Teaching Life Skills and Art Curation: Eliot Lable

Eliot Lable, Artist

"People in Gear" - A Collaboration with Eliot LableEliot Lable, who explores the tough subjects of violence, evil and intolerance in his art, has for the past seven years run NURTUREart‘s Education Outreach program in Brooklyn high schools that teaches underserved students in the New York area how to curate art and also how to work cooperatively with others. NURTUREart’s education program gives students the opportunity to meet and learn from professional artists and curators who expose them to contemporary art and teach them skills that can lead to future careers.

The program runs throughout the school year and culminates in an exhibition at the NURTUREart Gallery. It teaches students art handling, installation, press and marketing and preparing for an opening reception. Students are given the opportunity to visit studios of area artists, go to art galleries and art institutions, and to learn to write about and critique art.

Lable started the program in 2005 with then art teacher Sarah Hervert, who is now a middle school assistant principal. Their goal was to involve the many artists who have studios in their area, and it has grown to include multiple schools. In 2010, NURTUREart added an education coordinator to help expand the program and to develop new partnerships. The organization is a non-profit that’s received support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, NYCulture, WNYC, The Greenwall Foundation, The Leibovitz Foundation, and The New York State Council on the Arts.

According to Lable, “the best part of program is that it reinforces what students learn and teaches them how to work with each other through curating a show. It gives them a purpose and also improves their writing, editing and other skills”.

In talking about his own work as an artist and educator, Lable says, “As a complex person, there is an artist side of me and an art educator side. The art work that I create in my studio is typically connected to a subject that I find personally captivating. The challenge then is to convert this idea into a visual entity that truly represents the initial captivation. I feel that another part of me wants to share with students the immense joy of making art work.  Also a part of me believes that the process of making art can be a stepping stone for learning”.

Eliot Lable’s work, which explores the subjects of violence, evil, torture, death, intolerance, fear and aging, has been exhibited in many solo and group shows, including in Finland and Costa Rica.  He’s received numerous grants, including a Fulbright Fellowship to Finland; and two Council for Basic Education Grants, which were sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and Time Warner. His work is in the collections of the Museo de Arte Costarricense in Costa Rica, and in Helsinki, Finland, the City Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as in private and corporate collections.  A permanent sculpture, commissioned by Public Art for Public Schools (PAPS), can be seen at the entrance of the School of Cooperative Education in New York City.

Anyone interested in learning more about NURTUREart or Eliot Lable’s work is invited to contact him at info@eliotlable.com or 718.706.8622.

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2 thoughts on “Teaching Life Skills and Art Curation: Eliot Lable

  1. What great article. Eliot was my welding teacher at the “Sculpture Center” while it was still an active school with courses in all aspects of sculpture. When the Center closed and moved to Long Island City, and became a gallery only, it was a sad time for many students. There, I took both classes from Eliot, and had the rare opportunity to attend his saturday weekend one-on-one studio. It was then, that Eliot taught me all the welding techniques that I needed, as well as nurturing my creative talents and expanding upon them to be able to go out on my own and be a welding sculptor with my own studio. He was a great teacher not just in welding techniques, but in the more important questions of how the center of a sculpture relates to how the whole is seen; which includes the difficult question of the scuptures base, the part that comes from the bottom and flows upward with the content, form, and theme related to the functional necessity of it’s physi al presentation. The first theme I worked on was, in 2001-3 was representing the amazing forms that Native Americans chipped into the stone walls of the southwest, the petroglyphs. My sculptural representations of them can be seen at http://www.shamansculpt.blogspot.com. Since then, my work has moved to many other themes and forms which I am now in the process of putting in a catalogue form before marketing or selling them. Eliot has always supported and encouraged whatever I create, and his feedback has been an ongoing important part of my art career.
    When I had a dreadful medical condition that disabled me (a severe delayed reaction to an antibiotic Levaquin that ruptured my tendons and caused permanent damage and pain to deal with) Eliot always has reminded me of the joy of doing art, and that artistic expression of even the pain; helps overcome any of life’s challenges. Art can be personally healing and doing art can be a process that is the best ‘medicine” for life’s obstacles. Creation takes one’s concentration into a space that uses all of one’s senses and thought, leaving little room for attention for anything else. What Eliot helped me to develop was a way to survive difficult life of dealing with a chronic disability, and that is better than any medicine or therapy. Thank you Eliot for being there to teach me, and then to always encourage me and support my ongoing artistic life. Paul Cahan paulc111@verizon.net

  2. Great Article! I am excited to learn that this program exist for these students. I Love the “People In Gear” sculpture pictured above. I met Eliot Lable a few years back when he collaborated with oncology patients at NYPH to create a mural, it turned out beautiful. I’m happy to see that he continues to give back and sharing his gift of art.

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