Veronica and I (circled in red) at AAS '09
Veronica and I are returning as Artist/Mentors to Art All State 2013 (26th edition), this is Veronica's third or fourth go round and my ninth year in a row.

Essentially Art All State is a weekend long art making project that goes on at the Worcester Art Museum around Memorial Day each year-- attendees are High School Junior's from all over the state who are nominated by their art teachers and go through a pretty intensive interview process where they are selected to be a participant.

The 140+ students are divided into 8 groups teamed each led by a pair of working artist professionals.  Veronica and I have never been teamed up but this is my third pairing with my old buddy Tom Grady, so I'm excited to do it.  The program takes place from 9am Friday to 11pm and then resumes on Saturday at 830am and goes until 5pm-- the students and artists are housed at Clark University overnight (Veronica, Tom, Jamie Buckmaster and I are local so we go home).

The student groups are assigned a studio in the museum and given three supplies-- two of which the artists chose and one of which is a "surprise" material which the group then must turn into an installation to be displayed from 3-4pm on Saturday before the entire thing is taken down and destroyed.  It teaches these young artists a few essential skills:

1. How to work together as a large group.
2. How to make art using materials you might otherwise just throw away.   This year Tom and I chose plain xerox paper and pins-- many of the students arriving expect to work with paint or pencils and that is absolutely not the case.
3. For many of them this is their first major exposure to an art museum.  Part of the process is for the Artist Mentors to choose artwork in the galleries to lead as inspiration in the installation, and by doing so we get them to REALLY look at the collection.   I'm happy to report that during "free time" late Friday night the group usually asks to go back into the museum to look around.
4. For many of them this is their first exposure to an installation, which simply put, is the transformation of an entire room into a piece of art.
5. Exposure to working professional artists who are doing what many of them want to do- and it helps to see how we got where we did.

The variety of artist mentors is varied, this year there are a few illustrators, more than one comic book artist, several painters, graphic designers, several installation artists, craftsman, jewelry makers and photographers.   It's a nice mix so that students get a wide range of interest.

It's a labor intense and mentally exhausting weekend, and each year I vow it will be my last one, but I'm back the next.  With Tom I've never had anything but a mellow friendly experience-- and for that I am extremely grateful.

Stop by Saturday from 3-4pm to check out the exhibits and see what the art teams have created.