Arts Corps’ teaching artist Vicky Edmonds uses the art and practice of writing to bring the deepest and most authentic parts of ourselves to the page and to the world. Recently, she shared a piece of poetry with us, and we would like to share it with you.
During our staff retreat last year, we asked staff members to reflect on why they do this work, and what it means to them. We then asked them to write a poem that explains their love for it. This poem was her response.
To read more poetry by Vicky, visit her website here.
A few weeks ago, Arts Corps’ staff members embarked on a short journey to the land of tall trees, rocky rivers, and tree houses! Away from the hustle and bustle of Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, we were able to reconnect and recenter. We reflected on staff culture, social justice, hopes for the future, AND how to take over the world with art (naturally).
Our Education Director, Tina LaPadula, captured some great moments during and after our solo reflection walk, which was organized by our Creative Schools Initiative Program Manager, Hillary Moore. The walk gave us a chance to think about where we are as an organization and where we want to go. Enjoy!
A special thank you to our supporters at Treehouse Point for letting us use their beautiful space!
Arts Corps is thrilled to bring together the artists and performers of Love City Love, as it shines a bright light on those talented artists that are innovating the future of arts and culture in Seattle.
Love City Love is a breath of fresh, avant-garde air to Seattle’s arts and culture scene. It is “a name, a description, a slice of poetry…a wellspring of unselfconscious spontaneity and intentional good vibes,” according to a captivating article about the group in CityArts Magazine. The pop-up boutique showcases local designers, musicians, poets and various other art forms in one moving night of raw expression.
La Festa del Arte has been called the most inspiring event in the region and you can be part of it. Join Arts Corps efforts to address a critical opportunity gap in a region where race is the greatest determining factor in access to arts education. Help shape a new day for arts learning and be part of our work to develop students’ capacities for imagination, courage and persistence. Festa Parking & Directions.
Meet your friends and get your creativity flowing with cocktails and live music from “I’m with Amy” in the Showbox Lounge
Enjoy a gourmet dinner as Arts Corps students and teaching artists break barriers with their creative voices.
Step in and ‘raise your paddle’ to support transformative creativity and equity.
Get up and get down to live music and performance with the Love City Love Arts Collective.
From Denver to Seattle, to whatever city Brave New Voices finds its annual home, I’ve always loved being one voice in a chorus of youth shouting, “Youth right now are the truth right now!” This short chant, cheered at nearly every Youth Speaks Seattle open mic and slam, still rings electric in my throat when I yell it. To honor the expansiveness and power of youth art and movement might mean allowing “the next generation to speak for itself”. As someone who gets to witness visionary art and organizing from the YSS Spokes on a regular basis, this possibility feels… possible (fancy that). Even more, it feels creative, productive and revolutionary.
Yet, for many [adult-run] community organizations and spaces, adults struggle to envision how youth can take part in conversations about programs and services, even if they are the intended audience. Often, this is a result of ‘adultism’ (and how it interacts with racism, classism, ableism, sexism, homophobia and more), a term meaning the “prejudice and accompanying systematic discrimination against young people”. In an adult-defined world, youth don’t get much say in the systems they are forced to navigate, sometimes without support. Activist and youth worker Paul Kivel offers a more in-depth article about how adultism can play out: http://www.paulkivel.com/resources/articles/23-article/83-adultism
I’ve heard fellow youth organizers joke about how adults always say “Free Pizza!” as a way to entice youth to show up to programs that adults planned for them. While free pizza is definitely a legit reason to attend an event (this is not a request to stop offering free food – lets keep feeding youth), but why is that a main strategy for adults to engage youth? What would free pizza look like if we added youth collaboration and leadership to the menu?
I’m excited to live in a city where visionary youth-driven/led organizing has thrived. It’s been a tremendous learning experience to watch youth and adults negotiate how genuine youth leadership can take shape, beyond tokenization or lip service. From Seattle Young People’s Project and Queer Youth Space to YSS itself, there are some radical role models in town to push forward the conversation of youth-centric movements & orgs. (And of course, badass youth-driven orgs extend beyond Seattle, check out Fierce and Youth Speaks National, just to name a few…)
Coming up in the Denver Minor Disturbance Youth Poetry Slam, being a youth poet part of a larger youth movement was strengthened by amazing adult allies. Though I wasn’t using terms like ‘adultism’ and ‘ally’, I knew that my fierce mentors helped transform my agency and poetry by dedicating endless time and energy investing in youth poets. Slams were all ages and warmly intergenerational, with many bonds formed between youth and adults artists. Surely, many audience members thought, “Oh, those youth poets are so adorably angry!”, assuming our passion wasn’t to be taken seriously, seen as simply something we’d outgrow. But among the adult poets, we were given the chance to spit, share awe and even beat the grown ups. At the end of the day, the amount of magic that I felt my mentors possessed kept me coming back to them with trust and inspiration. They were the experts, the teachers, the wise elders that pushed me to find my own voice on the mic. Now, I see that they did not “have all the answers” but rather they asked me the right questions.
Now, as I begin to age out of my youth identity, I start to find myself on that other side of mentorship. What does it mean for me to grow into the role of a mentor? An adult ally to young folks? How can our communities be intergenerational and maintain a keen analysis of adultism and its intersecting oppressions? What does “youth-led” mean in practice? And where do adults and mentors fit in, with all of our varied experiences and identities? As a young person, I saw first hand exactly how transformative mentorship could be to young artists and activists. Accountable and intentional mentorship creates space for youth to work through thought processes, refine skills and gain support from adults. How do we bridge the gaps between youth leadership and adult support in sustainable, critical and genuine ways?
If you’ve got answers, half-answers, brainstorms, pushback, questions or resources, please drop me a line to continue the conversation, at email@example.com
It’s time to dust off your roller skates and pull out your costumes! Arts Corps is gearing up for its second annual skate-stravaganza fundraiser, Rollathon 2014.
We will celebrate our fund-and-friend raising at the Rollathon on February 9, 5:00 – 7:00pm at the Southgate Roller Rink. Tickets will be available at the door ($10 each) for non-team members.
Here are 4 quick reasons to get involved:
Community-Based Creativity: The skills we build through arts education are relevant in all areas of our life: imagination, critical thinking, risk-taking, persistence, reflection, and beyond!
Racial Justice & Arts Education: Our programs focus on educating and empowering young people, especially working-class youth of color, to directly address the racial disparities in access to arts education. Arts access is deeply connected to broader struggles for education reform and youth liberation.
Fun! – raiser: This event is going to be way fun and silly. There are costumes, prizes, roller-skating, team themes and more. What more could you need?
Grassroots Fundraising: Through creative fundraising, we are making this work sustainable and rooted in our values.
Last year’s event was an overwhelming success, so we decided to increase our fundraising goal to $15,000. This means we need YOU and all of YOUR FRIENDS to help us achieve this goal. All proceeds will directly benefit Arts Corps’ teen programs.
This is a one-of-a-kind event that you will be talking about all year. The best part… you’ll be part of a large community of people working to make a positive impact on the lives of young people throughout Seattle. That impact would be impossible without ALL of our friends, family members, neighbors and donors.
Are you ready to sign up, and earn the title of “fundraising extraordinaire”? It takes a few easy steps… go here to sign up. If you need help navigating Crowdrise, visit our directions page here.
Stay tuned throughout the next few weeks for skate related inspiration, costume guides and more reasons to get involved in the Rollathon 2014.
New to slam poetry or need a refresher? Shelby Handler, Youth Speaks Seattle co-coordinator, shares some thoughts on slam history and the slam experience as they gear up for the first Youth Speaks Seattle slam on December 20th (this Friday) at Harambee, 316 S. 3rd St., Renton, WA, 6:30 – 9:30 pm. (youth poets should sign up at 6 pm to slam)
Q. What are poetry slams and how did they develop?
A. Poetry Slams are competitive poetry events where 5 randomly selected judges score poets on a scale from 0 to 10 (using decimals). Sounds weird, right? You might be wondering: why would we score poems that are often deeply personal, raw, dynamic, beautiful and honest?
And that is the trick of the slam: it’s a game. The game is the gimmick that gets folks in the seats, gets folks together, listening to poetry. Ha! It’s all a big trick. For Youth Speaks Seattle, the competition is fun and always full of LOVE! These poets are AMAZING, let’s be real, but they are also there to support one another and grow from being in community with other young poets. With that balance in mind, we like to chant at slams: The point is not the points, the point is the POETRY!
If you attend Friday’s slam, you’ll hear this spiel from the hosts, which the brief history slam recited at most events: Slam was invented in Chicago, in the 80s, by a construction worker named Marc Smith who was tired of going to boring poetry readings where the audience wasn’t engaged in the performance. Slam was a way of giving poetry back to the people and creating a conversation between poet & listener.
Q. What does a typical poetry slam look, sound and feel like?
A. A typical slam with Youth Speaks Seattle feels like a cauldron of buzzing nervous energy, home, love, joy, talent, risk taking, spirit, history & hella youth power. If that makes any sense. They are often raucous events where the audience is snapping, stomping, yelling, MMMM-ing along with the poet to give them feedback & energy as they perform their heart out. They feel like a journey. Between so many fabulous poets and audiences that are right beside them as they go *there* with hilarity, sadness, truth & resistance. But to truly know the YSS magic: ATTEND A SLAM!
Q. What can people expect to experience if they attend the Youth Speaks Seattle poetry slam on Friday?
A. People can expect to be blown away, humbled, surprised, challenged, inspired, impressed, welcomed and strengthened by the voices of youth who can speak for themselves. These youth are not messing around. One thing you can expect is to hear the following chant: YOUTH RIGHT NOW ARE THE TRUTH RIGHT NOW! Cause that is what Youth Speaks is all about – honoring new generations of artists & change makers!
Want to know more? Check out this video of Seattle 2013 slam team member Hamda at the 2013 Youth Speaks Seattle Grand Slam.
Please give a big Arts Corps welcome to Omana Imani!
Dear Arts Corps Community,
I am very excited to introduce Arts Corps’ new Program Director, Omana Imani. Omana brings great expertise in youth development, social justice and program evaluation, as well as experience in growing a powerful program to scale. I have no doubt she will be another transformative figure at Arts Corps, and we are so grateful to have her on our team.
Omana is originally from the Bay Area and recently moved to Seattle. With over twenty years experience working in community non-profit services, she most recently served as the Deputy Director for Youth UpRising in East Oakland, CA. As the Deputy Director, Omana was responsible for managing the organization’s programs and staff, forging community partnerships, and helping to lead organizational operations overall. Prior to joining Youth Uprising in 2005, she was the Director for Underground Railroad, a community based organization dedicated to developing the political analysis and artistic skills of young people in the Bay Area.
A message from Omana: I am so excited to be working with Arts Corps! It’s an honor to be part of such a dedicated team of artists, community workers and partners striving to create possibility for young people. I look forward to working with the team to drive forward our goals of: increasing access to high quality arts classes to students who otherwise would not have it, developing young people’s skills and imagination, and providing safe and fun spaces for youth to create visions for their lives and the world. It is the visions of young people which have always given me so much hope for what is possible. – Omana
Teaching Artists and Classroom Assistants are invaluable members of the Arts Corps community. They contribute their time, energy and creative minds in so many different ways. Without them we would be lost. Each month, we will feature a Teaching Artist or Classroom Assistant from the Arts Corps community, and invite them to share their experiences, sources of inspiration, and thoughts on social justice. Do you have a pad of paper available? Because you’ll want to take notes!
Meet Teaching Artist Mylen Huggins! Mylen Huggins believes that the arts are an essential part of becoming an educated person. She’s a visual artist, an arts advocate, coordinator, collaborator, facilitator, volunteer; her passion to bring more arts into schools resulted in the development of a thriving arts program at a neighborhood Seattle Public School that began in 2009. She’s been teaching visual arts to young learners since her earliest days at Seattle Children’s Museum in 1996. Since then, Mylen has facilitated various art-making workshops and classes from preschool cooperatives, to after-school programs, art camps and currently at elementary schools. Mylen has exhibited paintings in different venues around Seattle. As an artist, she is greatly inspired by and thrives on the super-art powers and creativity that comes from her collaborative work with students.
What inspired you to become a Teaching Artist? Actually, teaching found me. When my sons were in cooperative preschool, I always volunteered to organize the art activities – making props, creating masks, painting, sculpture, construction, whatever visual sensory activity and tactile projects the teacher needed help with. The best part of the whole experience was being a part of the wonderment and awe that children expressed when they discovered that they have just created art with their own two hands, conceived from their very own self, always blew me away. Or when I helped them realize something has always been there, like the color of shadows, or that objects when looked at from a certain light has a shady side or when they realize that writing their name is a form of drawing, and that all along, they have super artistic powers…it is so inspiring to be a part of that discovery and that building of confidence is for lack of a better expression, AMAZING!
What project(s) are you working on with youth right now? At Southern Heights Elementary School, a K-5 school without art instruction for the past 4 years, I worked with the teachers and principal to develop a curriculum that introduces and explores the fundamental language of visual art. The students learned that there’s not a day without line; that texture is the smoothness of their skin to the rough feel of the rug they sit on for story time, that green can be made by mixing blue and yellow, etc. Southern Heights students are courageous, they are trying new things, they realize that imagination and creativity is always a part of them.
In addition to Southern Heights, I am also working with a group of Kindergarten and 1st grade students at Madrona Elementary School. I designed a curriculum around books that are fun, visually engaging, familiar perhaps and hoping that it would generate a visual narrative as a collage, a line drawing, a textured painting, or as a portrait. One of the first books I read to the students was Swimmy by Leo Leoni and then we used stamping inks and markers to create thumbprint fish. One student created three-dimensional eels by accordion folding paper and drawing in eyes, others combined stamping ink and markers to create their fish. My initial plan was to have the kids glue all their fish into the shape of another big fish, just like the story, but before I made the suggestion, the eel designer exclaimed, “We should make a school of fish!!” Brilliant, I thought. I ripped a huge sheet of blue paper, laid it out on the floor and handed out scissors and glue sticks and there on the floor was a school of kids creating a school of fish. Collaboration in action!
What do you feel is most important about the mission and work of Arts Corps? I’ve been an independent teaching artist since 2009, a volunteer art docent since 2003 and advocate for the arts for as long as I can remember. I am a passionate supporter of bringing more art into public schools – a belief that I share with Arts Corps. I am so honored to be a teaching artists for Arts Corps because I am fulfilling what I feel is my civic duty of bringing quality, high art education to school children, especially those who are underserved.
How do you incorporate social justice into your teaching? Each student contributes to a community agreement that every one has to abide by in order to create a safe, supportive and collaborative environment. At the end of each lesson or session, we take the time to reflect on individual work or group work and provide encouraging and supportive words to make each person feel confident and successful about their work and themselves. I also make sure that the classroom teacher is included in our discussion and activities, the experience that occurs during art lessons is not just for the students, but also for the classroom teachers.
To view some of Mylen’s personal artwork, visit her website.
One of my favorite things about working with students is when my magical arts educator eyes can see the gears in their brains linking and turning. Since working at Orca, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about learning styles, what an interactive and dynamic classroom looks, sounds, and feels like, and how to ask students the right questions to most enrich their learning process.
The seventh graders at Orca have been learning about storytelling as it relates to Native Americans- both by them and about them. Keeping both storytelling and learning processes in mind, I helped develop a Native American Unit Project. Seeing it come alive through students’ imaginations has been a rewarding process for me. As a graphic design major in college, I learned the importance of creating several drafts, going through critique, and reworking my ideas accordingly. Since working with Nate Herth and Donte Felder, I have learned a great deal about the importance of a similar idea in education: “iterations” in the learning process. Each Tuesday and Thursday is a chance for me to see students struggle and start over, create and make mistakes, imagine and build. I see the gears of creativity churning, connecting, and pushing each other forward.
I am often asked how art teaches critical thinking, risk taking, or persistence. Perhaps persistence is the most obvious: one must play scales in all keys to master the jazz number, sketch in numerous notebooks to see doodles transform into drawings, or start daily free writing for years before a poetry slam or open mic.
Critical Thinking and Risk Taking are harder to explain. My seventh graders, however, have shown me myriad examples:
As I have become more oriented to Madrona K-8, more opportunities have arisen for arts learning to permeate the classrooms. This month, fellow teaching artist Laura O’Quin and I introduced a button-making activity in the middle school social studies class.
The students had watched the documentary film Promises, which imparted the perspectives of children living in Israel on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and were assigned characters from the film to embody for the rest of the unit. Embody in terms of thinking like their character, writing in the voice of their character, and gaining an enriched understanding of their character’s perspective. To culminate the end of the unit and forge higher levels of creative thinking, we challenged students to represent their character through symbols.
I have also been observing the music classroom, thinking about ways to deepen the connection between music performance and my own art form, audio production. I was given the opportunity to teach an entire day of music classes – ranging from Kindergarten to middle school. I brought in my VoiceLive Touch 2, a vocal effects processor and looper, to introduce audio effects and the most important skill in audio engineering – critical listening.
With the younger grades, I focused on asking the question “what do you hear?” and was impressed by some of the articulate descriptors used by students at all grade levels throughout the day. Students in every class were able to speak into the microphone and hear the effects processing on their voice.
For the middle school, I expanded this lesson by playing some contemporary music examples and letting a discussion formulate around what they heard and their musical impressions about the use of effects in music.
I hope to collaborate with the music teacher on more music-theory-meets-music-technology lesson plans and will be working on a residency with a second grade classroom to integrate audio arts into their current studies.
Many more arts and music-based learning opportunities await Madrona students this year. Stay tuned!
*Amy Piñon is one of our talented AmeriCorps Artist-In-Residence and teaches as part of our Creative Schools Initiative (CSI). Read more about CSI here.