Projects in Contemporary Art

Fall 2014

Projects in Contemporary Art (PICA) is a pioneering art class at Riverdale Country School in New York City that explores how contemporary art can function to engage and inspire a high school community.

This class is unusual in many respects, starting with the fact that emphasis is placed more on manifesting concepts in creative ways than on developing traditional art skills. Projects are highly collaborative. They are based completely on the concerns and reflections of the students, from their micro-experiences at school and home, to their macro-experience of their city, country, world, and beyond. The students cooperate for every aspect of the work — from brainstorming concepts to execution, and from documentation to written project statements. They employ a wide range of experimental strategies, including sound/video installation, performance, collage, painting, and social engagement such as interactive murals. They may use almost anything they choose as an art material. And they often work in public, at the centrally located PICA wall, or throughout the school.

PICA students become an art collective, expressing themselves in innovative ways while investigating the communal value of art. In addition, they develop critical skills through in-depth analysis of contemporary artists and artworks from around the world, visits with artists, and trips to relevant exhibitions. 

Developed by multimedia artist and educator Nicky Enright, under the guidance of Art Dept. Chair Peter Simon, PICA may very well be the first contemporary art studio class for high school students in the nation. And PICA practices imagination.

For a time lapse video from the Chalk Perspective project, visit

See PICA files here: