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Art museum unveils new exhibit curated by 5th grader and PSU professor

By Chandler Watkins

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    PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) — Thursday evening, the King School Museum of Contemporary Art unveiled its latest exhibit, “Welcome to My Happy Place”, curated by Rose Akil, one of the school’s 5th-grade students, and Dr. Kiera Hill, a PSU School of Art + Design professor.

“We really just wanted to kind of do our best to put the feeling you get when you’re in the school, in that space, in here,” said Dr. Hill. “You can see there are so many different projects around. There’s a sign that says ‘Welcome to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Elementary School’, which I think in a lot of way situates this exhibit as one that’s not only holistic, but very community oriented as well.”

The exhibit showcases their favorite pieces from the King School Museum of Contemporary Art, also known as KSMoCA, which connects students with artists through workshops, exhibitions, lectures and more. Students, like Rose, are able to learn and participate in a variety of ways, such as creating an exhibit like the one now on display at PSU.

An opening reception was held Thursday evening, where Rose was able to see the exhibit for the first time.

When we first walked in, I was like this is what it looks like?” said Rose. “It looks so beautiful. Now that I’m actually here, it feels great to talk about what I’ve been doing. I want to show everything that me and Kiki worked hard on.”

The exhibit will be open at PSU’s Littman Gallery through March 17.

“I want people to know that KSMoCA, at the end of the day, is really about care and access,” said Dr. Hill. “I think the vision of Lisa Jarrett and Harrell Fletcher, who are professors at the School of Art & Design and founders of KSMoCA, was really making aspects of the art world that would be esoteric, even for adult people, accessible to children. The possibilities that opens up when you’re able to see yourself, see your perspective, see your desires reflected through art in a space you can call your own, which is essentially their school. What I want people to take away from this is that there is a lot of love and care that goes into this program. Students really respond well. I have never, ever come across a student who, at only 8-years-old, can say ‘oh I want to be a documentarian’ and can say it confidently because they’ve actually worked with documentarians. ‘I want to be a curator’, ‘I want to be an artist’. When I was growing up no one thought like that. The fact that it can be a possibility at such a young age, I think that’s priceless and something every child deserves to be able to experience.”

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