Summer 2016 Odyssey High School Program Concludes at Hyde Park Art Center

by Jared Spitz, Summer Intern with The Odyssey Project - High School Program

last edited on Wed. August 17 2016

On Thursday July 28th, The Odyssey High School Program celebrated the end of its Summer 2016 session at the Hyde Park Art Center. Students, parents, faculty, and friends enjoyed dinner and refreshments before gathering in the second floor gallery to listen to the presentations prepared by the capstone scholars. The seniors, who have been with the program since their freshman year at Harlan, spent the last three weeks in an art history course that culminated with their capstone presentations.

For the final, each student chose a piece of artwork from Patric McCoy’s collection to present to the attendees of the event. Mr. McCoy’s collection features over one thousand paintings, drawing, sculptures, prints, etc. of African-American art. The students archived over one hundred works in Mr. McCoy’s collection and chose a work of art that they found particularly engaging for their final project. Mr. McCoy graciously offered his home several hours a day for the scholars to hold class, research art objects and artists, as well as prepare their final presentations. Additionally, scholars utilized the resources at the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, to complete their projects. This partnership stemmed from the collaborative summer program, In Anticipation of Belonging, an ongoing conversation at The Smart around what it means to ‘belong’. The Smart Museum provided their galleries as classroom space for the scholars, and presented the students with works of art that both challenged and expanded their understanding of belonging, which in turn, pushed the students to dig deeper into the artwork they chose from Mr. McCoy’s collection. 

The final project required the scholars to research their artist’s history, the various forms, mediums, content, style etc. associated with the artist’s work, and some were even able to conduct personal interviews with their artist about their work. After gathering all of the information they needed, the students designed a PowerPoint presentation outlining the general information they had gathered about their artist, as well as the artist’s influences, and well-known works of art by each individual artist. The students spent hours during the final week crafting their presentations for the event on Thursday night. In all, the scholars produced extraordinary presentations; they spoke confidently about what they had learned through their research, asking thought-provoking and nuanced questions about the implications of and intentions behind the various works of art. The final event embodied the success of the summer 2016 Odyssey High School Program: by participating in an intense, college level course designed to not only prepare them for college, but also allow them to earn transferable college credit towards their degree, each student gained invaluable experience in public speaking, research, and the pursuit of humanistic inquiry that will advance their academic and professional careers. 

From all of us at The Odyssey Project, congratulations to our graduating scholars! We are excited to see what your future holds and looking forward to the next round of Odyssey coursework to begin!


This project anticipates Conversations with the Collection: Belonging, a yearlong project that opens August 16 and explores ideas of belonging through objects from across cultures and eras on display throughout the Smart Museum’s collection galleries.

Follow the Smart Museum blog for a weekly look at the conversations, events, and works of art being developed over the course of In Anticipation of Belonging