Art Aware Director’s Profile

Barbara Pfeiffer (by Steve Wills, PMA educator)

“The most important thing is getting the kids to own the art for themselves and tell what they think about it—for them to give their ideas and put their mark on the paper.”

This is the primary mission for Barbara Pfeiffer—who one day recently taught a second and a fourth grade class at one area school and followed with a first and seventh grade class at another school. It is a schedule requiring flexibility and travel, and represents the culmination of a long journey for Barbara: founder and director of Art Aware, an art appreciation program for inner city elementary school students in Camden, New Jersey, and Philadelphia.

Barbara’s journey, even at its earliest stages, cultivated an appreciation of other cultures and how art can represent that appreciation. “Born and raised in Manhattan, I attended Marymount School, across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Music, art, theatre, and literature were integral to my upbringing. A BA in communication from the University of Michigan led to an administrative assistant job in New York City at Franklin Book Programs, a publisher of American classics in foreign languages.

“Then I went to Tokyo for three years and taught English Conversation at Futaba Girls School (famous for Empress Michiko’s attendance). English was a vehicle for teaching about American culture—as I knew it from multicultural New York City. I also began a life-long study of Japanese culture and language.

“After Japan I did administrative assistant work at the East West Center on the University of Hawaii campus, teaching English conversation on the side and studying Japanese. My father’s health brought me to Cherry Hill where I discovered the Art Goes to School program and fell in love with it. Through reproductions of art, ancient to modern, 700 volunteers bring multicultural perspectives into the lives of 125,000 elementary students in Delaware Valley suburban schools each year.

“After my father died, I moved to Camden to start a pottery business and to start Art Aware for inner city students with the forty-year organizational model of Art Goes to School. Art Aware differs due to a lack of city parents able to volunteer. Basically, the program is the same. A few volunteers and I each partner with an art teacher in a particular school, offering interactive art appreciation presentations to that teacher’s students. In our twenty-two-year history, we have been to approximately 40 different public, charter and parochial schools in Camden and in Philadelphia— and to some schools many, many times.

One Response to “Art Aware Director’s Profile”

  1. Art Aware – 2008 and 09 – Philadelphia Museum of Art Interview | Artaware's Blog Says:

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