Friday, August 14, 2015

RECAP // Teen Summer Art Cooperative Program

This past summer 16 high school students spent three days a week at the museum participating in the inaugural year of the Mattress Factory's Summer Art Cooperative. We launched this program because we wanted to make the Mattress Factory a resource for students in the same way that we act as a resource for professional artists—a place where they can experiment, think big, and take their work to the next level.

The Summer Art Cooperative also addresses the ins and outs of being an artist- expanding our teens’ repertoire of techniques and methods, but also to help them figure out how to make art stay a part of their life as they transition into self-sufficiency and start thinking about their own career pathway. Basically, what we wanted to do with the Summer Art Cooperative is combine all of the “aha” moments that have helped to get us where we’re at—to pool our collective epiphanies together—so that pursuing a creative life doesn’t seem so impossible or financially unstable.

The students in this program had the opportunity to meet with ten different working artists and creative folks in the Pittsburgh community. The goals was to expose students to a variety of new mediums, new definitions of being an artists and the various ways to live a creative life. The students had workshops with John Peña (an artist featured in our recent Artists in Residence exhibition), Frederick Arnold, owner of a local record label, Caiti Sullivan, a master fermenter + pickler, Kevin Clancy, taught a workshop on inflatable utopias, Michael Koliner taught students about cob and hosted a workshop called “Mud Dance!” and more. Students also met with most of the Mattress Factory staff to truly understand what happens behind-the-scenes. From the first day of the program the students also had the challenge of planning their own event. The group decided that they wanted to host their own art exhibition featuring work by all of the Cooperative members on the theme of Identity.

The final celebration and showcase was a huge success. The Cooperative students organized and played experimental music made out of game boy loops and synth samples, showed an installations that included fake blood, fake birthday cakes, a smoking slime ball, an inflatable tetrahydron, and much much more. There was tons and tons of pizza and so many family and friends came out to support the students and celebrate all their handwork. It was an awesome summer and we can’t wait to see what our artists do next.

If you are interested in teen programming at the Mattress Factory, be sure to check out our new TEEN ART COOPERATIVE program. We will meet on Thursdays from 4-6pm at the museum. Applications are due Sunday, September 20th and space is limited! If you are interested in finding out more about the Teen Art Cooperative come to our info session on Tuesday, September 15th from 3:30-6pm. For questions and more information e-mail

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