VSA Wisconsin receives 2014 Award of Excellence in Innovation in Programs

VSA Wisconsin was recognized by the international VSA Affiliate Council with the 2014 Award for Excellence in Innovation in Programs for its collaboration with Forward Theater Company of Madison. This award recognizes an innovative program that is original, documentable, replicable, and ahead of its time.

VSA Wisconsin and Forward Theater Company joined forces in winter 2013-2014 to challenge perceptions and raise awareness about art and the creative process. The collaboration was inspired by Forward Theater's production of Red, the story of famed abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko.

Kathie Wagner, president of VSA Wisconsin says, “Our collaboration with Forward Theater inspired us to think outside the box. We challenged the teaching artists at our art center to plan their fall classes around the theme What Is Art? They developed new ideas for individual and collaborative art making that they hadn’t tried with our program participants. One teaching artist projected images of the work of famous artists. After viewing work by Kandinsky, one participant, who had previously only drawn cats, drew something entirely different for the first time. Another participant, who has a very short attention span, finished an entire art project and proudly pointed out shapes in his storybooks -- a new experience for him as well as for his father, who viewed the completed project with delight and surprise.” Selected works created in the classes were on view at VSA Wisconsin's gallery in the exhibition, "What is Art? A Showcase of Expressive Responses.”

Those attending Red performances were able to view samples of some of the VSA Wisconsin projects in the Playhouse Theatre lobby at the Overture Center for the Arts and were invited to add their responses to "What is Art?” on a large canvas. Jennifer Uphoff Gray/Artistic Director says, "Forward Theater Company is proud to have partnered with VSA Wisconsin, and congratulates them on winning the 2014 Award for Excellence in Innovation in Programs. This is the kind of outreach program that we strive to offer our audiences, and it was truly inspirational for us to see the creative works and artistic visions that resulted from this collaboration. We are thrilled that it benefited such an incredible organization."