Collecting: Steel Valley High School

Class collecting project inspired by Portia Munson


Meagan O’Toole, Video Productions
Gail Meister, Visual Art


Meagan O’Toole and Gail Meister’s Collecting Unit lead to compelling discussions on a range of issues from the ethical nature of public zoo’s collections of animals to Nazi Germany and the holocaust. In O’Toole’s video production class, students explored many artists and their use of materials and techniques in order to gain an understanding of what art is in the contemporary realm of new media and how can we understand it through the activity of collecting. Warhol staff presented information about Warhol and other artist’s practices at their school to motivate students and to guide their aesthetic inquiry.These motivations were key factors in the units success. The students were interested in the overlap of this project between art and other disciplines. They asked to see more film and video work by artists and were able to strengthen their philosophical questions and inquiry skills.


Brainstorming Map 
The Brainstorming session conducted by Meagan O’Toole, as recorded through her journal entries moved the students into a deeper realm of conversation and understanding of the conceptual nature of collecting.

Personal Collecting: Teacher Boxes
A motivating factor used by O’Toole and Meister was their adaptation termed the  “teacher box.” Teachers within the school created personal collections of objects, which were displayed in the school, and students were invited to guess which boxes belonged to which teacher.

Professional Collecting: Portia Munson Inspires Group Project 
One of Steel Valley’s collaborative projects used Portia Munson’s collecting practice as a model. Each student collected objects according to the rainbow colors: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. The objects were sorted, arranged, photographed then reproduced in poster style formats (see images). These were submitted to Andy Warhol Museum’s Youth Invasion and were accepted into the curated exhibition.

Teacher Reviews:


I really enjoyed this partnership. I wish my kids had come to the Youth Invasion so that they could see the art that other kids are making. That's one element that I'd definitely want to work on because the kids need to get the opportunity to share ideas and experience communication with others as we [Learning Lab] teachers have had the chance to do.

Meagan O'Toole, Video Productions, Steel Valley High School  

These video and art students had not collaborated together previously and found that they miss each other now that the project is over.

Gail Meister, Visual Art, Steel Valley High School  
Image Gallery
Museum activity exploring who collects information using different media.
Collecting Projects: Steel Valley High School