Project Pivot Teens at Roy G. Biv Gallery


If you were one of the more than 500 visitors to this month’s Gallery Hop in the Short North, you might have been stopped by a strange traveler outside of the ROY G BIV Gallery, and beckoned onwards to explore a magical realm of cosmic wonder…

Who are these mystical beings? Interstellar travelers? Creatures from another dimension? Nay! Secrets of the Cosmos, open at ROY G BIV Gallery through March, was produced and executed by a collective of 20 young artists with whom I work as part of CMA’s Project Pivot. Now it its fourth and final year, Project Pivot is a four-year research project partnering with the Arts and College Preparatory Academy (ACPA). The teaching team includes ACPA teachers, as well as, teaching artists from CMA. The program follows an emergent curriculum model, flexing the content of the curriculum to respond to student interests.

Project Pivot began in the 2010-2011 school year, giving students the opportunity to remain with Project Pivot for all four years of high school. CMA is conducting formal evaluation to help us uncover the benefits of this experimental approach to high school education. Project Pivot is generously funded by the Ingram White Castle Foundation and the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation

So how does a collective of 20 young artists go from this to this?:


Creating a show like Secrets of the Cosmos is the work of several months. As spectacular as the performance itself was, the hard work and effort the students put forth in its conception and installation was, itself, amazing to watch.

Though I would love to share with all of you the entire process, in the interest of time, and because they say it better than I do, here are the Pivoteers’ thoughts about the process of installing and performing for an audience of 300+ strangers in a public gallery:


“It was fun to set up but you got a really serious sense about it, like “oh, this surreal, we’re really making our ideas happen now?”

“It was kind of a reality check in a sense. It was like “this is really happening, we are gonna do this in front of so many people.’ It was kind of nerve wracking”


“Having people help you… it’s a lot easier.”

“Everybody was talking and helping everyone out.”

“It was exhausting but exciting at the same time just to know all the work we have been doing for the past several weeks would be presented to an important audience.”


“I was nervous in a good way. There was kind of a little rush of people and the energy in our room was very high, and eerie, and there were like butterflies in my tummy.”


“The whole thing is a cycle, and in the project, the process felt like that. Some people even came back through again, so it’s true that the end of something is really the beginning of something else.”

“We are so lucky to have had an opportunity like this. I think it was the best it could’ve been, I’m so fortunate for the amazing things we are doing and becoming.”

Over the course of this year, our students have thought, questioned, searched, reflected, made, remade, learned and relearned, tried things out, got silly, got serious and, in the end, created something unforgettable to share with their community. As an educator, I get to see and delight in all these moments of discovery. I am honored and grateful to have had this chance, and I can’t wait to see where these students go from here, both with their final project (sunset, at Glen Echo Park!) and beyond.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Cat Lynch, Teaching Artist for School Initiatives