Collaborating with Extreme Beauty: A Partnership Project between the Heritage School and the Metropolitan Museum of Art

By Hochtritt, Lisa; Lane, Kimberly et al. | Art Education, September 2004 | Go to article overview

Collaborating with Extreme Beauty: A Partnership Project between the Heritage School and the Metropolitan Museum of Art


Hochtritt, Lisa, Lane, Kimberly, Price, Shannon Bell, Art Education


This article chronicles the development and implementation of a lesson sequence in a high school art course that utilized Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed, a special exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume

Institute from December 6, 2001-March 17, 2002. This project took place over a 3-week period in the spring semester 2002 at The Heritage School, a public high school in New York City. As collaborators in this project, we each had our own objectives associated with our professional roles as school cultural visits coordinator (Lisa Hochtritt), art teacher (Kimberly Lane), and museum exhibition associate (Shannon Bell Price). We began planning for the project 3 months prior to its start and together developed a unit that exceeded our individual goals and met the four New York State Art Standards:1

* Creating, performing, and participating in the arts

* Knowing and using art materials and resources

* Responding to and analyzing works of art

* Understanding the cultural dimensions and contributions of the arts.

Our main goals and objectives for this project were as follows.

For the Cultural Visits Coordinator:

* To utilize local museums as a curricular resource;

* To facilitate dialogue and collaboration between museum personnel and Heritage teachers.

* To provide students with a learning opportunity that would connect their experience in the classroom with the world outside of school.

For the Art Teacher:

* That students would reflect on their own notions of beauty and the role that fashion and clothing choices play in social interactions;

* That students would learn how fashion has been and continues to be used to transform the body to conform to particular ideas of beauty;

* To provide a concrete, sensory experience that would help students feel successful in depicting the human form.

For the Museum Exhibition Associate:

* To expand our educational policies to include high school students;

* To encourage teenagers to consider the implications of fashion as art.

In this article, we provide our three perspectives as a means to represent the collaborative nature of this project.

The School and its Philosophy

The Heritage School started in 1997 as a collaboration between the New York City Department of Education and Teachers College, Columbia University. It is a public high school located in East Harlem, New York City, and serves approximately 300 students in grades 9-12. The Heritage School is a Title 1 school with an open enrollment admissions policy. Students come to our school with a wide range of academic abilities.

Central to the mission of the Heritage School is the belief that our school should meet the academic and affective needs of our students through an interdisciplinary curriculum. Because we believe that the cultural heritage of New York City belongs to everyone, we integrate cultural learning across the curriculum through all-school visits to museums, galleries, and other cultural institutions as well as varied opportunities for engagement in the arts. Teachers are encouraged to plan additional field trips throughout the year and to make curricular connections utilizing various institutions. The administration and staff fully support all artsrelated activities in the school.

Our Approach to Learning

The arts offer the capacity for involvement, shared visions, and possibilities for imagination. At Heritage, we believe that the experience the students bring to the learning process is a valid lens through which to interpret art objects. Museum Education Specialist, George Hein (1998), describes a shared approach to cultural institution and museum visits through constructivist pedagogy. Learning occurs when the participant's mind is actively engaged with the production of the process and product and acquiring knowledge as a synthesis of these activities.

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