ECC x AAI: Nat Ward

Presented in collaboration with Congregation Beth Elohim Early Childhood Center

Utilizing instant film cameras and monochrome film, artist and photographer Nat Ward encouraged students to engage in a closer kind of looking at the world around them. With the supervision and support of ECC Team Members, Ward led a photographic exploration of the block where the school is located.

Students led their own explorations, taking 5-10 photographs of the people, places, and things they noted as they moved around the block. Back in the classroom, everyone looked at the photographs and each student shared the meaning of their images with the artist. Imagination was encouraged in this reflection so that students could begin to talk about the photographed world that they each created. The discussion was guided by questions including “what do you see?”, “what do you think might be happening?”, and “why is this important to you?”

As part of Artists Alliance Inc’s Public Works program, ECC x AAI is a series of collaborative projects initiated by Artists Alliance Inc in partnership with Congregation Beth Elohim Early Childhood Center. Designed and led by guest artists, in collaboration with ECC educator and artist Tom Pnini, students work in the classroom on pre-designed projects that both parallel the school’s current art curriculum and extend from the individual artist’s existing practice. Collectively, the projects urge students to experience art-making through unexpected visual relationships, using professional artists’ practices as a means to create engaging and interactive learning activities.

As accomplished by ECC’s impressive programming, ECC x AAI aims to amplify the school’s ongoing success in providing children with a generative and hands-on approach to education. This project series extends ECC’s mission by designing classes that create new opportunities for students to develop cognitive skills within the framework of peer collaboration, discovery, imaginative sharing and the revelation of hidden narratives. But, perhaps most importantly, the projects are intended to be playful.

Nat Ward’s photographs and writing focus on the psychological implications of escapism and alienation in the American Landscape while variously exploring the subtleties of defeat, resignation, and themes of socio-political self-preservation. His work has recently been exhibited at the Ford Foundation Live Gallery, New York, NY 2017-18, Nathalie Karg Gallery, New York, NY 2017, in two exhibitions organized by Phong Bui & Rail Curatorial Projects, Jersey City, NJ 2017-18 and Brooklyn 2013-14, and at The Jewish Museum, New York, NY 2015. Recent residencies and fellowships include The Sharpe-Wallentas Studio Program 2015-16 and the Wagon Station Encampment at AZ West 2012. Ward received an M.F.A. from Columbia University School of the Arts.