Kerry Keeler Talks PAMM in the Neighborhood

PAMM in the Neighborhood, the interactive art experience tailored for youth camps and community centers throughout Miami-Dade County is back for summer 2019! Dedicated to engaging in the youth community, this two-part program includes artist-led conversations and art making at different facilities, along with artist-led tours at the museum with a new theme each summer.

We were able to chat with Kerry Keeler, the program coordinator, to find out a little more about PAMM in the Neighborhood.

You’ve been involved with this program since the beginning. What was the inspiration behind PAMM in the Neighborhood and how has it evolved over time?
I was asked to head Miami Art Museum’s (MAM) education department in 2003, and there was no education programming planned for the summer. We had only done a couple of one-off projects previously—mural and video workshops under the name “MAM in the Neighborhood.” Our education staff at the time, including myself, was comprised of just two full-time and three part-time employees. But most of us were working artists and I also brought experience creating and managing three of my own small businesses employing artists, as well as other museum programming.

After helping to create and build the school program the first few years of MAM, I wondered how we could keep that momentum going and reach more youth in a similar way. Starting with a Miami-Dade County Parks partnership was the answer, though modern and contemporary art education was not an easy sell, especially for parks with sports themes! But once they tried this new, free, far-reaching MAM in the Neighborhood program with engaging camp visits and interactive museum tours by teaching artists, word spread.

We kept the same “Neighborhood” name, though a new and different program, for familiarity. We also connected with City of Miami Parks and a great variety of community centers to serve about 3,400 campers the first summer. We’ve been recognized with great media coverage over the years, and even a National Association of Counties award for innovation.

pamm_neighborhood_barnyard_yesenia_hernandez_2.jpgPhoto by Yesenia Hernandez

Now that PAMM in the Neighborhood is back up again for the summer, what makes this year’s theme unique from past themes?
We keep changing it up, always a new theme and materials each year! For 2019, “Frame of Mind” is a great way to explore the idea of how we frame things, both literally for a wall and figuratively as outlining a concept or idea.

How are campsites chosen for PAMM in the Neighborhood?
Now in our 16th year, they choose us, knowing we serve almost any established K-12 youth camp in Miami-Dade County. A few too far to visit outside the county even come for tours. Former camp partners all seem to return and know to book as early as they can (mostly online) before the schedule fills up. We also try to inform any new camps to book as soon as possible (requests submitted after spring break).


Are there any standout moments for you throughout the years?
One favorite moment was hearing a boy exclaim upon receiving his own art kit to keep—“This is the best day of my life!” Another memory still tickles me thinking of a summer we used paint (washable and non-toxic, of course) at one of the campsites. After our activity, a small camper asked a camp chaperone what else she should paint, and the adult answered, “How about your little brother?,” since he was also in the camp group. The chaperone went to answer a phone call, and returned to find the little brother with blue arms, purple hands, and an orange face!

Why is PAMM in the Neighborhood important for the community?
This museum and Miami have been growing together, and by now, over 100,000 diverse participants in PAMM/MAM in the Neighborhood have a shared summer creative cultural experience in common.

Why should a facility considering participating in this program?
We provide unique art education disguised as fun. Our summer staff rocks and so does the PAMM in the Neighborhood experience!

Make sure to request a site visit and schedule a PAMM tour here for your facility to be part of PAMM in the Neighborhood.

About Kerry Keeler
Kerry Keeler headshotKerry Keeler is manager of outreach programs at Pérez Art Museum Miami. She attended Florida International University (certificates of outstanding academic achievement), the University of Georgia and Rollins College (scholarship). Additional education includes the American Institute for Foreign Study art history program (conducted in major European cities) and special instruction in Inquiry Method, Object-based Learning, VTS, etc. As a museum educator for 30 years, she has originated and/or facilitated a spectrum of programs, first for the Historical Museum of Southern Florida (1990) and then Miami Art Museum (1997)—now PAMM.

In 2002, she served as artistic director for a local and national award-winning teen video project. Keeler has also garnered a National Association of Counties award for innovative programming (2007) and a Florida DCA/VSA “Inclusive Culture” access award (2009). Her experience includes creation/management over many years of “PAMM in the Neighborhood” for summer camps, “PAMM Art Storytime” for pre-schoolers, “PAMM Free Second Saturdays” for families, “Art-2-Go” community workshops, “Touch Tours” for persons with visual impairments, “Brick x Brick” (cited as a model program in 2009 by the New York Times, 2015/2016 National Youth Awards finalist and 2017 winner), interactive visitor gallery exhibition spaces, and innovative family packs and guides.

Keeler has judged children’s art shows and teacher grant applications, was a long-time steering committee member of the Cultural Educators of Miami, educator/member with the Center for Great Apes, and served for 15 years with the UM Chaplains Association. Additionally, she is a prize-winning artist in ceramics, photography, and mixed-media, with a Wolfson Media History Award and an Emmy for televised documentaries about the Seminole/Miccosukee and AIDS/African children.

Written by Hilda Delgado

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