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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.


Spring 2023 Visionary Studio applications will be live in early January 2023 for the program beginning March 2023.

Please check in early January for the application form and themes for Visionary Studio 2023. 


2022 THEMES:

My Body, My Choice! How is the body a contemporary battleground?

The body has always been a battleground. Current legal debates and changes to state laws regarding abortion have ignited protests across the country as activists fight for bodily autonomy. At the same time, the phrase “my body, my choice” (a former rallying cry for the pro-choice and feminist movements) has been co-opted by anti-vaxxers who oppose public health mandates for face masks and vaccination. The role of artists in these conversations is critical, as their work can help us shift the way we think about and understand these issues. In this class, students will explore the ways that the body has become a site and symbol of protest and create artworks to explore the relationships between ideas of personal freedom and public accountability in contemporary times.

Empty Bowls: How can artists address food insecurity?

Food is a basic human right. In 2020, over 38 million children and adults in the US are food insecure, which according to the US Department of Agriculture means that they do not get consistent access to enough food for an active and healthy life. The pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity, which is clearly visible along social class and racial lines. Contemporary socially engaged artists are using the power of art to understand, influence, and shape positive changes to address food insecurity. This class will explore how artists and community organizers are involved in the food justice movement and will use multimedia approaches to artmaking to contribute new ideas and perspectives towards changemaking.

Manufacturing Education: Who is the ‘public’ in public school and who gets to decide what we learn?

Public schools and curriculum in the United States have always been sites of conflict. Whose histories are taught are whose are left out? Which books are students encouraged to read and which are banned? What kinds of behaviors are expected? What forms of discipline are used? Today, legislators and parents across the country are fighting over pandemic protocols and critical race theory. Contemporary artists often critique and borrow educational strategies in their work, suggesting ways we might reimagine who education is for and what it could look like. In this class, students will explore their own experiences of schooling, imagine new educational spaces and materials, and redesign education for a more inclusive public through multimedia arts investigations.  

You/Me/Us/Them: Why do we fear the other?

Xenophobia, a term used to describe the fear of others, has played an integral role in the history and development of the United States. Recent political events have fueled anti-Asian bigotry, leading to an increase in hate crimes and racist violence during the pandemic. Artists have always been at the frontlines of addressing and combatting the realities of racism and xenophobia, using artwork to make visible the lines society draws between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ In this class, students will examine the historic roots and current forms of bias and fear through the work of contemporary artists, creating their own artworks in order to raise awareness and propel 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.”