To Webster University freshman Shelby Morgan, art is a universal language that can reach all, regardless of any language boundaries.
“We don’t all speak the same language but we can all get a feeling from an image we see,” said Morgan. “Art lets us communicate in a way that words can’t.”
Morgan grew up around art, and it was always a large part of her life. She said she never thought she would get the opportunity to curate a museum exhibit – especially with one of her closest friends, Webster University freshman Skylar Thone.
“It’s nice to collaborate on, especially an exhibition like that, in my eyes,” Thone said.
The Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis (CAM) allowed them to participate in the Teen Museum Studies program over the summer. This program allows high school students to work together and curate an exhibit that would be on the second floor of the museum.
This program lasted six weeks from mid June to mid July. Students met twice a week for four hours during this time. Curating the museum for these students entailed picking an artist, community outreach, teamwork, and idea sharing.
The process to choose an artist was a democratic one. They voted on their favorite artists as a group then voted again once the selection was reduced through process of elimination.
“It was really cool because we created this final project that has all of our ideas in it,” Thone said.
The exhibit they created featured the artist Lizzie Martinez. Martinez is a St. Louis native whose art generally focuses on one subject. For the exhibit her art centered around a femme fatale version of Little Red Riding Hood where the grandmother and Little Red end up killing the wolf.
After they had chosen Martinez as the exhibition artist they made a visit to their studio to see where her art is created.
“Her studio was in her apartment so it wasn’t necessarily like a house visit, her studio happened to be there. We met her and then she would come to the museum to work with us,” said Morgan.
CAM focuses on bringing in artists based in St. Louis. They do this to create a sense of community in the St. Louis area.
Before the beginning of every session, they would all sit down and have lunch together. This time allowed participants to get to know each other as more than just coworkers.
“Working together as a team and compromising and learning to listen to others was something I feel like me and everybody else got better at,” Morgan said.
Conversation is not the only thing that happens when art is the the topic. It is also a way to learn from other individuals, whether that is through looking at art someone created or talking about a piece of art with a new friend.
“[Morgan’s] art style when she’s drawing is more impressionism type stuff. It’s more loose while mine is really uniform so it’s kind of opened my eyes towards that sense a little bit,” said Thone.
Morgan and Thone have know each other since their freshman year of high school, but did not become close until they related through art. The conversation of art is what made them grow from acquaintances to close friends and now roommates.
“We were able to relate about art so that’s what we would talk about in class was art,” said Morgan. “We were always acquaintances, but it is what made us move past acquaintances and become really close friends.”
Morgan believes art can be interpreted in many different ways, but that some boundaries do exist.
“The loose boundaries are where the conversation happens is in those fluid boundaries that art has,” Morgan said.