ACCESS TO ART: About a year ago, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) joined a handful of other city cultural institutions in the STAMP Program, an initiative of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. In this program, Philadelphia students between the ages of 14 and 19 can get free admission to museums and cultural venues. The goal, explains STAMP Teen Council member Jordan Deal (pictured), is “to try to expand access to art and culture to teens and kids.”
OPEN-DOOR POLICY: Rebecca Huff Hunter, communications associate at the ICA, brainstormed about how the ICA could reach out to even more young people beyond the STAMP program. She landed on the idea of a high school internship, and specifically, proposed linking up with the well-established program at Mastery Charter Schools. ICA’s leadership liked the idea of opening its doors to a Philadelphia high school student, so Hunter attended an information session at Hardy Williams High School, and welcomed Brianna Jamison-Reddick, a Mastery Charter School student, and the ICA’s first high school intern, in the spring of 2014.
NEW EXPERIENCES: This past summer, the ICA hosted a second intern, Deal, who is a senior at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Hunter says staffers at the ICA had met Deal through his work with the STAMP council, knew he was interested in art, and asked him to be the summer intern. Deal says he wasn’t overly familiar with the ICA—which was one of the reasons he joined the STAMP council in the first place, and a reason he jumped at the opportunity to intern at the museum. “I just decided to go with the internship, and I’m super-glad that I did.”
A VARIETY OF JOBS: Hunter says that she wanted to expose the interns to a variety of tasks, as well as to the diverse people who work at the museum. Jamison-Reddick posted Instagram images, and Deal wrote tweets and blog posts. They also shadowed people with different jobs at the museum, including preparators who assemble the installations. “They’re working artists who work part-time at the ICA,” says Hunter. “It was a really fun experience. [The interns] saw that you could be an artist, but you could [also] have a professional job.”
EVERYONE HAS A STORY: For a blog on ICA’s website, Deal wrote about his experience shadowing staffers, and conducted interviews with some members of the ICA team. “I wasn’t always a strong writer, so trying to do the blog posts and interviews and writing about my experiences—it was something new,” he says. “I became more interested in people.” Deal even sat down with Chief Curator Ingrid Schaffner. “[Deal] made her feel like a star and he carefully thought about these questions and wanted to learn from her—and she felt touched by that,” Hunter says.
A COMMUNITY OF ARTISTS: Amy Sadao, the ICA’s Daniel W. Dietrich II director, says the museum is thrilled to welcome young artists from West Philadelphia. “We believe that works of art have the power to transform people, and through people, the world,” she says. “By opening our doors to Philadelphia and providing one-on-one mentoring from the ICA’s fantastic staff, we will prepare local teens to transform their communities.”
LOOKING AHEAD: Deal says he doesn’t have any artistic boundaries, and paints, does illustrations, draws, and sculpts—always eager to learn more and find his specialty. He plans to attend an art college and hopes to get into film and gaming as a concept artist. Deal says his experience at the ICA has been an invaluable part of this education. “They’ve really taught me how to reach out to people from different organizations and different institutions,” he says. “I’ve learned totally different skills—how to be innovative when it comes to problem-solving because there’s not just one way to do something.”