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The Galleries at Moore are a dynamic site for exploring the contemporary experience through art. Our Community Collaborations reflect our commitment to including a diverse range of perspectives and an exchange of ideas shaping a larger conversation on contemporary art and art making.  


The Collaborative Lab


How can a college art gallery and a public high school work together to reimagine both contemporary art and education? This question drives The Collaborative Lab – the ongoing partnership between The Galleries at Moore and the U School High School (a competency-based public high school in North Philadelphia). Each Collaborative Lab commissions a local teaching artist to work with U School educators to create a curriculum project that elevates the voices of teen students while engaging with themes found in The Galleries’ exhibitions and programs. 

The Collaborative Lab’s goals are to:

  • Bring new voices and perspectives to the contemporary art world.  Integrate student’s work and ideas into larger conversations taking place within The Galleries at Moore and in extension the contemporary art world
  • Introduce new platforms of visibility for Philadelphia students.  Reinforce student confidence and ability to achieve by showcasing their work to different and wider audiences
  • Create dynamic 21st-century cultural producers. Develop students’ skills in research, collaboration, community engagement, digital media, media literacy and creative and critical thinking
  • Expand spheres of collaboration beyond immediate communities. Provide a space where Philadelphia artists, educators and students can work together to experiment with the ways arts can positively impact community and cultural issues.

“It sparked my interest. I always knew I wanted to be into something artistic. But, maybe this is the route to go. I wasn’t sure at first. But I really think that this is me.”
– Shawna (U School Student)

“It’s a big accomplishment. I’m so happy. I have it (the zine) sitting on the nightstand beside my bed and every time I look at it I’m like, “My name is in there” and it feels good.“
-Aloni (U School Student)

“The opportunity to collaborate with artists to do amazing projects is something I thrive on. And what it actually does is that it creates a model, because when students see that we have collaboratively designed the unit and have collaborated with the teaching artists to bring this unit into action we are fostering that same sort of collaboration amongst students and it has a rippling affect.”
-Sam Reed (U School Educator)

“Projects like this spark student's imagination, foster their creativity, build technical skills and improve self-confidence. It's important for the arts to be part of the school day, because sometimes that's the one class that motivates a particular student to come to school. This is particularly important in Philly neighborhood schools, which are by and large under-resourced and serve low-income families. Also, young people have talents and stories that come to fruition once they join these creative spaces. Without the opportunity to create art and think outside the box, students' creative gifts may be overlooked or stifled. The showcase is also critical, because it offers an opportunity for students to share their work, stand by it and be affirmed by community, which can encourage them to continue creating new work.”
-Nuala Cabral (Fall 2018 Teaching Artist)

Collaborative Lab Project: Myth Makers
Term: Fall 2018
Teaching Artist: Nuala Cabral

For this Collaborative Lab project, educator and filmmaker Nuala Cabral worked with U School students to bring their personal mythologies to life. Early in the fall of 2018, U School students participated in a school-wide humanities unit that examined world history through myths told in Northern Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Caribbean. After close reading and interpretation, students were then challenged to create their own myths that reflected the stories, ideals and cultures relevant to their own lives. Later in the semester, Cabral led two humanities classes through a specially designed curriculum that used the students’ personal myths to introduce basic principals of filmmaking like storyboarding, shot selection and dialogue writing. During the final phase of the project, Cabral worked closely with a core group of students to turn two myths into fully realized movie trailers. Students collaborated in small teams through the entire process from brainstorming, to storyboarding, to filming and post production—each taking on different roles as actors, writers, directors, camera persons and editors.

This Collaborative Lab culminated on December 6, 2018 at The Galleries with a screening of the video projects and panel discussion featuring participating students. Also released that night was this project zine that collected the best myths from the U School student body as selected by the students.

This project was conducted in conjunction with the exhibition Making Space: Leeway @ 25 an exhibition celebrating the legacy and future of The Leeway Foundation—a Philadelphia-based granting organization that supports women and trans artists and cultural producers working in communities at the intersection of art, culture and social change. Cabral is a Leeway grant recipient and was selected by U School educators from a short list developed by Leeway staff.

Collaborative Lab Project: Survival Guide to the Future
Term: Spring 2018
Teaching Artist: Li Sumpter PHD

With a background in mythology, media literacy and art education, Sumpter, employs the symbols, archetypes and aesthetics of science fiction, afro-futurism, and the apocalyptic to inform her work around emergency preparedness, food security and existential crises. Between March and May 2018 Sumpter met once a week with two humanities classes (about 60 total) of U School students in the 9th through 12th grades. Sumpter led these students through “The Survival Guide to the Future” curriculum that addressed issues around real world emergency preparedness, while examining themes in post-apocalyptic and afro-futurist media such as Octavia E. Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” and the 2018 “Black Panther” movie. Students in Sumpter’s classes also had the opportunity to meet with artist, designer, and comic book illustrator Ron Adkins to discuss his practice and learn how he uses his experiences to inform his complex futuristic worlds. Students responded to the course materials by creating content for the project zine. Such as: survivalist “go-bag” info-graphics, short fiction journal entries from teen characters living in Philadelphia circa 2048, and “Character Cards” that illustrated and described post-apocalyptic short stories. All other U School students (220) participated “The Survival Guide to the Future” curriculum just without direct contact with Sumpter.

During the second phase of the project Sumpter, worked with a small team of student editors (12) to determine which student work would be included in the final zine publication. Working in small groups the students developed their own criteria for zine inclusion and made collective decisions on the final zine design.

In addition, another independent group of students worked with U School educator Maggie Stephan to create their own unique fashion designs inspired by the “Survival Guide” curriculum. These students also meet with the head of Moore’s fashion department Nasheli Ortiz get feedback on their designs and learn more about Ortiz’s practice. These students then participated in a professional photo shoot at the U school with Moore alum and photographer Naomieh Jovin. These photographs were also featured in the final zine as well as an exhibition at Moore.

The project culminated through several events: A school wide assemble for family and friends featuring readings from the zine by students and a fashion show, a public zine-release party and fashion show at Amalagam Comic and Coffee Shop in May 2018 and a fall 2018 exhibition at Moore showcasing the zine and fashion photographs.  

Collaborative Lab Project: The Fashion + Dance Collaborative
Term: Fall 2017
Teaching Artist: Imani Shabazz

“The Fashion + Dance Collaborative” took place from October to December 2017. During this time a dancer, choreographer, and educator Imani Shabazz was selected to work with 10 U School students on a unique dance routine. After interviewing several candidates Shabazz was selected because of her experience working with high school students in both modern and contemporary dance techniques. Shabazz met with students weekly over the course of two months. At the same time another group of 18 U School students worked with Maggie Stephan (the project leader and U School educator from the Spring 2017 Collaborative Lab) on fashion designs inspired by the music and choreography of the dance group. Funds for this project were used to pay Shabazz and purchase materials and tools for the fashion designs.

The project culminated in two fashion show and performance events: a school-wide assembly at the U School and a public event as part of the BODYWORKS exhibition at The Galleries at Moore. Each event showcased the dance routine created and performed by U School students as well as the student created and molded fashion designs. In addition, works of poetry were performed by other U School students participating in a humanities section called “My Body” which was inspired by the Moore exhibition. Lastly for the Moore event, Shabazz also performed an original dance work.