RMIT: RMIT collaborates with leading cultural institutions to exhibit student art

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An LED light installation created by secondary school students as part of an RMIT equity outreach program is lighting up the Chinese Museum in Melbourne’s CBD.

Wyndham Central Secondary College Year 11 art students have worked to create an LED light installation that reflects the spirit of the Museum of Chinese Australian History, as part of an RMIT Equity Outreach program.

In collaboration with RMIT, the Chinese Museum set a brief for the students to explore unnoticed marginal spaces and how these small, often overlooked places can extend our imaginative experience of urban life.

“My artwork is about people coming together, sitting under the moon. Togetherness is inspired by the mid-Autumn Festival and explores what brings people together,” said Wyndham Central student Ellie Monk, who had her artwork chosen to be installed.
“This is the first time I have created a design for a light artwork using shape without fine detail but still convey a message.”

Grace Leone, PhD candidate (School of Architecture and Urban Design) and equity outreach creative producer and educator, said that the opportunity allowed students to develop art and design skills while allowing students to see themselves reflected in the city.

“This collaboration has created an opportunity for secondary school students to contribute to and see themselves as a part of the everchanging Melbourne context,” said Leone.

Mark Wang, CEO of The Chinese Museum said the collaboration brought about an unlikely, yet inspiring connectivity between creative students, Melbourne’s urban city spaces and Chinese culture heritage.

“I congratulate Ellie for creating the inaugural exhibit in The Slot Gallery – a place to discover creativity from a different perspective.”

Carving out identities at NGV
In August, a similar RMIT Equity Outreach program facilitated another art and design experience as part of the Smith Family’s SmArts program.

Named Contouring Identities, the public artwork is inspired by The Picasso Century exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) and is on display at the Learning Studios at NGV International and at RMIT University’s Media Precinct.

Students from Wyndham Central College, Hume Central Secondary College and Manor Lakes College engaged with the creative technique of blind contour drawing; a drawing exercise where an artist draws the outline of a subject in one continuous line. Applying this technique using Adobe Photoshop, students created portraits of each other and explored ways to represent individual identities through collage.

“This is the first time NGV has collaborated with RMIT on school students creating art installations,” said Elizabeth Gage, Educator, NGV.

“Not only has this work brought a sense of energy to the NGV Learn Studios space but also inspired other visiting students to explore their own creativity. Education opportunities of this nature are incredibly valuable in building a sense of community, belonging and familiarity among students.”

For these Year 9 and 10 students, the opportunity to showcase their work has also opened doors to higher education, with the partnership designed to capture the breadth of artistic talent found in Melbourne’s suburbs while encouraging these budding young artists and designers to build aspirations for further study into the future.

The Smith Family’s Victorian General Manager Anton Leschen said he was delighted the charity could partner with RMIT once again to deliver an experience to students who otherwise might not have considered artistic study or employment opportunities.

“SmArts is based on research that shows taking part in creative activities builds self-confidence, develops social skills, and allows young people to explore and understand career options before choosing VCE subjects,” Leschen said.

“Not only does the program help students further refine their promising skills, it encourages them to stay engaged in their education and exposes them to future opportunities which may be suited to their artistic interests and talents.”

The benefits of public art
Wyndham Central College student Yoah believes the experience has given them a greater sense of direction about what they want from their education.

“SmArts has been really captivating me personally,” Year 10 student Yoah shared – adding that creating artworks had been a great way of exploring and expressing her own identity.

Year 9 student, Sayku is one of the youngest participants in this year’s cohort. Her work drew on news articles, which she said was representative of the times we lived in.

[Photo 02 Installation view NGV International, Melbourne. Sayku -LS] Sayku from Wyndham Central College and her artwork as part of the RMIT Equity Outreach project at NGV International, Melbourne. Source: Image courtesy of The Smith Family.
An aspiring artist, Sayku said the experience at RMIT had given her inspiration to experiment with art and look at unexplored opportunities to expand her study and career options in the future.

“Art is a great way of being able to explore the world. I want to take that inspiration to create new pieces,” she said.

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