Archive for February, 2015

Art Aware – 2010/11 – AGTS and AAUW

February 28, 2015

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Art Aware has made many connections during its 24 years of existence.

Those connections have helped me to implement trips for inner city students to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Academy of Music, the Kimmel Center and to the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City. I have connections that I’ve maintained to schools in Tokyo and Honolulu from teaching there in the sixties and seventies – but haven’t been able to come up with the funding to take students there physically, much as I’d like to!

Instead, Art Aware takes inner city students around the world through reproductions of art, as Art Goes to School (AGTS) volunteers do in suburban schools. Working with full time art teachers in dozens of schools in Philadephia and in Camden we have initiated art work from hundreds, no, thousands, of children, and put it into murals for display, in order to emphasis the importance of art in elementary education.

We support art-teacher-initiated work in our yearly Camden Students at Peace Doing Art poster.

On our website (, and on my Blog (, I have links to artwork from kids around the world. Inner city children are multicultural by virtue of where they live. It is exciting to see it brought out in their creative endeavors.

For many years Sylvia Farrey and I were co-chairs of the Children’s Concerts, sponsored by the Camden County Branch of AAUW. She died suddenly this year. I so miss our collaboration. She would take care of the fund raising for taking 25 children, parents and teachers to the five subscription series every year. I would take care of choosing the schools. Sometimes my Art Aware and AAUW hats would become one when, before the concert, we got the children to listen and draw pictures to a CD of the music the Philadelphia Orchestra would be playing.

In 2010, Art Aware sponsored a busload of 8th graders from Urban Promises’ Camden Forward School to see The Lion King. They were so well-versed before the performance, listening to the music and studying Julie Taymor’s artistry. The same art teachers, Julie Kring-Schreifels and Karen Baker, prepared students for a trip to the Picasso Exhibition at the PMA which Art Aware made possible. You can see the students’ artwork which resulted from those trips on Blogs from March 2, April 18 and May 5, 2010.

Art Aware – 2008 and 09 – Philadelphia Museum of Art Interview

February 28, 2015


Go to these pages for full view of photos and text from PMA interview:

“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.
From a conversation with Barbara Pfeiffer:
“For several years in the mid-90s the Camden County prosecutor’s office produced 10,000 copies of a calendar with kids’ artwork. It was wonderful! Then the committee, of which I was a member, decided they couldn’t do it any more. I said ‘That’s terrible! Everyone loves it so. Let Art Aware take it over.’ And so we did—for a few years.
“I mixed the calendar art from the kids with pieces from well-known artists. There was this wonderful peace figure, with a cross and a peace sign, but no head.
The artist was a first grader. It was a perfect segue to Picasso! Then another, by a young girl, was of a road lined with flowers, and that was a good segue to Monet.

“The calendar was a great project but it took so much time to raise funds and distribute the 10,000 copies we had little time in the classroom. So in 2002, I changed from an Art Aware calendar to a yearly poster of “Camden Children at Peace Doing Art.” We produce different sized color posters and distribute about 300 of them yearly to the schools and the communities that put them on display. They have been in the schools, post offices, supermarkets, City Hall, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and even at a special, very large, ten-month exhibition at Cooper Hospital. The 2008 poster represents student artwork, initiated by their art teachers, from 17 schools.”
Art Aware Reflections as told to Steve Wills, PMA Educator

“The goal of Art Aware is to celebrate art, individual creativity, and the accessibility of art—for elementary school kids—so that they can put their mark on the page. I’m very interested in peace in the world, in people getting along; and I think that, as Americans we have a unique perspective on that. Although we are two or three generations removed from our native countries, we are always looking to get back to our roots, so I love to examine the human condition and get that idea across to inner city kids. And the kids—whether they are from Cherry Hill or from the inner cities of Camden or Philadelphia—they all love the artwork. When you draw a square with four lines and then draw another square on top of it—it is still just flat.
Then you draw the diagonal lines which connect one square to another and suddenly it’s magic! It’s not just flat anymore. From there we talk about how a painting is made on a flat canvas. How do artists do this?”

One of Barbara’s favorite assignments for children involves a painting by Vincent van Gogh of his bedroom. She uses the idea of the diagonal lines from the drawing of a cube to show how he uses slanted lines to create perspective. “There’s a picture frame. You have slanted lines on the picture frame.” Her students draw variations on van Gogh’s bedroom. In fact, “what they love is seeing variations famous artists have done on the masters of the past, and the connections artists have made with history. That’s important for kids to see—that we’re always learning from the past.
Roy Lichtenstein did a variation of van Gogh’s bedroom, and the kids see it right away. Also African American artist Horace Pippin did several variations on Edward Hicks’s The Peaceable Kingdom.”

“This year has been a year of exhibiting the kids’ artwork, especially when the Governor’s Symposium on Community Transformation came up and a third grader’s “Motivating Music” from the Art Aware ’08 poster was used for the logo, and with all those paintings at Cooper Hospital. It’s important that people see. The kids work so hard.”

The spirit, holy and otherwise, that is the human, universal experience
I want to be a part of that and to leave behind a message that
I have been a part of it
It will take the rest of my life to figure out how.
–from a poem by Barbara Pfeiffer

Art Aware – 2006/07 – The Lion King, Japan and China

February 28, 2015

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Art Aware classes in 2006 and 2007 were highlighted with themes from China and Japan.

In anticipation of a trip to Asia which Director, Barbara Pfeiffer took with a group of educators for sixteen days in April, 2007, elementary school classes had the experience of doing what Chinese and Japanese painters have been doing, in stylized form, for centuries: drawing trees.

Art Aware initiated and collected for display and study the drawings of skeletal, deciduous, winter trees of approximately 500 students at Davis Elementary School in Camden.

In 2006, Art Aware sponsored trips to see the Broadway production of Julie Taymor’s “Lion King” in Philadelphia. The influence of the Japanese art of mask making could be seen in the show. It paved the way for 2007 classes studying the mask-like, live expressions of the actors in Kabuki Theatre.

Also in 2006, in collaboration with the American Association of University Women, Camden Country Branch, Ms. Pfeiffer coordinated trips to the Kimmel Center, one of which was to see “The Chinese Zodiac” and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Learning about Chinese instruments would be a precurser to learning about Chinese styles of paintings which would be shown at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2007 in the exhibition of “Japanese Masters of the Brush.”

Painting, music and poetry are all combined in the ancient arts of the East and will be increasingly combined in Art Aware classes in 2008 as the world prepares for all the publicity which will be generated by China’s Olympics debut.

Art Aware’s website has also been expanded to include a global perspective of elementary school art education.

Through the 2006 and 2007 Art Aware Posters of Camden students’ work, Ms. Pfeiffer introduced Camden’s elementary schools to three elementary schools in Tokyo, Japan and created links on Art Aware’s website to those elementary schools as well as to schools in New York and Philadelphia with which Art Aware has connections.

Ms. Pfeiffer’s teaching experiences in Tokyo and Hawaii have greatly influenced the direction Art Aware has taken in Camden and Philadelphia during the past twenty years.

Bringing reproductions of artwork from around the world from ancient to modern into elementary school classrooms expands the horizons of inner city children. Working with art teachers from many different schools and with institutions such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Art Aware is able to help students feel they are a part of an ever widening global perspective.

Art Aware – 2005 – Camden Elementary School Art Teachers

February 28, 2015

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Art Aware scouts selected the artwork for the “2006 Camden Children at Peace Doing Art” poster from 14 public and parochial elementary schools.*

The Camden School District should be commended for having art teachers in every elementary school. Look at the artwork they initiated from all ages (see grade levels in parentheses)! Such creativity! Such variety!

Collages made from small pieces of paper (5th, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd)

A large flower design in Georgia O’Keeffe style (1st)

A landscape. Paint is eyedropped onto the paper and then the students blow through straws to push the paint where they want it to go. (4th)
Variations of Vincent Van Gogh’s starry day/night (2nd)
Watercolors and markers used in intricate designs (2nd, 2nd, 7th)

A still life and a button/straw collage by kindergarteners

A stained-glass window, a tissue paper collage (2nd, 4th)
A watercolor/crayon-resist islandscape (2nd)

A pre-K monoprint, a close-up eye study (5th)

A portrait, a 3-D construction of Nefertiti (4th)

It is essential that each student’s creativity be encouraged and celebrated. It has been proven (see article on website) that art activities raise success levels in all academic areas.

In 2005, after presenting reproductions of fine artwork, Art Aware presenters often demonstrated in hands-on exercises that one doesn’t have to be able to draw realistic images in order to create great art. Modern artists such as the Impressionists, the Abstract Expressionists, Piet Mondrian, Victor Vasarely and others illustrated this point.

And to prove that each student could tap into his or her creativity we had the class do small designs which we put into a larger mural which turned into GREAT ARTWORK and celebrated the ingenuity of the whole class.

In 2006 we look forward to taking classes to the Andrew Wyeth retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and to performances of Julie Taymor’s “The Lion King” at the Academy of Music (June 14 and July 5) in addition to our usual activities of enabling students to tap into their inner resources through examining reproductions of fine art.

*Names of schools (and their art teachers): Bonsall (Gail), Cramer (Watkins), Cream (Neely), Davis (Grey, Sherby), Forest Hill (Spann, Jones), Holy Name (Mattern), Mcgraw (Mann), Molina (Harrington), Parkside (Auge), St. Joe’s Pro Cathedral (Brown), Sharp (Saeger),Sumner (Allen, Savarese), Washington (Sassano), Yorkship (Baskin, MacArthur).

Art Aware – 2004 – Romare Bearden

February 28, 2015

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This was the year for Art Aware to celebrate African American artists, including Horace Pippin, Faith Ringgold, William H. Johnson, Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden.
From January to June, we made presentations to approximately 4,050 students in six schools (Bonsall, Cramer, Gesu, Sacred Heart, Molina and Sharp).

From September to December, we focused on Romare Bearden in eight Camden schools (Bonsall, Cooper’s Poynt, Cramer, Molina, Parkside, Sharp, Sumner, Washington) and in one Philadelphia school (Gesu). Two hundred and twenty-five students received in-depth preparation on Bearden through slide presentations and art-making workshops and then were taken to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City to see Bearden’s original artwork. (See Lesson Plan.)

How the students (grades 3 to 8) enjoyed being introduced to Romare Bearden (1911-1988) – one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century. And what outstanding artwork they produced which will be displayed in their schools and in public places for the remainder of the ‘04/’05 academic year.

The collage Art Aware created to introduce students to Bearden describes well what they experienced this year. Through Romare Bearden’s work they appreciated what a “Renaissance man” he was in how he introduced images from the past into his own 20th century collages.

They heard Wynton and Branford Marsalis’ jazz tributes to the artist and could see the rhythms in Bearden’s artwork. (See jazz CD in Bearden Resources List)

Through the students’ own art-making, influenced by Bearden, they came to understand how the world can be made whole through scholarship, art and music.

Art Aware most certainly fulfilled its Mission Statement this year – that of “enabling students to see the life-giving force of art, each in his or her own way.”

Art Aware – 2003 – Empowerment Through Art

February 28, 2015

aa200315f 2003It has been a fantastic year for Art Aware in Camden City. In collaboration with teachers, administrators and skilled volunteers, we have reached nearly 5,000 students with our mesage peace empowerment through art.

Our mission is to serve inner city elementy school students by initiating, supporting and supplementing art in Camden City public and parochial schools.

Camden children are at peace doing art in their classrooms. And this peace translates to student success! Yet, despite research proving the educational necessity of art, it is often still cut in a budget crunch.

Art Aware believes this to be a travesty of education. So we do whatever we can to see that it doesn’t happen!

In 2003 we visited every classroom in 7 schools (Washington, Holy Name, Molina, Sharp, Davis, Cooper’s Poynt, and Cramer). With our interactive presentations using reproductions of paintings, we supplemented every art teacher’s efforts to meet the standards of the NJ State Core Curriculum.

We gave awards lo student artists, beautifully designed by Emdur Metal Products in Camden, which included the artwork of each student from this year’s Peace Poster mounted on a wooden plaque.

In 2004, we would like to bring our art appreciation classes to even more elementary schools in the city and continue to raise up exemplary students and teachers in Camden, as they deserve to be recognized and celebrated!

Art Aware Newsletter 2001 AAUW and Philadelphia Orchestra

February 28, 2015

butterfly 2001 newsletter

The highlights of the year were when Art Aware staff collaborated with AAUW (the American Association of University Women) members on trips for Camden children to Philadelphia Orchestra concerts.
For 33 years the Camden County branch of AAUW has been taking 100 Camden children a year to the five Saturday morning subscription series children’s concerts by the Philadelphia Orchestra.

A few weeks before each of the concerts in the 2000/2001 season, Art Aware and AAUW members visited the classrooms with an art activity which supplemented the music the students would hear at each concert.

Prior to the January 6th concert featuring Aaron Copeland’s “Appalachian Spring”, the Education Department of the Philadelphia Orchestra sponsored a photo contest in which subscribers were supposed to send in snapshots of children posing with their favorite “simple gift” (the theme of a part of the music). Art Aware/AAUW had 4th graders from Cramer School draw their favorite simple gift and then took photos of them with their drawings. The winning photos were to be shown on large screens at the Academy of Music while the Philadelphia Orchestra played the theme.

Every photo we submitted to the contest won!

What follows are two written accounts of the experience.

What an Experience – #1

The Philadelphia Orchestra played Copeland’s “Simple Gifts” on the stage at the PA Academy of Music while close-up, individual photos of twelve Cramer 4th graders holding up a drawing of a simple gift were shown on huge screens on both sides of the proscenium.

Each photo was shown for a full ten seconds before moving on to the next one.

It seemed as if there were a thousand children and adults in the concert hall looking at the students in Ms. Seidan’s class holding up his or her beautiful artwork.

High up in the ampitheatre sat the students from Cramer Elementary School taking it all in – seeing themselves and their friends on the screen in partnership with the Philadelphia Orchestra performing way down below on the stage.

The feeling of collaboration ws awesome! Cramer students participated with the Philadelphia Orchestra in illustrating Copland’s music. Then there were members of AAUW who bought the tickets, and Art Aware, who initiated the artwork and the music teacher from Cramer School who coached the students……all together under the same roof in the magnificent Academy of Music.

What an experience!

What an Experience #2

In 4th grade, I went to a concert for the first time in my life. It was on a Saturday morning. The Philadelphia Orchestra performed. I sat with my classmates high up in the theatre. It was so high and the stops were so steep, I was afraid to walk down to my seat, so I bumped down on my rear end…

A few months before, my teacher and some guest teachers had us listen to some music that was going to be played at the concert – Aaron Copeland’s “Appalacian Spring” – that part which became the song “Simple Gifts.”

While we were listening to the music, we were told to draw our “favorite simple gift.” I drew a flower.

Then the teachers took a photograph of each of us holding up our finished artwork to send into the Academy of Music – for the contest they were having.

…the lights dimmed in the theatre. The musicians looked like puppets on the stage so far away. We were on the top of a mountain – in the ampitheatre.

On either side of the proscenium were two large screens. When the orchestra started playing “Simple Gifts,” on both of the large screens – bigger than life – were shown pictures of a girl holding up her artwork. It was one of my classmates! Then came another slide on the two screens – another classmate! And then THERE I WAS on these huge screens, in this huge Academy of Music, holding up my yellow and red flower – with such a happy face!

I looked so good – my artwork looked so good . I never looked so good. My artwork never looked so good! Was that because so many people were looking at it!?

Every photo that the teachers had sent in had been chosen as a winner in the photo contest and was shown in the darkened Academy of Music while the Philadelphia Orchestra played.

It was awesome!

Me and my classmates right there in that huge place in the middle of all that music. It made us think about being part of another kind of world from the one we had come from.

Art Aware Newsletter – 2000 Peace Calendars

February 27, 2015

a5 Artaware Newletter 2000 calendar
Camden children need to be acknowledged tor the good work that they do!
The 2001 Peace Calendar of Camden students’ artwork is in production. In December, ten thousand copies will be distributed to every public and private elementary school classroom in Camden, government offices, businesses, supermarkets, churches, students, parents, citizens, etc.

Plans are underway to collaborate with Rutgers University and the American Association of University Women for Art Aware classes and trips for elementary school children in the fall.

Dr. John Giannotti, Chairman of the Fine Arts Department of Rutgers will introduce the Calendar with a letter stating how visual art in Camden contributes to peace in students’ lives and to the life of the city itself!

The following is a brief summary of Art Aware activities from 7/1/99 to 6/30/00:

Art Aware Peace Calendars – 1) 10,000 Y2K Calendars produced and distributed, 2) interaction with 30 public & private Camden elementary schools for 2001 Calendar contest, 3) 2001 Calendar artwork chosen, layout completed.
Art Aware classes – for approximately 2,000 students at public and private elementary schools, after-school and summer recreation sites.
Art Aware sponsored trips – for 750 students to various sites including: 1) Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2) Camden Children’s Garden at the N.J. State Aquarium, 3) Camden Neighborhood Renaissance Arts Festival.
Aware exhibitions of students’ artwork – (approx. 2,500 pieces) and student photos (approx. 500) at various sites including: 1) elementary schools, 2) City Hall, 3) NJ State Aquarium and Camden Children’s Garden, 4) UMDNJ (Univ. of Medicine & Dentistry of NJ), 5) Camden Neighborhood Renaissance Arts Festival, 6) Camden Housing Authority headquarters and recreation sites, 7) South Jersey Performing Arts Center, 8) Blockbuster Sony E-Centre, 9) Campbell Soup Foundation, 10) L-3 Communications, 11) Camden Pathmark Supermarket.
After ten years, Art Aware is finally being recognized as a creative influence in the schools, in the lives of Camden children and in the community. Camden’s face is changing and Art Aware and all of its supporters can take some of the credit.
Residents, young and old, and visitors are smiling because, through Art Aware, they know some of the positive accomplishments of Camden children and their wonderful artwork!

Art Aware: Newsletter 1999 Peace Calendar

February 27, 2015

calendar1999Art Aware is in its ninth year serving Camden children and in its fifth year as a Unit of Resources for Human Development, Inc. (RHD).
Every year, since our affiliation with RHD, we have grown and been able to make more of an impact in communities throughout the city.

The experience of putting together, printing and distributing a peace calendar of children’s artwork was the biggest challenge yet – and blessing. The calendar is a vehicle for celebrating the city youth whose daily successes get passed over in favor of sensational newspaper headlines.

Through the calendar we can show many people (10,000 in the year 2000) that city kids “shine” and are at peace in their schools, neighborhood centers and at home.

When children’s spirits are allowed to radiate, all is right with a city and a world! The problem is ignorance – pure and simple! Art is the first thing that is cut in school districts to save money and art can be the one thing that keeps urban students interested in academics! Thank goodness the Camden School District has art teachers in every school and some classroom teachers who use art across the curriculum, but still, the walls of the elementary schools are often devoid of artwork because it is not considered important by the powers that be!

Bare walls are a terrible waste of space! Through visual art, children can learn, by “osmosis,” their importance and where they fit in the scheme of things!

Thanks to a grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Art Aware was able to transform Cream Elementary School into an art museum, with the cooperation of teachers and staff! After two months of the Art Aware Program (which included trips for 350 children to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the gift of 100 large reproductions, hands-on student artwork displayed in the school and in Camden City Hall), the entire Cream School community seemed to “walk taller!”

This year also saw increased activity with the Camden Housing Authority, parochial, charter and public schools, and the NJ State Aquarium and Camden Children’s Garden.

Dedicated people – and money – are needed to change the image of a city. There are many such people in Camden but more are needed! There is a lot of money in Camden, but more is needed, especially for the non-profit, grass-roots organizations like Art Aware!

In response to one request for a corporate contribution, the manager of a store told us their leadership felt it more important to give food than art to needy people. We couldn’t believe this attitude – coming from a major art supplier at that! Why should it have to be an either/or proposition!?! It is the common perception that art is a frill.

We say art awareness is “the meat and potatoes” for empowering elementary-age kids to recognize their own worth, to want stay in school, and to become caring human beings.

We’re so grateful to our supporters for helping us emphasize the importance of art in the inner city as it raises up Camden children!

Highlights of Art Aware

February 27, 2015

aabrochure historyArt Aware gives interactive presentations to all classes in selected Camden and Philadelphia elementary schools. (1991-present)
Art Aware Camden Students’ Peace Calendars and Posters produced and distributed. (1999-Present)
Art Aware sponsors trips to art museums and theatrical productions (1999-Present)
Exhibitions of Camden students’ artwork in public places such as Camden City Hall, Pathmark Supermarket, Cousin’s Supermarket, UMDNJ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Camden Children’s Garden, schools, classrooms, etc. (1998 – present)
Romare Bearden presentations and trips to Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City for 225 students from nine schools – Anyone Can Fly Foundation grant. (2004)
Awards from The State of New Jersey, Camden County Board of Freeholders and Camden City Council for being “an advocate for the rights of children and residents of the City of Camden.” (2001)
Art Aware classes in after-school and summer recreation sites and in the Camden Children’s Garden. (1991-2001)
Art Aware Camden Students’ Peace Calendars produced and distributed – 10,000 copies each year. (1999-2001)
John Overmyer, guest cartoonist/illustrator in Art Aware classes. (1997-2001)
Trips to Philadelphia Orchestra Children’s Concerts and follow-up classes in collaboration with American Association of University Women, Camden County Branch. (2001)
Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Grant provided trips to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and follow-up Art Aware classes. (1999)
Classes in Camden County Libraries sponsored by Camden County Cultural and Heritage Commission. (1998)
Production of Art Aware video. (1998)
Award from Camden Country Board of Freeholders. (1998)
Classes at 23 Camden elementary schools for special area teachers of art, music and library. (1991-1996)
Paths/Prism Education Business Collaborative Grants for classes at Leidy, McCloskey and Fulton Elementary Schools, Philadelphia. (1993-1996)