On March 3rd, SA2020 went back to junior high! We headed out to Nimitz Middle School to volunteer with our friends Spare Parts, a nonprofit arts organization that supports reuse education through art classes, projects, and exhibitions. They visited Nimitz with their “Mini Art Museum”, a perfectly scaled-down version of a real contemporary arts museum. Artists from around the world produced pieces for curator Hills Snyder who dreamt up the show entitled “That Thing on the Side of the Road.”
Along with the Spare Parts instructors and student volunteers from UTSA, we helped facilitate student art projects, lead the kids through the mini museum, and even staff the mini gift shop. Truthfully, though, it just felt like we got to go back to art class.
The students from Mr. Cavazos’s 6th-8th grade classes worked on their own mini Mini Art Museum and created artwork made entirely of recycled materials. They used discarded CD cases as their gallery walls, hung their own art inside, and then linked each case together to create a winding museum path.
From creative collages to 3D trees, the students created truly beautiful, tiny art. We loved having the opportunity to talk with the students about their creations and what had inspired them. It was also so fun to see them visit the museum and discuss their favorite “wee art”. Though most pieces of art could fit in the palm of your hand, the artists stayed true to their crafts, producing small oil paintings, statues, and even video art.
As 6th grader Isabella J. Sanchez said, “I really liked the Mini Art Museum because it makes artists put their thoughts into one small piece of art. My favorite piece was the video art piece because I liked how it was mirrored and it made me wonder how the artist made it.”
Spare Parts is committed not only to recycling and reuse, but also to improving arts education and access. That’s part of the beauty of the traveling Mini Art Museum – they can bring it anywhere and to anyone!
Spare Parts Founder and Director Mary Elizabeth Cantu explains, “The goal of the Mini Art Museum is to bring the fine arts experience to our community and schools. This opportunity for schools eliminates bus fees and sometimes complicated scheduling to simply bring the fine art museum experience to classrooms.” Since its founding in 2013, the Museum has had over 5,000 adult and youth visitors! Pretty impressive for a museum that could likely fit on your dining room table.
“That Thing on the Side of the Road” is the Mini Art Museum’s Contemporary Arts Month exhibition. CAM is an annual celebration of contemporary art that includes great public educational programs. “The Mini Art Museum is a perfect way of bringing contemporary art into the classroom. It was very important to me for my students to see contemporary art during Contemporary Art Month,” said Mr. Cavazos.
We had a terrific time volunteering, making our own wee art, and visiting the smallest museum we’ve ever seen! Special thanks to Spare Parts, Nimitz Middle School, and Mr. Cavazos for letting us get in on the fun.