The Kistenbroker Family Artist in Residence Program

Beginning in 2017, philanthropic support from Cynthia Heusing and Lab Board Chair David Kistenbroker created the Kistenbroker Family Artist in Residence Program. The program furthers 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," said 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 in 2017, the first of these residencies, was Allison
McGourty and Bernard McMahon, creators, writers, producers, and directors of a multi-part BBC/PBS documentary, American Epic, that explores the birth of the recording industry, and that 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," said 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 brings to Lab's campus artists from across the spectrum of visual and performing arts, including film, music, dance, theater, including the culinary arts, and new forms of artistic expression using technology and digital media. Each residency includes a strong community component, and includes a culminating performance, exhibition, or talk that would be shared with or presented to the greater Lab and University community.

Said Ms. Heusing, who has been instrumental in helping to realize Lab Arts, "Our hope for this program is that it raises 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.

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