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Visionary Studio: Saturday Art Workshop

Art + Education

Visionary Studio: Saturday Art Workshop classes connect current social justice issues with dynamic art-making practices and media. Designed for high school students in the New York City area, participating students explore timely issues facing society such as climate change, racism and white supremacy, gender identity and bias, medical apartheid, economics, and politics by learning about the work of contemporary visual artists and drawing upon a rich array of innovative, multidisciplinary artistic approaches through which they can visually express their ideas.

Classes are taught by teams of graduate students in the Initial Certification in Art+Education program. Together, students and teachers consider ways in which artists can and do influence society, and experiment with techniques that include drawing, painting, printmaking, video, photography, 3-dimensional media, and installation. Workshop sessions challenge students to think outside of traditional artistic media and explore how artistic boundaries and influence can be stretched to include what has historically been excluded. As part of the program, students participate in a final exhibition inviting a wide audience of parents, friends, teachers, and NYU faculty, to see their work.

Classes are free and open to students with all levels of art experience!

Sessions run from 10 am–12 pm on Saturday mornings only in the Spring semester (March-May). High School students do not need a portfolio or any previous experience to apply.

Students at gallery show.


Visionary Studio, Spring 2023 in person (8 week program)
 March 18th, March 25th, April 1st, April 8th, April 22nd, April 29th, May 6th, May 13th (Exhibition)
Application Deadline: February 15, 2023


2023 THEMES:


Collective Care: What is the relationship between art practices and mutual aid?

Mutual aid is a form of collective care in which people come together to solve problems and find ways to meet each other’s needs. Mutual aid is not charity, but rather a path for people to build new relationships, expand solidarity, and build political power. In response to the social, economic, and public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic many mutual aid groups appeared in NYC - providing grocery delivery, community fridges, rental assistance, clothing drives and much more. Many of these groups were activated by artists, activists, and arts organizations who saw the need in their communities. In this class, students will explore how artists are thinking about mutual aid as an art activist practice and the kinds of strategies and spaces they have created to keep each other safe, healthy, and alive in this ongoing pandemic.


Go Green!: How can art contribute to environmental activism?

Climate change is one of the defining issues of the 21st century. Rising global temperatures and sea levels are the reasons why we are experiencing more destructive weather patterns than ever before. As our global ecosystem changes rapidly many contemporary artists are focusing their work on environmental activism. Art is a powerful tool to create awareness about the impacts of climate change, and it can inspire visionary strategies to rethink the things we take for granted about the environment and our futures on this planet. In this class, students will build their own knowledge about climate change and environmental justice and create work in a variety of media connecting ideas about planetary health with local and global efforts to make a difference.


No One is Illegal: How do artists address migration and humanize immigration?

Today, the increasing numbers of people moving from their home countries to seek a better life has led to intense global debates about immigration. People may be forced to leave their homes and families because of war, economic insecurity, climate change, political turmoil, or increased violence against the “other”. Starting with the arrival of European colonists in 1592, the U.S. has been populated by people arriving from across the world, displacing the indigenous people who are the original inhabitants. But the US also has a long history of discriminatory and restrictive immigration policies - the first major federal immigration law was the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. Many artists use art not just to reflect or represent the topics of immigration, the refugee crisis, and racism but to make critical interventions into our social and political reality. Their work opens a conversation about borders with the hope of changing the story and public policy. Students will explore how art can create counter stories that humanize our understanding of immigration and refugees using a wide range of media, materials, and creative strategies.


Plugged In: How do artists reveal the critical role social media plays in our lives?

Today social media is an indispensable part of life and has become a vital force that influences and shapes our social, cultural, political and economic lives. Social media is a tool used by people, institutions, corporations, and the government for many things: to communicate, keep up with the news, learn about our community and world, market goods and services, entertain ourselves, and organize protests and boycotts. At the same time, social media can also be a mechanism of surveillance and control. Contemporary artists are exploring different dimensions of social media from its liberating and creative power to its harmful effects. In this course students will consider the varied roles that social media plays in our lives and how we can harness it as an artistic tool to describe its impact on our lives and promote change.



Please Contact Erin Reid, Manager

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The NYU Art+Education Visionary Studios Saturday Workshop is a theme-based studio art program that addresses significant social issues and the ways in which art and artists influence society. Participating high school students choose from different themes and draw upon a rich array of innovative, multidisciplinary approaches to visually express their ideas.

2021 Visionary Studios Exhibition

Students looking at art.

Each year Visionary Studios: Saturday Workshop classes explore current issues and timely social themes. Find out more about past themes and see examples of student artwork and final exhibitions on our program blog.

See Past Visionary Studio Themes

Student Testimonials

From High School Students:

“I was so happy to meet people who share my ideas and want to make a change in our society.” 

I didn’t realize how we as humans are affecting our selves and our planet.  I was surprised that so many artists use climate change as a subject in their art.” 

I learned how important it is to be an activist.”

From Grad Students:

“What I appreciated most about Visionary Studios is that both the teachers and students sustainably embraced the unknown in their respective creative work. I was working with students and we trusted each other every step of the way. That was a gift.”