Aldrich names Risa Puno as latest artist leading Common Ground program

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum announced artist Risa Puno will lead the museum’s Common Ground program with seventh grade students at Norwalk’s Side by Side Charter School.

Common Ground is a cross-disciplinary school-museum-artist curriculum partnership serving students from Ridgefield’s public schools and Side by Side Charter School. It was developed in 2015 to function as a classroom/laboratory where students engage in creating projects through writing, art-making, and analytical thinking, while educators learn how to use art as a tool for teaching critical thinking across multiple disciplines.

Common Ground will take place over six full-day sessions from Feb. 4 through March 10. Students will participate through project and problem-based learning as they explore ideas, collaborate and take ownership of their learning experiences with Aldrich alumni artist Risa Puno.

“Common Ground has become a hallmark of our middle school program, where students are challenged to think critically, imagine, and create a vision of alternative possibilities. Students are not only engaging with contemporary art and artists, but multiple perspectives on our contemporary world,” Mary Newbery, assistant director of Side by Side Charter School, said.

Students, teachers, and museum educators will work with Puno to explore broad-reaching and cross-disciplinary perspectives by visiting the exhibitions on view at the Aldrich and learning about the exhibiting artists’ own practices and experiences firsthand. Later the students will create their own project which draws from their curriculum and experiences at the museum working with Puno. Common Ground culminates with final project presentations from the participating students in a partnered event at the school for the broader community.

“Common Ground provides an extremely unique opportunity for students and staff to work alongside an artist-in-residence to design, develop, and create. It is the quintessential STEAM environment which fosters connections across curricula while providing students the ability to make tangible real-world connections. We are truly fortunate to have the Aldrich in our own backyard to lead and support this amazing endeavor,” said Tim Salem, principal at Ridgefield’s Scotts Ridge Middle School.

Puno’s public sculpture project, Common Ground, was installed in the Aldrich’s Sculpture Garden in 2018. Puno is known for her interactive installations and sculptures. She previously displayed her work at the museum in 2012. For more information, visit