Spring is finally in full bloom in New York, and Arts Horizons is preparing for the end of the school year and planning the launch of our summer programs. We are pleased to announce the fifth post of a series in which we spotlight two more of our partner schools in Manhattan that received an “Arts for English Language Learners and Students with Disabilities” (ELL+SWD) grant: PS 184M: Shuang Wen in Chinatown and PS 79M: Horan School in East Harlem. This is Arts Horizons’ fourth season participating in this initiative, and we have announced our 10 partner schools for this academic year in a previous post.
Through this grant, participating schools “receive funding to create new or expand existing partnerships with arts and cultural organizations with experience serving English Language Learners (ELLs) and/or Students with Disabilities (SWD).” Our visual and performing arts programs for Literacy Development and Socio-emotional Growth effectively engaged these student populations through hands-on workshops that stimulated creativity, vocabulary development, speaking, and other communication skills.
At PS 184M, three AH teaching artists – Pat Russell, Navida Stein, and Jeannine Otis – conducted residencies for grades 3, 4, and 7 in Circus Arts, Storytelling, and Musical Theater. AH teaching artists Mansa Mussa and Natalie Alleyne have been part of an extensive visual arts program with District 75 elementary school students at PS 79M. Let’s take a quick visit to their classes!
Earlier in April, AH program coordinator Kiran Rajagopalan attended (and videotaped) the final performances of Jeannine Otis’s 7th grade and Pat Russell’s 3rd Grade classes at PS 184M. Jeannine is an award-winning singer, songwriter, actress, and author, and she is co-director of Theatreworks USA’s production “Freedom Train.” Pat is a multidisciplinary theater artist and longtime teaching artist who specializes in clowning, circus skills, facepainting, and puppetry.
Jeannine’s 7th grade classes presented “Message Songs,” an uplifting series of student-selected songs centered on the theme of social justice. A student representative from each of the three classes spoke briefly about their song choices and how they related to issues they have experienced at school and in their communities. “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson, “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent, and four songs from the megahit musical Hamilton were performed to a packed audience of students and parents. Jeannine even had a guest drummer, bassist, and spoken-word artist STARDA as part of the ensemble!
Immediately following “Message Songs,” the auditorium was transformed into a circus with the assistance of several parent volunteers who hung up pennants, student artwork, and other paraphernalia. Pat’s 3rd grade classes then paraded into the auditorium and performed tricks, skits, and gags that wowed and amazed a second group of students and parents. Students juggled scarves, balanced feathers, played tug-of-war with an imaginary rope, tumbled on mats, performed magic illusions, and did tricks with hula hoops! The 45-minute show ended with an engaging Q&A in which students asked other students about all of the tricks they saw.
It was a monumental undertaking to coordinate the logistics of these performances, and we thank visual arts teacher Ms. E-Anna Soong for all of her effort in their organization and execution. We also thank the principal Ms. Chiu and assistant principal Ms. Mee for welcoming us into their schools.
Kiran then travelled uptown to visit noted mixed media artist Natalie Alleyne at PS 79M, and he observed her students creating collage portraits with such enthusiasm and concentration. Most students were instructed to create collage portraits using bits of construction paper and gluestick. Several students had already completed their collages in a previous class, and they learned how to use a tile cutter in preparation for next week’s lesson of transforming their collages into mosaics. The paraprofessionals and teachers were critical support to Natalie and her students, and we thank them for their assistance throughout the residency.
For further information on applying for the Arts for ELL+SWD grant with Arts Horizons as a partner, please contact Dena Malarek at 201-567-1766 ext. 108 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for new applications and renewals is Friday, June 8!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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Mansa K. Mussa is a visual and performing artist, arts’ consultant, art’s educator and Arts Horizons teaching artist. A Newark, NJ native, Mussa earned a BA in Media Arts/Television Production from New Jersey City University. Traveling extensively in the United States, Cuba, West Africa, South Africa, Paris and the Caribbean, Mussa has had the opportunity to document human movement and events.
Some of his work includes: The Art of Dance; Cuba Diary: A Glimpse Inside the Hidden Republic; Eyewitness: The New South Africa; Ghana: An African Portrait; Pieces of a Dream/Nu Collage; and the historic Newark, A Day In the City Photo-Documentary. His art, photography and collage work has been featured in exhibits, print media, calendars, brochures and more.
Among his impressive body of work, he has worked with numerous students as an AH teaching artist. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “I love to teach because I love to learn.” said Manssa as he reflects on a summer residency. He continues, “Each opportunity gives me the chance to explore, to grow and to experience something a little different.” During a summer residency at Englewood Public Library, Manssa and students worked on a combination of portrait photography, mask-making, and collage. Some of the collage work can be found below
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Mansa Mussa’s next project is A Day in the Township Photo-Documentary. Mussa is apart of the West Orange Arts Council and in keeping with their mission to “cultivate the arts within our community,” the Council proposes a photo-documentary featuring face and places of the township during a twenty-four hour day in the fall of 2011. The concept is based on two similar projects; The Day in the Life of America and Newark: A Day in the City, both photo-documentary projects.
The project will utilize twenty-five local photographers to document community events, activities in the business sector, public and private schools, restaurants, hotels, parks and recreational facilities, houses of worships, historical sites, arts’ institutions and the township’s municipal departments. This sounds like another innovative project from Mansa Mussa. We here at Arts Horizons are excited to see the finished project.
N E W J E R S E Y
Arts Education Collective
A Special Evening of Networking and Community Building for NJ Teaching Artists
reception at 5:30 pm
~followed by an optional 7:30 pm performance
F.M. Kirby Carriage House
Paper Mill Playhouse
22 Brookside Drive
Millburn, NJ 07041
*To view the invitation click the link below