Madison Square Park Conservancy is partnering with Studio Institute of Studio in a School, New York, to create an original curriculum inspired by Martin Puryear: Liberty/Libertà, on view at the United States Pavilion during the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Tom Cahill, president of Studio Institute, has conceived the outreach program and planned it in collaboration with Istituto Provinciale per l’Infanzia Santa Maria della Pietà in Italy. The program is designed to engage opportunity youth affiliated with La Pietà’s locations in Venice and San Donà di Piave.

Established in 1977 by the American philanthropist, arts patron, and education and social-justice advocate Agnes Gund, Studio in a School is a visual arts organization that has provided artist-taught programs to more than one million students in New York City’s public schools. The Studio Institute was launched in 2016 to share Studio in a School’s program models—including its visual arts curricula, professional-development models, and research grants—with arts and educational communities nationwide. A key part of the Studio Institute is its Arts Intern Program, which provides opportunities for college undergraduates, in particular candidates with demonstrated financial need and from diverse backgrounds, to work at museums and cultural institutions nationwide.

In conjunction with Martin Puryear: Liberty/Libertà, eight Studio Institute Arts Interns will travel to Venice this summer for two six-week sessions to connect with youth affiliated with La Pietà in Venice and in San Donà di Piave. The interns are art and art history students, many of whom have previously participated and excelled in the Arts Intern Program and are studying Italian to support their outreach in Venice. They will implement the Studio Institute’s curriculum through their work as gallery liaisons in the U.S. Pavilion, engaging visitors with themes in Puryear’s work, and through weekly sessions with the Italian youth on site at the Pavilion. The interns will also develop regular blog posts on Puryear’s work, informed by their experiences over the six-week sessions.

Adopting a curriculum developed for the Biennale, the interns will work as teachers with La Pietà’s youth, supporting a broader understanding of Puryear’s visual vocabulary and key elements in his work so that the youth can respond to it with their own creations. As with all Studio in a School programs, the curriculum entails looking at, analyzing, and creating art and encourages open-ended responses and multiple interpretations of Puryear’s work. Building on the themes explored in Martin Puryear: Liberty/Libertà, the interns will incorporate tie-in lessons on the basic freedoms provided by a civil society.

The Studio Institute’s program enhances La Pietà’s ongoing arts curricula and programming by providing faculty with new insights, experience, and professional development in inquiry-based art instruction. The program is designed to support ongoing outreach to young people in their residential communities by empowering La Pietà’s faculty to continue this work beyond the program, serving to increase understanding of art both as an individual activity and as a collective experience.

For more information on Studio Institute, please visit studioinstitute.org.