I arrived at the Rosenbach Museum and Library on Saturday to TEN, yes I said ten, students from the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush, all dressed in purple and gray and ready to present their poetry and photography to a group of Philadelphia art educators. The students did a phenomenal job presenting final works and discussing their process and the impact of the program on their class. Some of my favorite quotes of the day include:
“I feel like now I look at everything from a different perspective and see photographs everywhere. I walk around and think, oh I can take a photo of that, or of that and write a poem about it.”
” I feel like this project taught me lessons in school, but it more taught me lessons about life that I can take with me.”
In addition to our presentation the students all sat and listened to representatives from Young Playwrights present about their in-school programs. They even got a taste of what teacher seminars are like by participating in a writing and reflection exercise (aka Saturday homework). However, I think ending the afternoon with a free tour of the Maurice Sendak collection made it all worth it! I am very proud of each and every one of them!
I’m gearing up today to present at the Arts Inquiry Seminar through The Philadelphia Writing Project this Saturday, May 19 at the Rosenbach Museum and Library. Joining me will be Lorraine Ustaris, 9th grade English and AP English teacher at the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush, and 6 of her students. The fact that she managed to get 6 of her students to do this on a Saturday, in May nonetheless, is amazing! I’m dying to know what her trick is… so I can steal it to use on other people!
We will be discussing the LTP program in general as well as specifically how she introduced it into her classrooms. Her students will each present photographic and written works they created over the last semester and then open the floor for teachers to ask questions of all of us. No worries, photographs and video will be taken to share!
The Arts Inquiry Seminar is an open continuity program through The Philadelphia Writing Project that provides a space for K-12 teachers in all disciplines to engage in an inquiry into how the arts can be infused into their classrooms and schools. This is an opportunity for teachers to collectively explore how their practice can be transformed through arts integration. Participants are awarded 1 continuing education credits upon successful completion of course requirements.
Amy Jared, art teacher at Russell Byers Charter School (RBCS), stopped by today to deliver some of her student artwork for LTP. “They are a little low-tech,” Amy told me, but that what I love most about them! They are bold and immediate. The quick construction of the works fits the immediacy with which the students formulated their personal and powerful statements– “I am strong and caring,” “I can change the world,” “I can make a difference!” I have an urge to go rogue, plastering posters of them all over the city as reminders to other kids that who you are does matter and that you can make a difference in the world.
This was the first of four collaborative projects at RBCS using the LTP teaching tool in the classrooms of Amy Jared, technology coordinator John Landis and 4th grade teacher Allen Garner. Students were challenged to come up with a powerful statement about who they are. Using self-portrait photographs taken in class, the students cut and collaged their image with stamps and their powerful statement to create beautiful, Barbara Kruger-inspired works.
The title of the 2012 LTP student exhibition will be…GATHERING VOICE (July 23 – November 2, 2012)
Now, onto the fun part–opening event planning, invitation designing and spreading the word. Stay tuned for details!
Select photographs and writing by students participating in Learning Through Photography at Moore will be on view from July 23 – November 2, 2012 at City Hall and in twenty-one bus shelters along Market Street between 6th and City Hall in cooperation with Center City District (CCD). Details and an official announcement to come in the following weeks.
Now…if we could only decide on an exhibition title!