Artists in Schools & Communities


Virtual Residency Projects

Our amazing Teaching Artists have responded to the pandemic with innovation and empathy, adapting their artistic processes to remote learning in so many incredible ways. We’ll be sharing about these projects, undertaken during both the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 program years, with some taking place in schools and communities right now. Check back here as we will be updating this page frequently as projects begin and conclude!

During the 2020-2021 school year, Teaching Artist/photographer Kara Sambrick continued her working relationship with Allegheny Intermediate Unit 3, translating the high school digital photography workshops she has taught on-site at PCA&M for many years to virtual sessions for AIU3’s Career Connections. This Residency Project was designed to introduce students to the art of digital photography. Students learned about manual camera controls, composition, lighting, and other photography topics. Through various assignments, students learned to use photography as a tool in storytelling resulting in a final photography portfolio.

In summer 2020, Teaching Artist/papermaker Katy DeMent continued her work with Creative Citizens Studios in a 10-session Artist Residency Project, A Journey to the Imagi-Nation, which provided access to digital art classes for 15 participants, some of whom live outside of Allegheny County. Katy has been working, learning, and creating with this group of differently abled artists, ages 13-67, for over five years! After preparing art kits for participants, participants explored how to use and adapt various art tools such as paints, canvases, pencils, charcoal, colored pencils, and pastels to create innovative maps (and map keys), portraits, postcards, creative journals, travel posters, and paintings illustrating their imaginary transportation, companionship, landscapes  and so much more!

In June of 2020, Teaching Artist/interdisciplinary Maritza Mosquera explored virtual artistic connection on an international scale, with Art with Mom© She wrote: “[The project] lead students of all ages and in various parts of the world on creative works based on a variety of anchor artists and ideas. Using a variety of mediums the 28 member Facebook group from various parts of the world including Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Australia, New Zealand and Ecuador, explored watercolors, collage, printmaking, multi-media visual arts and drawing. They learned about artists and their moms and moms who are artists.” The project mixed synchronous and asynchronous content, social media engagement, art history, dialogue, and discussion to beautiful results.

In March 2021, fifty kindergartners in two classrooms at Pittsburgh Beechwood PreK-5 learned/created with Teaching Artist/interdisciplinary artist Lindsay Woge in “break-out rooms” of 6-7 children to work toward brainstorming, composing, and publishing multiple original collaborative stories using facial expressions, handmade props, and sound-effects as well as elements of narrative, such as setting, character, and plot.  The students got into the storytelling mood each session while meeting crazy characters, rewriting fairy tales, and learning silly songs.

During the 2020-2021 program year, Teaching Artists Staycee Pearl/PearlArts created The Virtual Youth Dance Combo Program, a Zoom-based 10-session dance program in partnership with Kelly Strayhorn Theater. This virtual residency taught two age groups the fundamentals of creative movement, ballet, and hip hop. Students age 6-8 explored creative movement and hip hop every week and were introduced to new vocabulary, channeling their natural energy and expressiveness. Students age 9-12 committed to studying five weeks of ballet history and techniques then spent five weeks integrating their discoveries in old school breakdance and house phrases. By the end of the program, children embodied a well-rounded dance vocabulary and gained insight into dance’s impact on cultural history.

In October 2020, Teaching Artist/interdisciplinary artist Lindsay Woge worked with fifty fifth graders in two core groups at Pittsburgh Roosevelt PreK-5 on The Light that Shines from Withinexploring how artists convey emotions and ideas using the “language” of visual arts (line, shape, form, color, composition, etc.). From exploring the art of the emoji to deeply discussing the use of metaphor in abstract works of art, learners dove into the world of symbolism, while generating and displaying symbols of their own inner strengths as free-standing paper sculptures.

Teaching Artist/ceramicist Laura Jean McLaughlin worked with Winchester Thurston Upper School art teacher Mary Martin to bring her 9th grade clay class a virtual experience that enabled students to explore a variety of materials centering around the theme of Journey. Laura Jean writes: “In the uncertain times during the pandemic, we encouraged the students to play, use their imaginations, and to collaborate with one another virtually. We sent packages to students that included materials such as watercolors, plasticine, and scratchboard. Students explored coffee painting with household materials such as rice and salt and included the watercolors. We created journey vessels out of the plasticine thinking about what you would take on a journey if you could only choose three items. The exquisite corpse game was played by cutting out images that were sent to the students in the packages which included head, shoulders, knees, and toes of old stock black and white imagery. It was fun to see the variety of images that the students came up with. The scratchboard imagery that the students created described an imaginary journey that the students were taking. It was a joy bouncing ideas off one another during our critiques about the work that we shared with each another.”