Few people spend enough time with works of art to be able to use them as tools of self-discovery. Yet that is exactly what the students, drawn from six local high schools, did during daily visits to the Walker between December and March. Form the first day, when each student spent 20 minutes in the museum’s storage area looking at a work of art he or she had not seen before, until the final week, when they made presentations in the galleries, the students enjoyed an unprecedented opportunity to explore, question, and challenge the art of our time and their own attitudes toward this art. While the Listening Project class was structured as an intellectual and emotional journey for the students, the installation and video piece served as a way to facilitate visitors journeys through the Walker galleries.
During the four-month course, the students studied the media arts, art history, museums, and communication skills. They interviewed staff members from every department, did research in the library, made their own art, met with artists, and experimented with ways of communicating with museum visitors.
“Throughout, the students made audio and videotapes and kept journals to record their ideas and reactions to the range of their experiences: these serve as the raw material for The Listening Project installation. De Michiel took this material and created a film demonstrating the responses that contemporary art can produce in adolescents. Organized to parallel the structure of the class, the installation breaks the students’ explorations into five categories: Questioning, Listening, Responding, Challenging and Dreaming. Rather than provide specific information about a group of artworks, the installation suggests ways of looking at and “listening to” those works.” –David Henry, Walker Art Center (1994)
Producer/director Helen DeMichiel
A Thirty Leaves Production