Summer Workshops with Landmarks


A group of students surround Deborah Butterfield's "Vermillion" a horse sculpture made from scrap metal.


Landmarks welcomed students from the UT Prep program, organized by UTeach Outreach. The program aims to increase access to STEM-based educational opportunities for students from underserved communities and backgrounds. For example, 62% of students in the program received a scholarship to attend the program, 45% were female, and 46% of graduates are first-generation students.

During the five-week program, Landmarks Education Coordinator Catherine Whited and Education Intern Arianna Hernandez-Baptiste led more than eighty 6th and 7th grade students through art-based workshops. Activities were based on three Landmarks works: Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #520; Deborah Butterfield’s Vermillion; and Jennifer Steinkamp’s EON. Each drew connections to STEM-based ideas and principles found in the works.

A group of students balance a tennis ball on top of a toilet paper roll as part of an activity with Jennifer Steinkamp's "EON," a large-scale digital installation.


At EON, students learned about the concept of symbiosis and how Steinkamp’s work envisions an ecosystem of cooperation rather than competition. “Pulling from the idea of symbiosis we did some team-building exercises including a ‘human-knot’ where students had to hold hands and get tangled with each other and then communicate to untangle their groups,” said Whited

This activity accompanied another team-building activity where students had to balance a tennis ball on a toilet paper roll held up by strings. “In groups of 4 or 5, I had them navigate around an obstacle course without dropping the tennis ball,” said Whited, “After a few tries, some of them solved the problem creatively – I told them they could not touch the ball, but some of them tied it to the toilet paper roll with their strings and completed the obstacle course that way. An ingenious solution I didn’t foresee!”

A group of students collage in front of Deborah Butterfield's "Vermillion" a horse sculpture assembled from scrap metal.


At Deborah Butterfield’s Vermillion students learned about the artist’s expertise in equine anatomy. Whited led students through a collage activity, asking them to assemble animals out of things cut from magazines and colored paper. “Even though Vermillion’s made of out of scrap metal you can still tell it’s a horse,” said Whited, “With that in mind I challenged them to cut up unusual elements and create atypical animal colleges.”

Landmarks’ workshops allowed students to decompress and think alternatively about the heavy math and science questions in their other classes as part of the program. “I gathered that these students aren’t generally immersed in the world of art. This is a very STEM-focused camp – they had engineering classes, they had math classes, campus mentorship classes – and so for them to step into something so different and still apply STEM principles was a new experience for most of them,” said Whited. “It was great to see the other side of their brains activated. They had used so much of their left brain that I was happy to help work their right brain with these activities.”

A group of students observe Jennifer Steinkamp's "EON" a large-scale digital work.


The summer program highlighted the continued ways works from Landmarks’ collection can be used to draw on curricular connections and expand the reach of Landmarks’ educational efforts. “Being on a college campus means we don’t get to work with children often, so it was meaningful to bring the collection to this group of 11- and 12-year-olds and get them interested in contemporary art,” said Whited.

Thank you to UT Prep for including Landmarks in their curriculum and the students that made the workshops worthwhile!