Category Archives: Special Populations
Arts Horizons is pleased to highlight and recognize our arts education programs under contract with John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Department of VSA and Accessibility. During this academic year, Arts Horizons has been contracted for 4 visual arts residencies at District 75 and Hospital schools in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx through the VSA Children’s Visual Arts Discovery program (VSA-VAD). The schools are: PS 226M @ PS 76M (A. Philip Randolph) in Manhattan, PS 188X @ PS 34X in the Bronx, Queens Transition Center @ High School for Law Enforcement & Public Safety in Queens, and Hospital Schools @ Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn.
Through VSA-VAD, Arts Horizons provided approximately 8 hours of instruction per student at each of the schools listed above. Our residencies fulfilled VSA-VAD’s aim “to build students’ skills through the application of sound pedagogical principals and quality curricula to create original words of visual art and the opportunity to explore one more visual arts media and genres.” They also aligned well with the Kennedy Center’s overarching theme for this year: UBUNTU: Yo Soy…Je suis…I am…Because you are. Ubuntu, which roughly translates to “humanity towards others” in the Nguni Bantu languages of Southern Africa, focuses on art’s unique ability to “create and sustain connections across race, culture, religion, and experience.” An added incentive for students was the opportunity to submit work to be showcased at the Kennedy Center’s “International Art Program for Children with Disabilities” live and online exhibitions in Washington D.C.
Longtime AH Teaching Artist Mr. Mansa Mussa and renowned Staten Island-based visual artist Ms. Sarah Yuster conducted successful and highly-regarded visual arts residencies this year. Mansa is a New Jersey-based visual and performing artist, educator, and consultant who recently celebrated his 20th year with Arts Horizons. Sarah is known for her paintings of urban landscapes and portraits as well as her “Small Truths” film project which documents the experiences of immigration through the eyes of children. AH Program Coordinator Kiran Rajagopalan had the opportunity to visit their classes and observe how they inspired students to showcase their creativity through compelling visual arts projects. Let’s take a quick peek into their classes!
We start with Sarah’s residency for Queens Transition Center at High School for Law Enforcement and Public Safety. This District 75 school primarily serves high school students with Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs) along with documented cases of violence and/or clinically diagnosed mental disorders. Visual art is effective among such students when it promotes creativity in a minimally triggering or volatile environment. Sarah was a nurturing, patient, and gentle instructor, and she was able to introduce her students to life drawing, action sketching, portraiture, and mixed media. According to Sarah, “once it became clear that [students] could delve into a personal endeavor of their choosing, many of them came in week after week to carefully attend a singular piece.” As a result, Sarah was able to submit several beautiful pieces for the Kennedy Center’s exhibition!
Mansa’s visual arts residency for District 75 elementary school PS 226M at PS 76M was devoted to collage-making. This artistic medium effectively showcases artistic creativity with easy-to-use materials such as stickers, stamps, gluesticks, and porous papers. Therefore, it is age-appropriate and safe for elementary school students with special needs and disabilities. Mansa is appreciated for his sensitive approach to teaching students in Hospital Schools and District 75 as well as his ability to pace classes without unnecessary wasting of time and/or art supplies. In this class, students spent the period adding an additional layer of 3-D objects made from grooved sticks and porous paper to their collages with the able assistance of teachers and paraprofessional educators. He even had students photograph their work using his iPad at the end of class!
Mansa also delivered visual arts residencies through VSA-VAD at PS 188X @ PS 34X and Hospital Schools @ Kings County Hospital. As one of our senior-most teaching artists, he will be representing Arts Horizons at the Kennedy Center’s VSA Interactions: Arts and Special Education Conference in August!
Born and raised in Taiwan, Chris Lin is a Queens-based visual artist with over 25 years of teaching experience. He has worked with students of all age groups, newly immigrated Chinese ELL students, and senior citizens. Since 2010, he has been an instructor at the Leroy Neiman Art Center (LNAC). Last month, Chris concluded a series of highly successful Saturday morning visual arts workshops as part of an ESL program for parents and families of elementary school students enrolled at PS 46 in the Bronx. This program was possible through NYCDOE’s “Arts and Family Engagement” grant.
This semester, Arts Horizons is pleased to offer the students of PS 46 a wide variety of arts education programs from AH teaching artists Navida Stein (storytelling), Larry Washington (percussion), Suzi Myers (world dance), Silvana Marquina (dance), and Andy Algire (recorder). We are especially grateful for Principal Jennifer Ade-Alexander, Assistant Principal Roxanna Bello-Sullivan, Assistant Principal Mary Champagne, and all of the faculty for their continued support over the years. We are also eager to continue providing an average of 215 students with music, dance, and theater programming with an average of 10 contact hours per student.
AH Program Coordinator, Kiran Rajagopalan, visited one of Chris’s Saturday morning workshops at PS 46 earlier in February. Let’s take a quick peek!
The primary focus of Chris’s residency was on sculptural traditions from around the world. Over five Saturdays, participants created vejigante masks from Puerto Rico, pottery with Mexican motifs, sculptural pop-up books, and animal sculptures commemorating Chinese New Year. The range of materials that participants worked with included: clay, colored cardstock, glitter, and tempera paints. Chris began each session with a brief 10-minute lecture in English on an artistic discipline and introduced specific vocabulary words. Cindy Cabral (ESL teacher) and Karen Ramirez (site coordinator and librarian) then translated his lecture and instructions into Spanish to ensure that communication to all participants was clear. The residency concluded with a formal exhibition of the artwork displayed in PS 46’s state-of-the-art library and an informal reception for the participants and their invited guests.
Parents busy at work painting their pottery at PS 46.
Feedback from both Karen and the participants has been extremely positive for Chris’s residency. Karen commented that he received “rave reviews” from parents and students, and his workshop “is the best they’ve ever had.” She also revealed that participation started off very small during the first session, but enrollment quickly grew to more than 20 regular participants due to positive word-of-mouth. One parent even went home in the middle of one session to pick up her child to participate in the workshop! Both Chris and Karen are eager to do another family workshop at PS 46, and hopefully this time they can enroll more fathers!