February 25, 1940: A large exhibition of the work of students in the Fine Arts Departments of the New York City high schools opens on Sunday, February 25th, at the Brooklyn Museum with a showing of over 1500 objects created by students in the arts courses. The exhibition will extend through Friday, March 15th. This is a continuation of annual shows of this kind that were interrupted after 1935 when the Museum was remodeled.
Only five of the City’s high schools will not be represented in this comprehensive show. The exhibits are drawn from Art Appreciation Courses, which are required work for all high school students, and the Elective Courses, work chosen by the students which usually is in a useful form of the arts. The scope and the variety of the exhibition are given in the enumeration of some of the classes of exhibits shown which are: pottery, textiles, painting, drawing, fashion designs, caricatures, posters, rug designs, valentines, greeting cards, printed paper designs, menus, interior decoration schemes, sculpture, masks, weaving, block and linoleum prints, wood cuts, stage sets and paper sculpture.
This exhibition is held under the supervision of Forest Grant, Director of Art in the New York City schools. The schools participating are: In Manhattan, Benjamin Franklin, Commerce, George Washington, Haaren, Music and Art, Seward Park, Stuyvesant, Straubenmuller Textile and Washington Irving; in the Bronx, Christopher Columbus, DeWitt Clinton, Evander Childs, James Monroe, Morris, Theodore Roosevelt and Walton; in Brooklyn, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, Bay Ridge, Boys, Brooklyn Technical, Bushwick, Erasmus Hall, Girls, Girls Commercial, James Madison, Lafayette, Manual Training, New Utrecht, Samuel J. Tilden and Thomas Jefferson; in Queens, Andrew Jackson, Bayside, Bryant, Far Rockaway, Flushing, Grover Cleveland, Jamaica, John Adams, Newtown and Long Island City; and in Richmond, Curtis, New Dorp and Tottenville.
Unusual work is shown by the Straubenmuller Textile, Girls Commercial, Haaren, Music and Art, Washington Irving, Christopher Columbus and Lafayette High Schools. From the Straubenmuller School are results of courses in advertising design, costume illustration, textile design and interior architecture and decoration which are four year courses. All the art courses in this school include history of costume and general textiles as well as classes in advanced applied design. The same statements apply generally to the work at Girls Commercial High School. Pottery is shown to be one of the principal activities at the Haaren High School art department which also teaches composition, portraiture and commercial design. Due to the limitation of space the exhibit of the Music and Art High School is a restricted quantity of three dimensional work such as stage set models and objects executed by the Industrial Art Group. Work of this school’s Eighth Term fine arts students could not be shown as it consists of a series of murals which have been installed in the school building. One of the most varied exhibits is that of Washington Irving High School which falls into five divisions: painting from figures and landscapes; textile designs from flower, fruit and museum research studies and patterns for silk, cotton and cretonne; advertising design; fashion illustration; and mannequins and costumes.
Work such as water-colors, lithographs, etchings, pastels, wood block prints, textile embroidery, soap sculpture and metal-work shown by Christopher Columbus School is interesting since it is from one of the two new schools. The courses here as well as at Lafayette have only been carried on for six months.
In making a statement about the exhibition, Mr. Grant said, “The limited space assigned to each high school permits the local art department to show only a few of the best examples of the work done. The exhibit, however, gives each high school art department an opportunity to show its individuality. Each school has its own problem and every art department has its own methods of meeting these problems and satisfying the art needs of the boys and girls under its supervision. The manner in which this has been carefully worked out by the chairman and his corps of art teachers will be found very interesting to those who attend.
“The opportunity to be able to see the achievements of the various art departments side by side in one gallery is likewise deeply appreciated by the Fine Arts Department because it gives to teachers and those interested in art from a pedagogical standpoint the chance to compare methods of teaching and the results of those methods.
“A very large part of the wall space is given to a display of the work of the talented boys and girls in the Elective Art classes. These young people are, in many cases, preparing to make art a part of their life work. It is from this group that the art schools of our city choose those to whom are offered scholarships each year. The Newtown High School is showing as a part of its exhibit the work of two of its students who won these scholarships.
“Probably the most far-reaching art work that is done in the high schools is accomplished in the Art Appreciation classes that are attended by about 80,000 boys and girls. Several of the art departments are showing a sequence of the problems used in developing a finer standard of art judgment among the young people of our schools. The Art Appreciation course offered by the Bay Ridge High School and displayed in the exhibit will be found of special interest because of its strong appeal to young people and its logical development.” (THE END)
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1939 - 1941. 01-02/1940, 048-50.