The Project Mission and Participants

The mission of the Encounters Project is multifaceted and involves three different groups of participants that each benefited in unique ways. The three different groups of participants involved with the program were the supporting organizations, the undergraduate teaching mentors, and the high school students. Each of these groups worked together to create an enriching educational experience, fostering an open exchange of knowledge for all involved.

Three Phases

The Encounters Project unfolded in three phases over the course of one semester. The first, involved us, the undergraduates, learning to teach public art lessons to high school students. These lessons were then implemented in the form of site visits and classroom activities to study local and global public works. In the second phase, we shifted from studying to creating, asking each student to create their own original works.

Learning to Teach

The first phase of the project for the undergraduate teaching mentors was to learn how to teach art history lessons. These are the boarder learning objectives of the course, for both the undergraduate teaching mentors and for the SciTech students:

To examine the art works that surround us every day in public space; to understand better how public art changes and is changed by its surrounding urban context

Lesson Timeline

January 23rd  What is "Art"?

  • Students defined “art” and worked collaboratively to rank works based on their definition. 


January 24th What is public art? And what is the Encounters Project?

Defining "Art"

We started the teaching portion of the class at a very basic level because we were unsure how familiar and confident students were talking about art. We wanted to establish that each person has a slightly different definition of art, and with that there are not right or wrong answers. The first day of class, we had planned an activity that involved students creating a definition of Art, and they were required to rank how different pieces fit that definition from the most applicable to the least.

Encountering Through Site Visits

Site visits were an important component of the program because they allow students to confront the monuments and works that they might see everyday. Giving them some background and some time to engage with the works leads them to identify the larger ideas within the work.


Encountering Through Classroom Activities

Although physical trips to a local sites were a major component of the class, we included examples of public art from other areas of the world, to acknowledge the similarities in our human and cultural histories. Some of these sites included Holocaust memorials in Berlin, war memorials in Washington DC, and Krystof Wodiczko’s Abraham Lincoln: War Veteran Projection.

The Final Exhibition

The Encounters Project exhibition is the culminating point where all of the goals of the program come together to celebrate the final projects of the high school students and our work as the undergraduates. For the high school students, their individual works are displayed with images and activities that uncover their creative process. The work of the undergraduates is also shown in the form of retrospective pieces that reflect on their experience teaching in the program.


Featured Artists

Each of the final projects can be connected to an artist, site, or voice that was studied earlier in the Encounters Project. I have selected three examples where there is a connection between the lesson material and the final works that were produced by the students.