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Building a Rich and Colorful Experience

Building a Rich and Colorful Experience
Using Social Sculpture Concepts to Develop Our Summer Classroom Experiences
by Jamie Powell
Pasadena Educational Foundation Programs Manager


This next summer will mark my 5th year managing the Summer Enrichment Program for the Pasadena Educational Foundation. The work is challenging, creative, and rewarding, and often reminds me of the process of creating one of my public art projects. To have a successful public art project collaboration is key, and that’s true for our summer program too.

With a master’s degree in public and contemporary art practices, I often view this work as an extension of my art practice that includes opportunities for learning and discovery. Both the process and the goals of educating the public are embedded in my art practice and the programs I build. My art practice involves many ideas and formats as it alternates between performance and installation art and is often identified as the new genre of social sculpture. This type of communal sculpting allows for the exploration of new ideas. Similarly, students attending the summer program have the opportunity explore and discover new interests.

Artists are always thinking of their audiences, especially when the program is a public artwork that aims to engage others to participate. In order to make sure that I am considering my audience I start with lots of data from our surveys. This is the first step to listening and collaboratively building a program that appeals to parents and students. Each detail is carefully considered as I work to craft a more refined and thoughtful version of the program. I slowly build layers of class options and program additions (pre-care and afternoon) to create a robust program. I aim to ensure that the experience that children receive is rich and colorful, and one that I would want my own child to experience.

Last summer we collaborated with 15 entities for the summer program. These partnerships allow for a richer experience in the classroom, as we draw on the skills and knowledge from industry professionals. They also allow for more class choices, making our program unique in that a child can have both academics and enrichment all in one program. Some of our partners are also from our district departments, and they help to ensure that the academic needs are fulfilled during the summer months.

When I’m not in the busy season of summer you can find me working on a community project, like my current one: Drawing Together. I am inspired by nature, my toddler, and consider myself a lifelong learner. As a Pasadena resident, parent, public artist, and community member I am proud to serve the community with our high-quality, low-cost option that keeps children learning and exploring during the summer months.


Artist and educator, Jamie Crooke Powell, is Programs Manager for the Pasadena Educational Foundation and manages the Summer Enrichment program providing more than 1,500 students an affordable high-quality summer program. She holds a MFA degree with a minor in art therapy and emphasis is pedagogy, and has worked with diverse student populations in Miami, Boston, and Los Angles since 2006.  Her administrative work mirrors her art practice, which is comprised of project-based artworks that utilize pedagogical models, poetics, and a public practice.  Jamie is a lifelong learner, which informs her administrative and art practices.