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Reflecting on 100 Classes of Open Studio



Reflecting on 100 Classes of Open Studio

CMA Lead Teaching Artist Emma Waldman reflects on a year of free art classes at Pier 57.

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We have hosted over 100 Open Studio classes so far! As a community, we have created art projects using materials ranging from clay creations to puppetry, to architecture to collage, to drawing and painting. I am so fortunate to have had a hand in supporting and encouraging each student’s creative process.

Over the past year, I have proudly watched students completely develop their artistic voice and tap into their imaginations through material discovery.

My students come into class asking What is the project today? and ready to ‘shop’ for materials that will fit their artistic intent. After every class, students leave proud to share their creation with me, but also their classmates and adults, often exclaiming: Look what I made!

While clay is hands-down the most popular material for my students (and their caregivers), new materials such as wire, yarn, fabric, felt, and wax sticks really sparked their interests and challenged them to build and design projects featuring varying textures and materials.

I have watched as my students come to class to create 2D works of art, and, over time, begin to use their new technical skills and understanding of materials to build more ambitious 3D projects and sculptural works. 

The theme and the artist(s) inspiration is the same for every participant, however, each student creates a completely different work of art, which is without a doubt my absolute favorite part of the class.

I can see how students express their individuality and own voice using material and marks. Some of my favorite classes thus far have been where students use their own experiences, interests, and personalities inspired by historical and contemporary artists: My Own Universe, The Unexpected: Surrealism and the Imagination, Storied Portraits, Reimagined Cities, Family in Art, Memory, Mirror Reflection, Inkblot Paintings, and What is Outside My Window, just to name a few. 

Lastly, these Open Studio classes have inspired and promoted the importance of art and the creative process for young children, but also the importance of community, collaboration, and having fun. Because of the format, my students, and their adults, are able to share and develop ideas with one another as well as make new friends in the process.

I want to thank my Open Studio community for supporting each class and sharing your excitement and interest with others. Each and every one of you continues to inspire me as an artist and an educator!

—Emma Waldman

CMA Lead Artist Instructor



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