Talking Art transforms lives

Can learning to talk about art help troubled youth in both the U.S. and France?

A new FRAME pilot project, Talking Art, hopes to find out. Talking Art is a version of the highly successful RAISE (Responding to Art Involves Self Expression) program developed by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute with the Berkshire County (Massachusetts) Juvenile Courts. “If we consider 'art' to be an expression of human experience, then engaging with art is a way to connect with larger-than-self human experience” writes the Clark’s Ronna Tulgan Ostheimer (photo), who developed the program and whose paper on this won an American Association of Museums prize. “More simply,” she writes, “engaging with art presents an opportunity for personal growth.”

And that’s exactly what educators from the Clark and the Museums of Marseilles are counting on. The curriculum teaches kids how to look at and talk about art - particularly paintings that have emotionally charged content. In this way, they hope to give youth-at-risk an  experience which: 1) inspires confidence that their views matter; 2) uses  art as a vehicle for thinking, talking and writing about human experience; and, 3) makes the museum more relevant to young adults and teens. The programs end with the recording of participants discussing a picture in their own special way.

The Clark and Marseilles will pilot the program later this year and it will expand to Strasbourg and Portland in 2010. Other FRAME museums have expressed interest, and Talking Art has great potential as an international model.

Talking Art is made possible by a generous planning grant from the U.S. State Department, funding from the Annenberg Foundation, and support from our Friends.