The Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, New Jersey brings new dimensions into their interactions with artists and the community. ABI spoke with Executive Director Kate Hutson about their approach.
ABI: What do you feel is the biggest contribution art school makes to the student?
KH: It is becoming increasingly apparent that success in the 21st century is dependent upon not only one’s education and drive, but also one’s creativity, and ability to think outside of the box. In a culture where innovation is so highly valued, having a strong creative mind is an asset.
The Yard School of Art at MAM allows students of all ages to come and flex their creative muscles in an environment that fosters not only the learning of art techniques, but also promotes individual growth, confidence in one’s abilities, and fun while doing so. Learning about art in the absence of pressure is a powerful tool for education and inspiration.
ABI: Who is your typical student and why do you believe they choose your program?
KH: We have students ages 3 and up. I would say the thing that they all have in common is an interest in art, ranging from curiosity to a lifelong passion. They choose our program because we have a wide range of options that serve most peoples’ interests, because we have excellent and passionate art instructors (some who have been teaching at the Yard School for more than 30 years), and because we are part of, and housed within, the Montclair Art Museum, which gives students the unique opportunity to study from our extensive collection of American and Native American art.
ABI: What type of community interaction do you cultivate between the school, the Montclair Art Museum and local residents and businesses?
KH: The Montclair Art Museum is heavily embedded in the community. We have many local partnerships, ranging from local small businesses, historic houses and gardens, galleries, public schools, and other private learning centers. We have a very strong and active base of members who are Montclair residents, and residents of nearby communities.
This summer we launched the MAM Art Truck which serves up art to the community. The Art Truck has visited audiences ranging from local festivals, farmers’ markets and fairs, events in underserved communities, community pools, and assisted living centers. The goal is to bring the art to you, to give access to the arts to those who might not otherwise have it, and to light the spark of creativity around the community.