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Art and Physics at the Lux

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Rick Stitch, currently artist in residence at the Lux Institute in Encinitas, California, meets frequently with kids and gladly explains his "paintings of figures reflected in water, ranging from quite expressive gestures of the figure on the surface to very abstract shapes."

Recently one sixth grader asked: "You paint the water, but water moves so how do you do that... the water keeps changing, moving." Curious, Rick commented that this was a very thoughtful question and asked "what do you want to be when you are older?" "A physicist," she said.

Since it opened its doors to the public in November 2007, the Lux Art Institute is redefining the museum experience with its unique artist-in-residence program and dedication to bringing the benefits of the arts to schools in the region.

According to KPBS-TV in San Diego, "at Lux, you don't just see finished works of art; you see the artistic process firsthand, engaging with internationally recognized artists in a working studio environment."

Lux has served nearly 1,000 kids from nearby Vista Academy. Each week, participating in something called the Valise projects, Lux artists/teachers visit all second, fourth and sixth grade students to give weekly presentations which "tie into their regular curriculum in science, language arts, and social studies."

"Inspired by Marcel Duchamp, who carried miniatures of his work inside a suitcase, (or valise) Lux commissions portable works of art that double as powerful interdisciplinary teaching tools. The valises travel to hundreds of classrooms around San Diego County each year, giving students a rare up-close and hands-on experience with museum-quality art." A Lux teacher will bring a valise to the classroom and lead a lively two-hour presentation in which all the students take part.

Lux sees its mission, primarily, to "support artists in the development of new projects through a residency program, and share their discoveries with scholars, art patrons and a regional and national audience," and to "educate and engage the community to foster an appreciation of the living artist and creative process."

Reesey Shaw, founding Director of Lux, says, "We now have a dozen beautifully crafted cases of all variety [antique violin, steamer trunk, 1940's briefcase, bronze circus wagon, etc] and that kids and audiences everywhere immediately recognize as Art ... and lesson plans that coordinate with California State Standards." Without a doubt, as their flyer states, "The Valise Project represents a powerful interdisciplinary learning opportunity."

Their goal is for everyone in the world not only to "see art," but also to "see art happen." For young people, it represents another example where artists and teachers are collaborating to bring art to the schools, and in the process, nurture a new generation of people with the creative skills in most demand in the new economy.