Jackson Students Enjoy Art Master Class

Jackson Arts Academy students pose with special guest artist Mustart (Ivan Petrovsky). (Photo courtesy Jackson Township School District)

JACKSON – Meeting a master in the field you seek to work in can be an insightful experience. Students of the Jackson Academy of Art recently had such an opportunity when they met Russian artist Mustart (Ivan Petrovsky) who presented a Master Art Experience at Jackson Memorial High School.

Mustart was the second Master Art Experience in what is a continuing series allowing students to meet with artists who are “living the life that they are interested in,” said Allison Erwin, the district’s coordinator of communications and technology.

“It is written into the curriculum of our academies that students be exposed to these types of visitors. Earlier this school year we had an a cappella group come in. These are just two examples of students meeting artists from the real world,” Erwin added.

The Jackson Academy of the Arts was launched at both district high schools this year and includes strands in music, art, theatre and dance.

Art teacher Lisa Stallone coordinates the JAA Art Strand at Jackson Memorial High School and arranged the visit. “These ‘Master Experiences’ are one way the Jackson Academies of Learning provide college and career experiences for students,” Stallone said. She added that her academy students visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on Dec. 15.

“Mustart came to give students feedback. They prepared topics to talk to him about including what it was like to be a working artist, being a street artist, working out of the country and what inspires artists to work every day,” Stallone said.

“We looked at artists who we felt would be local and attainable and we found him through Instagram. At first I was against using social media for this but as I looked at the work of New Jersey artists and I saw that what he did had a positive message. We developed a dialogue with him that continues,” Stallone said.

Stallone added that Mustart moved to America from Russia when he was 14 years old. Mustart stated during his visit that that any type of art whether it involved music, theater or visual arts was “an interaction between you and what you are creating.”

Jackson Arts Academy teacher Lisa Stallone, at left joins Scott Katona, Holly Callahan, Lizabeth Ferullo, Ashley Forsyth, Jason Diaz and Rebecca Young with special guest artist Mustart (Ivan Petrovsky). (Photo courtesy Jackson Township School District)

The street artist is known for his diverse artistic approach which has made him one of the most sought-after street artists in the tri-state area. He told students that he always wanted to be an artist and that his father influenced him when he was a child. “He just spent the last month in Australia doing murals there,” Stallone said.

Freshman Alexis Lees created the Instagram account which has been keeping students informed about current art trends and in touch with Mustart. She said the account “opened us up to seeing new styles of art. I’ve been following Mustart’s work.”

Along with students, Unified Arts teachers and Jackson art academy teachers also attended his forum.

Theresa Licitra, the director of curriculum for humanities, described Mustart’s visit, saying it “provided learners with a platform for inspiration, application, reflection, and growth. The world is full of possibilities and Mr. Mustart provided our learners with a platform and catalyst for future possibilities through the lens of exploration and application.”

Stallone said that Mustart talked about artistic passion, diversity, ethics and collaboration. “He stressed the importance of how to work with someone else and he also told students that he makes it a point to learn from every interaction, engagement, and opportunity. Now he wants to come back and work with our students to do murals here.”

Erwin said that the district is currently soliciting for Master Experience presenters and that the deadline to apply is Jan. 19. Stallone said that while students have a large wish list of presenters like Mr. Doodles and architectural artist Stephen Wiltshire, both from England, that they are looking forward to learning who may be coming to provide the next ‘master experience’ at the academy.

The district has several art events coming up including a Museum Night on March 21 featuring 50 pieces of art at the Jackson Liberty High School and an Art Tech Expo that will serve as a culmination of the year’s artistic work in May at the Jackson Memorial High School.