it can grow out of and evolve together with knowledge from research across disciplines. Pepe will teach the selected group of students during Winter term via online seminars with faculty support on the ground at Waterford. She will return to campus in March when she will share the work created in collaboration with students and deliver an Arts Week keynote address, Reading New Knowledge in New Work. We are excited to see the work that will grow out of this course and anxious to share it with the greater Waterford community. Stay tuned!
Colby Brewer is an artist and teacher at the Waterford School where he has taught since 2007. He has been a visiting artist and sculpture teacher at the Király Endre technical school in Budapest, Hungary, at the Beginning with Children Charter School in Brooklyn, NY, and was co-teacher of Design and Architecture courses at the Pratt Liberty Partnership Program, also in Brooklyn. Colby has exhibited his artwork in galleries and museums in New York City, Budapest, and Salt Lake City. In 2009, Colby was named a Visual Arts Fellow for the Utah Division of Arts and Museums. He holds an MFA from Pratt Institute and a BFA from Brigham Young University. Colby also serves on the Board of Directors at NOW-ID.