Friday, February 2nd, 2024 • 6 – 9 PM

Art Opens Doors creates opportunity for Greenville elementary students to build a more inclusive and vibrant community through art making

Greenville Center for Creative Arts (GCCA) is pleased to announce the launch of Art Opens Doors, a community art project developed by the Open Doors team of the Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI) Upstate Class 34 of The Riley Institute at Furman University in partnership with Greenville County Schools. “Art Opens Doors” is a collaborative visual art project designed to cultivate and celebrate the diversity of the Greenville community through a one-day artistic learning experience at Greenville Center for Creative Arts guided by the Brandon Fellows emerging professional artists.

On January 17th, fifth grade students from AJ Whittenberg Elementary, Sterling School and The Charles Townes Center will participate together in a hands-on visual art project in collaboration with the Brandon Fellows program at the Greenville Center for Creative Arts. The Brandon Fellowship is a 12-month program that aims to develop three emerging artists between the ages of 21 – 30 who represent the diversity of the Greenville community and are eager to advance their professional careers as visual artists. The Fellowship provides a supportive environment, mentorship, professional development, studio space, and art education. GCCA’s Brandon Fellows Class of 2024 are Kephira Davis, Christine Moore-Bonbright, and Elizabeth Wallace.

Danielle Fontaine, visual artist and co-founder of the Brandon Fellowship, is proud to be a member of the 34th Upstate DLI Class and has played an integral role in developing the project as part of the Open Doors team. “The Greenville Center for Creative Arts is a great example of a community where people of many different backgrounds express and share varied outlooks in a congenial atmosphere. They do this using a whole array of visual art mediums and learning from each other along the way.” Fontaine explains. “Our DLI team believes that children on the cusp of entering middle school will also enjoy meeting and learning in this colorful and vibrant atmosphere.”

For the “Art Opens Doors” project, sixteen fifth grade students selected by their school art teachers will participate in an art project at Greenville Center for Creative Arts as a field trip. In addition to art making, students will have the opportunity to meet and work with their peers from other schools and engage in conversations about diversity and community-building as well as touring the Art Center and working collaboratively with the current Brandon Fellows to create a unique piece of artwork and to learn more about career pathways in the fine arts.

As part of the artistic process, the students will engage in an ice-breaking activity pairing students from the different schools, in which they will explore things they may have in common and ways in which they differ. Afterwards they will work in teams to debrief about their conversation with the Brandon Fellows, to develop a theme for the artwork to paint on a wooden door to represent the many ways that “Art Opens Doors” by bringing people of various cultures and backgrounds together around a shared appreciation for art that creates a more vibrant community.

Principal Cameron Brice of AJ Whittenberg Elementary expressed his enthusiasm for this project: “As a school of engineering, AJ Whittenberg Elementary seeks opportunities for students to work collaboratively through project-based learning. This [Art Opens Doors] project allows students to collaborate with their peers to create a finished product. Working with peers who have different ideas and learning how to accomplish a goal together is an important skill for students to learn, and it helps prepare them for the real world.”

Josh Patterson, Principal of Sterling School and The Charles Townes Center state: “Providing our students with meaningful learning experiences is at the center of our school’s mission of supporting the whole child. The Art Opens Doors project provides students with the unique opportunity to engage and collaborate with community leaders who share a similar interest in the arts. This engagement not only inspires but instills a sense of hope for future possibilities in school and in life.”

The doors painted by the students and the Brandon Fellows will be showcased at the Greenville Center for Creative Arts at a special exhibit and opening reception during First Friday gallery crawl at GCCA on Friday, February 2nd from 6:00 – 9:00 pm. This event and exhibition viewing is free and open to the public, and will recognize all participating artists, students, and schools. After the opening reception, the Art Opens Doors exhibit will travel to the participating schools for public viewing.