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Education Programs

Spring Student Programs!

Spring Student Programs!

Currently on display in the Stasney Center for Education are forty artworks by young artists from the surrounding area. The artists are local 7th-12th graders and are all students who benefit from the OJAC's monthly in-school program, Art-to-Go. In January, one of our staff members and ATG instructors presented these students with five pieces by known artists in the OJAC collection. In cooperation with our theme "Talking Back," each student chose one of the five collection pieces as inspiration and responded by creating their own unique artwork. The collection pieces serve as a "jumping off point" for the students as they find their own voice or show us their own take on the subject matter, technique, or style of the original. As a part of the learning experience and honing their own artistic voice, students are also asked to write an artist statement with their work. 

We call it a Student Art Show not only for the artist participants but also for its jurors. The OJAC is proud of our Junior Docent corps, 7th-12th grades students who volunteer or work for the Education Department. The annual student art show is one of the JuDos' biggest projects during the school year. In the week before the show opens, JuDos volunteer their time and efforts to judge hundreds of submissions and carefully curate a show of artworks that speak to the theme and meet quality standards of creativity and craftsmanship. At the opening reception (held Saturday, March 10th) our JuDos present the winning students with certificates and prizes for Honorable Mention, Best in Category, and Best in Show.

On Saturday April 14th, JuDos will be hosting International Slow Art Day at the OJAC. Each of them are already hard at work to prepare a small gallery talk and activity for museum guests. Their research and presentation will be based on their favorite piece from our current exhibitions. In the coming weeks students will contact contemporary artists and research the history and style of their piece to give visitors a fresh look at their chosen piece and facilitate a more interactive museum experience. 

All in all, we're proud of the young artists and art appreciators in our area. It's deep within our mission at the OJAC that art is for all and we work hard to make it so. Be sure to come by and check out the Student Art Show before it goes off display at the end of March and mark your calendars to show your support for our students on International Slow Art Day, Saturday, April 14th.

37 Years of Art for All

37 Years of Art for All

Happy Birthday OJAC! This week we celebrate 37 years of art for all

OJAC began in December of 1980 when cousins and OJAC co-founders Reilly Nail and Bill Bomar opened the museum with four small galleries in the original Shackelford County jail building. In 37 years, the museum has expanded from four small galleries into 17,000 square feet of gallery, education, archive and research space that offers diverse and innovative exhibitions and education programming that serves a core audience of 25 rural counties. OJAC is also part of a select group of museums accredited with the American Alliance of Museums. 

Since the beginning, the philosophy of the OJAC has been to offer engaging exhibitions and education programs free to the public, at no cost to visitors.  

Thank you to our OJAC Board and Docents, volunteers, donors, and members that continue to make our vision of art for all that is free for all possible!


Earth Day at the OJAC

Earth Day at the OJAC

On Saturday, April 22nd, the OJAC hosted a Family Festival in celebration of Earth Day! Families of all shapes and sizes from the surrounding area made the trek to Albany to participate in arts, crafts, and activities that included important Earth Day topics. We created a cheerful spring mural out of our recycling, made bird feeders, and even got our hands a little dirty planting in an effort to learn about taking better care of our planet.

The truth is, after all the planning and preparation, Family Festivals are as much fun for the museum staff and volunteers as they are for those who attend. We love introducing local students and people of all ages to new cultures, art-forms, and social awareness topics in an exciting, hands-on way. Seeing our student's faces light up when they try or learn something new reminds why we're here and brings joy to even the most mundane tasks. In the weeks leading up to a Family Festival, flyers are sent out to all our participating Art-to-Go students from Region 14 and personal invitations are extended by our instructors in every classroom they visit. As a result, families come from miles around to experience the crafts, music, games, and refreshments inspired by a culture or topic represented in the museum collection.

We look forward to these quarterly opportunities to make fun and creative connections with visitors of all generations from our community. Bring the whole family and join us for our next Family Festival this Fall. 

- Molly Gore Merck

Education Coordinator

Talking Back- Student Art Show 2017

Talking Back- Student Art Show 2017

Since 2008, the museum has celebrated Youth Art Month by hosting a Student Art Competition for ages 13-18. This competition, named “Talking Back” provides local teens the opportunity to both explore the OJAC collection of art and artifacts and create their own work in response.

In January, OJAC educators visit Junior and Senior High Schools throughout Region 14 and present five artists from the museum collection. Students explore the work of each artist, focusing on the process as well as themes/ideas behind each piece.  Next, they are challenged to “Talk Back” with a response piece which communicates with the original.

The OJAC Student Art show is also unique as it is both created AND juried by teens. Each Spring, the museum’s Junior Docent Corps jury and curate the Show, as well as organize for prizes and an Exhibit Opening Reception. With help from Education Department Staff, the Junior Docents consider various criteria as they critique each piece. This is one of the most important experiences in our Junior Docent program, as the students gain valuable Visual and Critical Thinking Skills! They choose one winner for each response category and present certificates and prizes that they have secured from local businesses.

Needless to say, March is a very special time at the OJAC. Our Stasney Center for Education is a popular place for families and the museum staff is delighted to view the collection through the eyes of our youngest visitors

Take a sneak peak at the five collection pieces (below) that were chosen for the program this Spring, then visit us during the month of March to view the show! 

This month in Art-To-Go..

This month in Art-To-Go..

Art-To-Go is the museum's free, school outreach program- available to any campus K-12 within an hours-drive of the OJAC. Museum Educators visit each participating campus once a month and present a different social or cultural awareness issue through the lens of the museum collection. 

At each 45 minute session, students enjoy books and videos, explore artifacts from the museum, and participate in a short studio activity. 

During the month of February, students throughout Region 14 explored African Heritage- investigating various cultures in Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast. 

PK-1st Grade students listened to Anansi the Spider, a children's folktale from Ghana. After viewing the Adinkra symbols of the Ashanti people they filled Anansi's web with patterns and symbols of their own.

2-3rd Graders created stamps of Adinkra symbols and printed their own Achi Gameboards (a children's game from Ghana- similar to tic-tac-toe). They had a blast competing against one another using these personalized game-boards!

4-5th Grade investigated the Korhogo Cloth of the Senufo culture in the Ivory Coast. They filled a Ndebele ('nature' spirit') with Senufo symbolism, then added waves of energy with color. 

6-8th Grades students tried their hand at Mudcloth Designs from Mali. They enjoyed the texture of the "mudpaint" and the geometric patterns.

9-12th Grade explored Gris Gris Bags from Nigeria. In addition to decorating their bags with Nigerian symbols, beads and feathers, they filled this 'good-luck charm' with their favorite words of encouragement. 


Graduating Intern Reflects on her Time at The OJAC

Graduating Intern Reflects on her Time at The OJAC

Being a Junior Docent has played an important role in my life.

I signed up to be a junior docent my seventh grade year. I heard of the program through my older brother who was also a junior docent. I saw how he enjoyed his time at the Old Jail and decided I would give it a shot. I loved art class and I loved making art and hoped that the Junior Docent Program would bring me the same creative joy.  Being an awkward 12 year old, I was shy, quiet, and didn’t like to step outside of my comfort zone. Over the years, working with the junior docents has brought me out of my shell and taught me to be more social. I have loved getting to work all of the family festivals and summer art camps. When I was asked to be a high school intern my sophomore year, I was so excited. I get to work at the Old Jail every week and I honestly enjoy every minute of it. I love getting to make samples for Art-to-go and Distance Learning and volunteering at the family festivals. It’s heart warming to watch other children make art and enjoy it as much as I do. Being a part of junior docents has had a big role in my becoming who I am today. I keep telling Erin I’m going to drive back and forth from San Angelo State so I can keep working here while I’m in college. 

I have enjoyed my time here at the Old Jail Art Center and I highly recommend joining the Junior Docents program to any student interested in art.


Savannah Perez
2016 Graduate of Albany High School