In 2016 Laurie Rich, then Executive Director of the Brower Center, attended the annual art exhibition for Kimberley D’Adamo’s Advanced Art Classes at Berkeley High School. Recognizing that many of the talented artists were addressing environmental issues, she approached Kimberley about the idea of a pop up show at the Brower Center to showcase youth voices. They both realized the potential of having youth artists represented in a professional gallery setting and decided to move forward with something a bit ‘outside’ of the Brower Center’s standard exhibition protocol.
The pop-up was a great success, deeply impacting both viewers and student artists. Both Laurie and Kimberley knew it could grow, so they sought funding in order to establish Art/Act: Youth as an annual youth exhibition with its first full installation in 2017. After working solely with only Kimberley’s classes, the exhibition was expanded in 2019 to include other art classes at Berkeley High and in 2020 to incorporate classes from Richmond High and Skyline High in Oakland. It now showcases over 100 youth artworks each year.
During the pandemic, with most venues and galleries shuttered, Laurie was approached by a potential funder to dream BIG about establishing a new program. Kimberley had now moved to Nebraska to establish an arts doctorate program. She and Laurie put their heads together to create Art/Act: Educate aimed at assisting educators—across various regions—with arts-based research curriculum to explore critical environmental issues. Although the Art/Act: Educate fellowship concluded in June of 2023, the Art/Act: Youth exhibition continues to be held annually at the Brower Center.
The ART/ACT: Educate Teacher Fellowship (2017- 2023) supported high school teachers from across the country in designing curriculum exploring climate conversations, change making, and art. Begun in 2017, through a partnership between the David Brower Center and Berkeley High School, the program first focused on exhibiting young artists in an annual ART/ACT: Youth exhibition. The work grew to include multiple San Francisco Bay Area schools, and beginning in 2022, in partnership with University of Nebraska, Lincoln, a cross-country teacher exchange program between Skyline High School in Oakland, California and North Platte High School in North Platte, Nebraska. Four teachers from each school came together to create curriculum and project-based learning opportunities around a common theme. Student work was displayed at a formal exhibition at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, California.
The 2022- 2023 Art/Act: Educate Teacher Fellowship
2022-2023 ART/ACT: Fellowship Participants