Arlington Arts Center (Arlington, VA)


Painting Fundamentals is one of many classes offered for middle and high school students at the Arlington Arts Center Photo credit: Sara Yousefnejad.

Established in 1974 to provide studio and exhibit space for local artists, today the Arlington Arts Center (AAC) is a private, nonprofit contemporary visual arts center that supports and presents work by regional artists from Virginia and the mid-Atlantic States. The center houses nine exhibition spaces, 13 artist studios, and two classrooms which support a year-round calendar of gallery shows, free and low-cost educational programs for adults and children, and a subsidized artist-in-residence program. On view recently in the galleries was the Spring Solos show, which featured six visual artists from Washington, DC and Philadelphia, including sculptor Mia Feuer and painter Gregory Thielker. Recent workshops included a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) mask workshop for middle schoolers and a graphic design workshop for high school students and adults.


“This is My City/Esta es mi cuidad” was a field trip-based workshop in which Arlington teens documented their surroundings as part of a photography exchange program with the Centro Arte para la Paz in Suchitoto, El Salvador. Photo credit: Jason Irla

Arlington Arts Center received an FY 2010 NEA Learning in the Arts for Children and Youth grant to support the Public Art Learning Project, a series of 12 site visits and hands-on visual arts workshops to help middle school students learn about, respond to, and create public art. AAC Executive Director Claire Huschle explained that the county’s public art collection is a perfect fit for the project: “Sited throughout Arlington, the public art collection intersects a large range of economic, ethnic, and cultural strata. We feel that, through field trips and workshops, students will learn first-hand how public art can identify and create a sense of place within and between various communities, and also how it reflects the values of area residents We are particularly excited about the final project: the construction of a temporary public art work that will teach participants about site selection, public/private partnerships, and group collaboration.”


Located at 1655 Fort Myer Drive, Nancy Holt’s Dark Star Park (1984) is one of the public sculptures that students will study as part of the Public Art Learning Project. Photo courtesy Arlington County Public Art Program

The students also will create a public art study guide for the city’s public art collection, which Huschle commented will benefit the community at large. “This program not only fills a gap in out-of-school activities for middle school students, but the resulting Public Art Study Guide will make Arlington’s public art collection accessible to school groups, neighborhood associations, and the general public. We’re very fortunate to have committed program partners in the Arlington Cultural Affairs Public Art Program and Greenbrier Learning Center.” After curriculum planning and development in fall 2010, student workshops will take place in spring and summer 2011. Approximately 12 students will participate in the workshops.


Jann Rosen-Queralt’s Cultivus Loci: Suckahanna (2004) is installed in the Four Mile Run Corridor in Arlington’s Powhatan Springs Park. Photo courtesy Arlington County Public Art Program