When most Chester children see images of their city they tend to be in the newspaper and on television screens, and the images are rarely positive. “In the news, all you ever hear about Chester is bad schools and killings. The newspapers don’t cover the good news. The 10 o’clock news did not feature the story of the Chester ballroom dance team winning the finals or the fact that we’re building a new high school,” says Isaiah Guy, fourteen, a ninth grader at The Chester Charter School for the Arts (CCSA).

This Sunday, April 24, Isaiah and his classmates at CCSA, are taking their visual art to Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church for a pop up art show titled 21st Century Perspectives.

The Artists’ Reception will take place at 3:15 p.m. at The Ministries Center at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 625 Montgomery Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010. The pop up show follows a recital by acclaimed organist Philippe Lefebvre of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris at 2 p.m. in the main sanctuary. The exhibit will be on view until May 1.

One of the goals of the Chester children’s pop up art show is to share Chester through their eyes and to disrupt popular conceptions about the City. “We’re trying to make a difference for our school and our community,” says Khadijah, a sixth grader and featured artist.

In preparation for their first pop-up art show in the area, CCSA’s 6th – 9th graders each selected a Chester landmark to represent artistically and reflected on its social significance. The students wrote captions for their work to contextualize their perspectives. Ashanti Bradley, eighth grade, selected Commodore Barry Bridge, writing, “As a Chester native, I see the bridge every day. The bridge is a significant landmark. It rises above the City. Sometimes it feels like people are just driving over us. It is easy for people to travel by, never having to see Chester and what it has to offer. I chose the bridge because I see it as a metaphor for lots of other things.”

In addition to the landmarks projects, K-9 students at CCSA are studying the Impressionists, American Modernism, ceramics, and sculpture and have produced a wide variety of artwork, which will be on display.

Steve Piltch, Head of School at the Shipley School and a founding board member at CCSA, says, “This exhibit is amazing (and so is the school)! Chester children as young as 5 are using their perceptual, organizational, verbal and writing skills to explore their own creativity and imagination. And the exhibition experience is a crash course about the art world. Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church has given our students a wonderful opportunity to be entrepreneurial, innovative and artistic.”
Founded in 2012 by a community of concerned individuals and educators—including Steve Piltch and many Swarthmore College faculty, staff, and alumni—CCSA has always been a place where students’ creativity and artistic voices are at the center of the curriculum.

Currently, serving almost 500 children as a K – 9 school, CCSA is growing to a K-12 school by 2018. CCSA is the highest performing public district or public charter school in the Chester Upland School District. The school received the Caroline Alexander Buck Foundation Award for transformational excellence in 2014 including $200,000 in grants to begin an arts-integrated high school program.

Bonnie Atwood, a member of the Music and fine Arts Council of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church shares, “There’s definitely a lot of excitement when students walk into an art gallery for the first time and see their work on the walls and see people from the community viewing their work, reading their captions and trying to understand their vision. We at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian are delighted to give students the opportunity to have these experiences.”

For more information about the show, contact Hillary Sorin at hsorin@thechesterfund.org or (610) 859-2988.