Category Archives: Spotlight

AH Spotlight Returns to PS 46X

It is currently midway through a glorious summer, and Arts Horizons is still hard at work after a successful year of arts education residencies and assemblies! We thank all of our wonderful teaching artists for being such an integral part of the Arts Horizons community. We sincerely value their amazing work in bringing art to so many classrooms, hospitals, auditoriums, gymnasiums, and community centers throughout New York and New Jersey. We also thank all of the site administrators, coordinators, teachers, and support staff at our many partner schools and organizations for welcoming us into their spaces.

We would like to once again highlight and recognize our longstanding partnership with PS 46X:  Edgar Allen Poe, an elementary school located in the Bedford Park neighborhood of the Bronx. We are grateful for Principal Jennifer Ade-Alexander, Assistant Principal Roxanna Bello-Sullivan, Assistant Principal Mary Champagne, Librarian Karen Ramirez, ESL Teacher Cindy Cabral, and the faculty and staff for their continued support and dedication to arts education. During the spring semester, six teaching artists conducted successful residencies at PS 46X in a variety of artistic disciplines including:  visual art, dance, music, and storytelling.

Chris Lin’s Saturday morning family workshops were a resounding success, and you can read more about his residency here. Award-winning drummer and longtime AH teaching artist Larry Washington conducted a soulful percussion residency with kindergarteners. Theater artist, musician, and longtime AH teaching artist Navida Stein conducted a brilliant storytelling residency with 1st graders. Multi-instrumentalist Andy Algire taught recorder to 2nd graders. Well-known choreographer and actress Suzi Tipa taught many world dance forms to 3rd graders. Noted Hip Hop and Afro-Brazilian dancer Silvana Marquina conducted a dynamic dance residency for 4th graders.

AH Program Coordinator, Kiran Rajagopalan, returned to PS 46X earlier in May to observe Suzi, Larry, and Andy in action! Let’s take a quick peek into their classes…

Larry’s kindergarten percussion class was high-energy and full of surprises! Students not only learned to play a new percussion instrument each week, but they also learned to sing and enact several songs. Baba Larry then requested Kiran to participate in a “freeze dance” with the students, and the students responded with cheers when he showed off his Indian classical dance skills. The class ended with a Carnaval dance party, and students spontaneously formed a samba line and danced to Baba Larry’s sizzling Afro-Brazilian beats!

A kindergartner tries playing Larry Washington’s balafon

Andy’s 2nd grade recorder class began with a series of fun warm-up exercises for the fingers, arms, wrists, and shoulders. Andy then brought out his balafon, an ancient West African wooden xylophone, and the students rehearsed their chosen piece for PS 46X’s annual end of the year showcase. Andy thoughtfully guided his orchestra, and the students’ enthusiasm and eagerness to sing and play their recorders were clearly evident.

Andy Algire teaches 2nd graders how to play the recorder

Suzi’s 3rd grade class studied a wide range of dance styles from Italy, India, Mexico, and the United States. During this session, students were introduced to el jarabe tapatío, popularly known as the “Mexican Hat Dance.” After a robust warm-up, Suzi introduced the fundamental steps of the dance and then quickly transitioned to a challenging sequence of choreography. Despite the hot cafeteria, students pushed through their rehearsal, and they showed off their moves in an impromptu dance circle at the end of Suzi’s class!

3rd Graders warm up with Suzi Tipa

We are thrilled to see such active participation in the arts at PS 46X, and we are excited to continue our collaborative work with the school for the next academic year. Stay cool and stay tuned for further updates from Arts Horizons!

Spotlight: DYCD’s “Beyond the Voice” with Arts Horizons

Arts Horizons is pleased to highlight and recognize our partnership with the NYC Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) for an amazing songwriting initiative for talented student musicians called “Beyond the Voice.” AH Teaching Artists Baba Israel, Pamela Hamilton, Yako Prodis, Dawn Crandell, and Teaching Artist Grace Galu conducted masterclasses and professional development workshops for students participating in DYCD’s “Beyond the Voice.” According to DYCD’s Facebook page, “Beyond the Voice” is a “competition [to] challenge youth to create a beat and sing a song dedicated to their community…and the program uses components of literacy and presentation skill building.”

A student improvising various genres of music with Baba and Yako

During the last week of March and the first week of April, Pamela, Baba, and Yako conducted 1.5-hour mentoring sessions with each of the 10 participating student musicians/groups at various Beacon, Cornerstone, and SONYC afterschool sites in Queens, Bronx, and Manhattan. These sessions were dedicated to providing students with constructive feedback, critique, and guidance as they continued to work on their original songs. The participating sites in this program were: Quest Youth Organization (Bedford-Stuyvesant), Moshulu Montefiore Community Center – Evander Campus (Gun Hill), The Child Center of New York (Flushing), Long Island University – Advantage Higher Education (Downtown Brooklyn), Southern Queens Park Association (Jamaica), Greater Ridgewood Youth Council at York Early College Academy (Jamaica), Harlem Children Zone (Central Harlem), Johnson Community Center (East Harlem) and Phipps Community Development Corporation – Beacon @ IS 192 (West Farms).

After these one-on-one artist mentoring sessions, students and faculty gathered at Countee Cullen Community Center, a program of the Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc. housed in PS 194M in Manhattan, on Monday, April 10, 2017 from 11:00AM to 4:00PM for a collective “mentoring day” with all of the teaching artists. “Beyond the Voice” will culminate with a student showcase scheduled for Saturday, May 20, 2017 at JCC Manhattan. AH Program Coordinator Kiran Rajagopalan had the opportunity to attend this “mentoring day” and he witnessed these students’ brilliant musicianship and their eagerness to learn more about taking their art to the next level.

Baba, a noted Hip-Hop MC, began the day with a lecture-demonstration on freestyle and improvisation with the assistance of Yako, a talented music producer and multi-instrumentalist, and several students on guitar. Performance artist and dancer Dawn Crandell then conducted a movement workshop in which students were taught exercises improve their stage presence. Students were first asked to state their name and to come up with a single movement which best expresses their “current state of being.” This was followed by exercises on nervous mannerisms and “what not to do on stage” that were particularly engaging and illuminating.

In the third session, students presented rough cuts of their songs for feedback and critique from the teaching artists. Baba also facilitated a discussion with each student about the creative process involved in crafting his or her song. Following lunch, soul vocalist and vocal coach Grace Galu led students through a series of vocal warm-ups that can be done quickly before rehearsal or performance. She also stressed the importance listening through exercises with harmony and a round-robin rendition of an African chant.

The reminder of the afternoon was dedicated to the teaching artists engaged in one-on-one sessions with the students in groups. Dawn worked with two students on incorporating movement into their duet performances while Pamela, a prolific jazz vocalist and violinist, worked with another student on crafting a hook for her song. Yako worked with instrumentalists on stage to tighten up several songs that had played for earlier, and Grace worked with soloists on vocal projection. Baba, as the primary organizer and facilitator, oversaw all of the groups and began setup for the final professional development session.

The mentoring day ended with Baba leading a workshop on lyric writing with figurative language, beatmaking, and music production with the assistance of Yako. This was followed by an essential, but brief professional development lecture on copywriting, royalties, promotion, and liabilities by Baba. Although scheduled to end at 4:00 PM, the session lasted until 4:20 PM with students fully engaged!

Baba & Yako freestyling for students in the opening session

Pamela working one-on-one with a student on crafting a hook

Ronald McDonald Brings the Beat to Hospital Schools

Arts Horizons is pleased to highlight and recognize the support of Ronald McDonald House Charities of NYC Tri-State Area in bolstering our Art Beat program for this fiscal year through a generous grant. Art Beat is partnership between Arts Horizons and Hospital Schools, a division of the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) that provides educational services for all special education students who are hospitalized for extended stays.  Art Beat provides interactive music and visual art workshops to promote rehabilitation, learning and cultural experiences for special needs students in an arts-rich, safe, creative, and emotionally uplifting environment.

The program merges the fields of art, healthcare, and academics, to create a space of comprehensive education, healing and expression for special needs students with extended, and in some cases residential, hospital stays. This collaborative effort was established in 2009 and has since been integrated into more than a dozen of the NYCDOE’s hospital school locations. Arts Horizons’ aim to expanding our arts education offerings to hospitals through Art Beat aligns well with Ronald McDonald House Charities of NYC Tri-State Area’s mission to “help as many children as possible achieve their fullest potential by supporting programs in education and the arts.” Arts Horizons is grateful for Ronald McDonald House Charities of NYC Tri-State Area’s generous support, and we look forward to nurturing and sustaining this fruitful partnership for years to come.

Our 2017 Hospital Schools programs supported by the Ronald McDonald House Charities of NYC Tri-State Area take place at four hospital sites. Mr. Yah’aya Kamate leads percussion programs at Metropolitan Hospital Center and Mt. Sinai-St. Luke’s Hospital Center. Mr. Shidaun Campbell leads students in Beatboxing and Dance at Bronx Lebanon Hospital – Fulton Center, and Ms. Tira Bluestone presents music programs to students Sunshine Children’s Home and Rehabilitation Center (part of Westchester BOCES). AH Program Coordinator, Kiran Rajagopalan, had the opportunity to see students play pulsating African rhythms on djembe drums at Mt. Sinai-St. Luke’s Hospital Center with Yah’aya. He also saw students use their own bodies as percussion with Shidaun at Bronx Lebanon Hospital – Fulton Center. Let’s take a quick peek into their Art Beat classes!

A dancer, instructor, choreographer, masquerade artist, and fire-eater from Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, Yah’aya Kamate is a dynamic performer and a longtime teaching artist with Arts Horizons. For his classes at Metropolitan Hospital Center and Mt. Sinai-St. Luke’s Hospital Center, he arranged students in a drum circle and taught them some basic hand movements and sound patterns on djeme drums from West Africa. Yah’aya used a variety creative methods for engaging students to play for long periods of time including:  handclapping, numbers signifying where to hit on the drum (“1 2 2 1”), and a carefully constructed sentence embedded with a rhythm to be played (“We walk the big dog now”). Oscar Riquelme, site coordinator at Metropolitan Hospital Center, stated that Yah’aya was an “outstanding residency choice…and an amazing teacher,” and that “the kids were in rhythmic heaven!”

Yah’aya leading students in a drum circle at Mt. Sinai-St. Luke’s Hospital Center

Shidaun Campbell is a sought-after dancer (Hip Hop, modern, jazz, and African), spoken word artist, and published author who formally joined Arts Horizons roster of teaching artists this year. His sessions at Bronx Lebanon Hospital – Fulton Center focused on beatboxing and elements of Hip Hop dance. The first part of his class began with a simple breakdown of the fundamental sounds in vocal percussion:  “Everyone say ‘base!’ Say ‘ba!’ Say ‘b!’ Now say ‘pbf!’“ This exercise was followed by a “beatbox cipher” in which students gather in a circle and add a single word or sound to a rhythmic pattern in a round-Robin manner. Finally, students learned “tutting,” a basic move in Hip Hop dance directly inspired by the reliefs in Ancient Egyptian art. Gym teacher Eric Gentry noted that it was a pleasure to work with Shidaun because he made sure to “showcase his expertise in dance” so that students “could understand what they can possibly practice into with hard work.”

Shidaun teaching “tutting” to students in his Beatboxing & Hip Hop dance residency at Bronx Lebanon Hospital – Fulton Center

For more information please contact Mr. Kiran Rajagopalan, Program Coordinator at kiran@artshorizons.org or Ms. Dena Malarek, Program Director at dena@artshorizons.org.

Spotlight: Chris Lin @ PS 46X

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!

Chris Lin assisting his younger participants at PS 46

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!

Spotlight: Vickie Fremont in Fordham University @ PS 85X

Noted fashion designer, anthropologist, and recycled materials artist Ms. Veronique “Vickie” Fremont has been an AH teaching artist for over eight years.  Fluent in five languages (French, Spanish, English, Portuguese, and Italian), Vickie is a highly effective arts educators for English Language Learners (ELLs).  She has just finished an AH in-school visual arts residency at PS 85 in partnership with Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education in the Fordham Heights neighborhood of the Bronx.  Ms. Joyce Griffen, another AH teaching artist who has been working with us since 2009, is also currently working with PS 85 students in a storytelling program.  Joyce is an accomplished actress, jazz vocalist and director with extensive experience in special education.

Arts Horizons is pleased to enter our second year at PS 85 in partnership with the Fordham Center for Educational Partnerships initiative with Community Schools.  This continues a longstanding relationship working with the students and educators at PS 85 that dates back to 2007.

AH’s new program coordinator, Kiran Rajagopalan, visited one of Vickie’s classes earlier in January at PS 85.  Let’s visit one of her classes

accordion-book-and-storyAn “Accordion Book” by one of Vickie’s students

Vickie’s AH residency was aimed at PS 85’s ELL students primarily in grades 3 and 4.  She focused on bookmaking so that students had ample opportunities to practice writing in English.  In the picture above, Vickie is holding some examples of “The Book of Diversity” created by her students using recycled materials such as cloth scraps, beads, and yarn.  Students were also instructed to draw a self-portrait and write on where they come from and how they are learning English inside the books.  This was just one of several books the students made during the residency!  Other projects included:  “The Book of the Favorite Words,” “Book Accordion,” and “Mobile Book.”

Vickie also used her proficiency in Spanish to great effect, and she conducted her classes in both English and Spanish so that communication was clear for each and every student.  Mr. Carlos Torres, a teacher at PS 85, was very appreciative of having an visual arts program for students because it “really makes a difference with academic[s]” as it “engages their creativity and relaxes their minds to learn.”  Vickie added that her residencies are designed to encourage students to “discover the connection between the hand and creativity.”

img_7047-editedStudents at work in PS 85X with Vickie (left) and Carlos (right)

Spotlight: Judy Richardson @ PS 279K

Brooklyn-based visual artist and educator Judy Richardson is currently conducting an AH in-school residency for 3rd and 5th graders at PS 279 in the Canarsie neighborhood of Brooklyn.  Associated with AH since 2006, Judy is an experienced teaching artist who has skillfully used a variety of visual art mediums to enrich students, teachers, and administrators at over 25 sites.

Judy and Donovan Nelson, another AH teaching artist, are currently engaged in residencies as part of a year-long arts education program at PS 279.  This school is a longtime and regular partner of AH, and this program was started last year with Judy and Donovan.  Due to the overwhelming success of their residencies, PS 279’s administration decided to continue the full-year arts curriculum with both AH teaching artists to reach grades K-5.

AH’s new program coordinator, Kiran Rajagopalan, visited one of Judy’s classes earlier in January at PS 279.  Let’s take a quick peek inside one of her classes!

judy-blog-picStudents at work making their dolls

Judy’s AH residency closely aligned with what the students are currently studying in American History.  In the picture above, Judy is working with the 3rd graders on making dolls in the likeness of three “Heroines in History” – Rosa Parks, Clara Lemlich, and Betsy Dowdy.  Students are taught the basics of sewing including how to properly thread a needle and knot the string to begin or end a series of stitches.  They are then given yarn, sequins, cloth scraps, and other materials in which to decorate their dolls.  One student commented on how she was “nervous at first to sew because” she was “afraid of needles.”  However, with Judy’s guidance, she overcame her fear and is now “much more confident” with sewing.

Likewise, Judy’s 5th grade classes are working on creating a large Freedom Quilt using coded patterns created from the Underground Railroad.  Students learn the basics of quilting and then create their own quilt squares with hidden messages!  These squares will then be stitched together into a larger class quilt.

img_2948Sample of a quilt patch made by a 5th grader

img_2949Doll made by a 3rd grader

Judy’s AH residency will culminate with a wonderful exhibition of the amazing work done by students throughout the spring semester.  The 3rd graders, in particular, will introduce their characters during a puppet show interview.

NEXT SPOTLIGHT:  Vickie Fremont’s AH residency at PS 85X in partnership with Fordham University

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