IPS George Julian

Semester-long project between an Indianapolis Public (IPS) school and a professional artist that results in an art installation that transforms a commonly used area of the school, and through work with the artist and the artwork, transforms the students’ learning experience. The project is based on Harvard’s Project Zero and uses professional artists to bring museum-quality artwork to the school.

About the Program

The “third space” project enhances the school environment and elevates the learning experience by showcasing large-scale art installation from a professional local artist. Art is integrated into the curriculum and the physical space of a school. 

About the School

IPS George W. Julian School 57 values and celebrates diversity and creativity. They are committed to creating a peaceful environment where everyone is treated with respect.

About the Artist

Rebecca Robinson, the professional artist selected for George Julian IPS School 57, is an award-winning mixed media artist who is an Indianapolis native who studied at the Historically Black College, North Carolina Central University.

About the Program

See. Think. Wonder.

The “third space” project enhances the school environment and elevates the learning experience by showcasing an art installation from a professional local artist. Art is integrated into the curriculum and the physical space of a school. 

Lasting for an entire semester, the project incorporates an approach to teaching that helps to improve learning and develop a student’s thinking skills. Based on Harvard’s Project Zero, students and viewers are encouraged to reimagine school environments as dynamic learning spaces and the role of the arts within them – to see, to think, and to wonder.

Students engage in collaborative sessions so that each work of art emerges as a combination of both a student’s thoughts, experiences, and ideas and the artist’s fine art practice.

This particular project combined elements of Arts for Learning’s Fresh StART program. One primary objective of Fresh StART is to strengthen a community’s sense of pride by stabilizing and improving an underused area, within or around the school, through the installation of a permanent, public work of art inspired by ideas generated by students.

Logo for Indianapolis Public Schools

Educational Basis for third space

In a third space program, students experience their school, as education philosopher Maxine Greene explains, “as if things could be otherwise.” View a 1998 presentation about the importance of imagination by Maxine Greene on YouTube.

Greene advocates for positioning students as explorers who use their imaginations to envision new ideas and patterns emerging from the world around them (Releasing the Imagination: Essays on Education, Art, and Social Change (1995)). They gradually align their natural curiosity with their interests.

According to her research and that of numerous other scholars, such as Christopher Garrett and Alice Pennisi, students not only thrive in environments that promote student-centered inquiry and expression through the arts, they also retain more information and are more motivated to continue learning.

The project also uses thinking routines from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education called Project Zero. The thinking routine for third space uses “see, think, and wonder” to develop student observation and describing skills for creative and critical thinking. 

Collaborative Student Sessions

Session 1

In session 1 with students, Arts for Learning team members and the project artist engaged students in learning what they THINK, FEEL, and CARE about in their school community. Students overwhelmingly said they cared about their community, peers, inclusivity, and connection.

“School is my home away from home.”

– A student at George Julian School 57

Session 2

Session 2 was led primarily by Rebecca Robinson, the project artist. She engaged in conversation with students based upon what the students THINK, FEEL, and CARE about in Session 1. The resulting conversation included topics about community, working together, and belonging. The artist shared her work history and conceptual interests with the students.

The artist also led students in an exercise based upon her work, encouraging them to use colored pencils to create a visual representation of their shared ideas about unity, empathy, friendship, and cooperation. This activity included developing compositions using repeated shapes and preferred colors.

“We are all connected”

– A student at George Julian School 57

The Role of the Artist

Following the collaborative sessions with students, the artist creates proposals for both a temporary installation (third space) and for a permanent artwork to be gifted to the school as a legacy to the project (Art for Learning’s Fresh stART program).

The artist’s conceptual drive for these works is derived from the intersection of the artist’s own fine art practice and history, and the students’ thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

“My goal was to ensure that the artwork resonates authentically with the children and the wider community. This installation serves as a catalyst for dialogue, understanding, reflection, and a deeper appreciation of the essential elements that contribute to children’s well-being, especially the arts. I aspire to actively contribute to this transformative process and to consistently produce artwork that underscores the beauty inherent in transitions, change, growth, empowerment, reflection, self-expression, self-identity, and self-love.
“Regardless of social circumstances or outward influences, I firmly believe that every child deserves the opportunity to live boldly and become the best version of themselves. This work encourages children to work collectively while interacting with one another and learning the importance of community, culture, and creativity.”

-Artist Rebecca Robinson

The Art Exhibition

The art installation remains visible for a week or two while the permanent legacy piece remains with the school.

During the school day, students encounter and interact with the art.

Arts Integration Workshop for the School’s Teachers

Teaching with original works of art can be a rewarding way of engaging in conversation about any topic; however, the challenge of such discussions can feel intimidating, and planning can seem overwhelming in an already busy schedule. In this workshop, select teachers collaborate with a curriculum specialist from Arts for Learning to integrate the third space works of art into lessons they already have planned.

Art Exhibition Open House

George Julian School 57 hosted an open house for students, their families, and community partners.

16 Questions to Ask Yourself When Viewing the art installation

We encourage the viewer to use these questions to encourage students to make careful observations, thoughtful interpretations, explore curiosity, and inquire more deeply.

What do you see? ¿Que ves?

What is going on in this artwork? ¿Qué está pasando en esta obra de arte?

What do you think? ¿Qué piensas?

What do you see that makes you say that? ¿Qué ves que te hace decir eso?

What do you wonder? ¿Qué te preguntas?

What is mysterious about this artwork? ¿Qué tiene de misterioso esta obra de arte?

What materials did the artist use to make this artwork? ¿Qué materiales utilizó el artista para hacer esta obra de arte?

What kind of work would you make with these materials? ¿Qué tipo de trabajo harías con estos materiales?

What story can you tell about this artwork? ¿Qué historia puedes contar sobre esta obra de arte?

If this artwork were music, what would it sound like? Si esta obra de arte fuera música, ¿cómo sonaría?

What title did the artist give this artwork? What title would you give it? ¿Qué título le dio el artista a esta obra de arte? ¿Qué título le darías?

Put your body into a pose like some element of this artwork. How does it feel to be in that position? Pon tu cuerpo en una pose como un elemento de esta obra de arte. ¿Cómo se siente estar en esa posición?

What do you want to remember about this artwork? ¿Qué quieres recordar sobre esta obra de arte?

If this artwork could talk, what do you think it would say? Si esta obra de arte pudiera hablar, ¿qué crees que diría?

If you could ask this artwork a question, which question would you choose? How do you think this artwork would answer? Si pudieras hacerle una pregunta a esta obra de arte, ¿qué pregunta elegirías? ¿Cómo crees que respondería esta obra de arte?

How does this artwork make you feel? ¿Cómo te hace sentir esta obra de arte?

George Julian IPS School 57

George W. Julian School 57 values and celebrates diversity and creativity. They are committed to creating a peaceful environment where everyone is treated with respect. Their dedication to fostering a racially and culturally diverse community of students, parents, and staff lies at the core of their educational mission. They aim to empower each student, helping them reach their full academic, emotional, and physical potential.

black and white photograph of a 3-story brick and stone building with arched doorways

About the Artist

Award-winning mixed media artist Rebecca Robinson creates impactful artwork, specifically with concrete and tar. Her strategic use of texture and contrast creates various subjects and themes that continue to evoke emotion and spark dialogue while enriching the community and contributing to the culture.

Rebecca is an Indianapolis native and studied Art/Visual Communications at the Historically Black College North Carolina Central University. Rebecca’s background includes art history, photography, film, fashion, and creative marketing/branding. She is also a self-published author of the inspirational book for creatives titled “Arts Honor”.

Rebecca’s artwork has been featured in dozens of media outlets including; Indianapolis Business Journal Podcast, NPR NEWS, PBS, WFYI,  NUVO, Pattern Magazine, Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis Recorder, WTHR 13, WISH-TV 8. RTV 6, FOX 59, Creative Mornings Indianapolis, Indianapolis Monthly Magazine, Carmel Magazine, The Arts Council of Indianapolis, and The National Endowment Of The Arts. 

In 2018, Rebecca co-produced the award-winning documentary film “The Color of Medicine”: The Story Of Homer G. Phillips Hospital as a tribute to her father and grandfather’s legacy in the medical field.  Rebecca is also a proud member of The Kurt Vonnegut Museum Planning Committee, The Indianapolis Black Documentary Film Festival Advisory Committee, The Art Center Of Indianapolis Board Of Directors, The Indianapolis Cabaret Board of Directors, and the African American History Committee Advisory Board for the Indianapolis Public Library. 

Rebecca is also a member of the art collectives WE ARE INDY ARTS, The EIGHTEEN, and Penrod Circle City Creatives/Newfields. Rebecca currently has an art residency at The Harrison Center Indianapolis. To learn more, visit www.ArtistRebeccaRobinson.com

Explore More

Skip Footer