We are pleased to announce that philanthropic support from Cynthia Heusing and Lab Board Chair David Kistenbroker will fund the new Kistenbroker Family Artist in Residence Program. The program is designed to further Lab's mission by bringing practicing artists to campus, in various capacities, to work directly with Lab students.
"Lab has made a deep commitment to developing our arts program. Gordon Parks Arts Hall is an unbelievable space and now we have the opportunity to expand the ways we bring Lab's arts program to life," says Lab Director Charlie Abelmann. "The Kistenbrokers' support will allow Lab to host outstanding artists who will not only inspire our students to try new approaches but will also engage and inspire our broader community."
Joining Lab for the next nine months, in the first of these residencies, will be Allison McGourty and Bernard MacMahon, creators, writers, producers, and directors of a multi-part BBC/PBS documentary, American Epic, that explores the birth of the recording industry, and what Rolling Stone magazine calls, "The Lawrence of Arabia of music documentaries."
"The artist in residence concept—successfully tested in other ways at Lab—has the potential to ignite creativity in entirely new and unexpected ways," says Mr. Kistenbroker. "By working side-by-side with leading artistic practitioners, our students and our faculty benefit. It is absolutely consistent with how John Dewey envisioned a community of learners."
The Kistenbroker Family Artist in Residence Program will bring to Lab's campus artists from across the spectrum of visual and performing arts, including film, music, dance, theater, and new forms of artistic expression using technology and digital media. Each residency will include a strong community component, and might include a culminating performance, exhibition, or talk that would be shared with or presented to the greater Lab and University community.
Says Ms. Heusing, who has been instrumental in helping to realize Lab Arts, "Our hope for this program is that it will raise the profile of Lab's arts programs, and enable us to recruit students who have an interest in art. We can provide an exceptional experience for all our students by creating more opportunities for our faculty to explore and put into practice new ideas for teaching and learning in the arts."
As a culminating element of the Lab+ Campaign, the Laboratory Schools opened Gordon Parks Arts Hall in 2015. John Dewey, the University of Chicago professor and seminal educational theorist whose ideas still shape the experience-centered Laboratory Schools education, called art the most effective mode of communication that exists. He believed every person is an artist at some level, and put art at the center of his educational program—as both a vehicle for moral purpose and path to the highest human qualities. The new facility, which includes three theaters, music, art, and digital media studios, aligns well with Lab's approach to education by supporting a renewed emphasis on "learning by doing," allowing students to experience the artistic process firsthand as they create their own work.