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The International Museum of Art & Science (IMAS) participated in the “National Youth Summit on Gender Equity,” an online outreach program organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in partnership with Smithsonian Affiliations, from September 21 through October 12. Designed for middle and high school students across the country, this year’s topic allowed youth to examine gender equity and efforts to fight against gender bias.
IMAS was one of twelve Smithsonian Affiliate organizations nationally selected to host a regional youth summit with local scholars and youth. The Smithsonian Affiliate museums hosted virtual viewing parties and added their own programming for students in their local communities. The regional summit hosted by IMAS included live webinars that enabled local teens from Brownsville ISD and IDEA Public Schools to join in the conversation. Participating teachers Fatima Lai, AP Visual Arts Instructor at Rivera High School in Brownsville, and Cristina Correa, AP Art Teacher at IDEA College Preparatory San Juan, selected art students to take part in the regional summit. The IMAS used learning resources and videos provided free to all participating educators to guide the live virtual discussion.
Anchored by a series of diverse historical narratives addressing the fight for gender equity, the 2021 National Youth Summit examined how the construction of gender and gendered expectations have impacted young people across time and space and how this has created deep-seated biases and inequities. The Summit explored gender equity and gender bias through the lenses of sports, politics, fashion, art, and identity and examined ways this is complicated by race, ethnicity, and class. Guided by history and artmaking, the Summit provided a platform for teens nationwide to grapple with the enduring question ‘what will the future of gender equity look like?’
The National Youth Summit featured talks and discussions with scholars, historians and activists. Beginning with an introduction by Anthea M. Hartig, the Elizabeth MacMillan Director of the National Museum of American History, the schedule also included panel discussions and workshops featuring notable speakers including professional skateboarders Cindy Whitehead and Judi Oyama, Minnijean Brown-Trickey, Professor of History and African American Studies at Georgetown University Marcia Chatelain, and Smithsonian Curator Katherine Ott.
Some 4,000 students participated in virtual discussions facilitated by their educators, the Smithsonian and Smithsonian Affiliate museums nationwide. The IMAS provided participating students with a summit kit to enrich their experience, which included printed guides, a sketchbook, and art materials to create a zine. During the live webinar with IMAS staff, students considered the experiences shared in provided readings and featured talks, and issues addressed during panel discussions.
“The annual Summit is a wonderful opportunity for the IMAS to engage local students in a discussion being held nationally,” shares Claudia Martinez Gray, director of education for IMAS. “This was a memorable experience for me and having the students share meaningful reflections about gender equity made me realize the lack of this sort of scholarship when I was a teen. The Summit was an opportunity for students to realize ways they can be advocates for a more equitable future.”
Many students used drawing to express their reflections on gender inequity, which was encouraged by teachers and IMAS staff. Students were able to anonymously share their drawings or written reflections in a Padlet, where they were also able to see reflections from other teens participating across the United States. After the summit, students were encouraged to create a zine, a handmade booklet that can be disseminated so others can learn about the event’s topics.
Additionally, students were able to learn about the UTRGV Center for Latin American Arts through a brief talk by scholar Dr. Katherine McAllen. Next summer, these students will exhibit their artwork at the IMAS as an extension of the Summit and the upcoming exhibition Uncovered Spaces, organized by Dr. Katherine McAllen, Director of the UTRGV Center for Latin American Arts and Assistant Professor of Art History, UTRGV College of Art. Dr. McAllen provided students with an exclusive preview of the women and LGBTQIA+ artists featured in exhibition opening in March of 2022. These artists are role models for creating artwork that addresses gender and identity.
The National Youth Summit series was designed by the National Museum of American History to provide students with an opportunity to share their views and debate issues as part of a program that aligns with the National History Standards and Common Core Standards for Speaking and Listening. Since the program was launched in 2011, the National Youth Summit has engaged more than 65,000 live viewers and many more through the archived programs. To view Summit highlights and learn more visit https://americanhistory.si.edu/national-youth-summit/gender-equity.
The National Youth Summit is made possible by the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation and the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation K-12 Learning Endowment and is part of a larger Smithsonian initiative focused on civic engagement intended to help Americans understand the past in order to make sense of the present and to shape a more informed future. The museum has created a vigorous program with curricula, websites and outreach opportunities for students and teachers across the nation.
The International Museum of Art & Science (IMAS) is fully accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and is an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. The mission of the International Museum of Art & Science is to promote a deeper appreciation of the arts and sciences through its exhibitions, cultural events, and educational programs; and to preserve, expand, and display its permanent art and science collections.
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