High school students have spent three days in the city engaging with RMIT’s Urban Animators: Living Laboratory public art program, experiencing the art, culture and construction of Melbourne’s CBD.
SmArts, now in its sixth year, is a collaboration between RMIT and The Smith Family.
The program aims to give students an insight into art and design careers, build their confidence and explore tertiary study options.
This year students from Wyndham Central College and Hume Central Secondary College worked together on ‘city:CHAIR’, a cross disciplinary art and design activity that challenged them to examine Melbourne’s urban cityscape - then reinterpret their observations into public art.
The Year 9and 10 students were led on a “city derive” by New Academic Street (NAS) Urban Animators: Living Laboratory curator Grace Leone, taking them past RMIT’s Design Hub, the Queen Victoria market and through the lively construction of Franklin Street.
“We took the students on this path to show them the diversity and evolution of Melbourne’s CBD,” Leone said.
“It was important to make sure they could document a variety of themes, so that when they went to repurpose their experience into art they had a wealth of ideas to draw on”.
Students were also invited to an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, viewing “Creating the Contemporary Chair”, prior to a creative workshop where they collaged images from their city walk onto repurposed chairs.
The final result is a public art exhibition at RMIT’s City campus on “Academic Street” (Building 12, Level 4).
Until September, the exhibition displays 15 of the collaged chairs which respond to different questions the students were prompted with throughout the program, such as “The city needs more…” or “The best thing about walking around the city is…”.
Students from both schools led staff from RMIT, NAS and The Smith Family through the exhibition at a launch event, speaking about their experience and inspiration behind the art.
“Because the design for my chair was irregular, I could do whatever pattern I wanted” said one student from Hume.
“When we walked through the city to take photos of different signs and symbols I didn’t really know how we’d turn it into art, but I’m really happy with how it looks on display.”
The SmArts program is one of many on-campus programs that give students an insight into career opportunities and what it would be like to study at RMIT.
Students attending selected Schools Network Access Program (SNAP) partner schools are invited to participate in this suite of programs, called I Belong.
Lara Rafferty, Manager of RMIT's Equity and Diversity Unit, said that the SmArts program reflects the kind of collaborative industry projects that RMIT students work on.
“It gives secondary students not only a great insight into career opportunities in the creative industries, but also an understanding of what it is like to be a university or vocational education student."
Story: Kat Chomkowicz