During the fall 2022 semester, Mason Gross School of the Arts and Rutgers Community Arts partnered with the Arts Institute of Middlesex County to present a portfolio development program to New Brunswick High School students. The series of art classes and artist talks, held on Saturdays from October 22 to December 17, featured workshops and professional-development seminars led by Art & Design students and recent alumni.
Students in the program created art in a range of media including drawing, print, painting, and digital and participated in discussions with guest speakers who introduced topics including building a career as a working artist, the business of art—like setting up an LLC, how to price work, and generating invoices—and ideas about where to hold an exhibition.
Instructors and guests included alumni Kyle b. co., Francesca Strada, Richard Siggillino, and Jahi Sabater; MFA student Sacha Vega and BFA student Teyhla McLeod; and local artist Louie Blaka. In addition, Mandy Feiler, dean of admissions, and Marc Handelman, chair of the Department of Art & Design, spoke to students about the college application process and portfolio preparation.
Anasely G., a sophomore at New Brunswick High School, is an aspiring architect who participated in the program for professional development as well as the luxury of time to be creative.
“Art is my passion,” says Anasely, “and knowing that I could devote my time to art was convenient because at home I don’t have time to do much of my art.”
Anasely said one of her goals in making art was to “show people that it’s more about creativity than skill.”
“A lot of people think of art as being able to draw something exactly how they look at it, but that’s not always the case,” Anasely says. “Art comes in different forms and not a lot of people understand that.”
Work by Anasely and other students was featured in a special exhibition at the Civic Square Building in downtown New Brunswick at the conclusion of the program.
Handelman says the program—which is expected to expand next year—serves to expose high school students who are passionate about art to a supportive studio experience while introducing resources available in a university context.
“Coming to campus each week and working with our instructors and learning about college life also helps to demystify higher education,” Handelman adds. “Ultimately, we want this portfolio development program to support and inspire high school students on their path to art school, whether that is at Mason Gross or elsewhere.”
The pilot program was funded by a grant from the Arts Institute of Middlesex County and underscores the county’s commitment to helping local organizations, including Rutgers, increase engagement with their communities, says Jared Cardenas, head of education, outreach, and administration at the institute.
“We’re bridging people at the municipal level, the institutional university level, the county level, and the state level, where everybody is coming together to think about how to create access that could potentially be transformative for students,” says Cardenas. “So many institutions have voiced a sincere interest in having an impact locally and improving the lives of people who live here.”
Photo: New Brunswick High School student Anasely G. (left) works with instructor and Art & Design alum Kyle b. co. Photo by Lynne DeLade.