City building at Mount View Elementary

I moved to Seattle eight years ago intending to dive fully into the city’s culture. I’ve wandered the halls of 619 Western Ave during art walks and cheered on slam poets late into the night. I’ve learned to effortlessly distribute waste/recycles/compost into each appropriate bin. I make my own kombucha and am pretentious about coffee […]

I moved to Seattle eight years ago intending to dive fully into the city’s culture. I’ve wandered the halls of 619 Western Ave during art walks and cheered on slam poets late into the night. I’ve learned to effortlessly distribute waste/recycles/compost into each appropriate bin. I make my own kombucha and am pretentious about coffee with the best of them. Weather does not deter my outdoor activities and of course I don’t use an umbrella.

I came to Seattle for much more than sipping lattes though.

I came to contribute to and see this city reach its full potential for greatness. At some point along the way, I decided that I wanted to do more than be an artist in my own right; I felt compelled to seek out opportunities for all youth in the city to engage in the arts. Arts had shaped my youth and my life in Seattle, and I wanted to see these opportunities made available to the generations behind me. Thus working with Arts Corps to teach ceramics at Mount View Elementary (within the greater Seattle area) has been such an honor and so fulfilling.

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Today our class wrapped up the City Building project that we spent much of Winter quarter working on. Students had collaborated and used various ceramic techniques to construct businesses, a zoo, a hospital, homes, parks, a soccer field, a transportation systems (and yes, our city had two coffeeshops). They saw the culmination of their hard work as they combined individual pieces into one collective city, choosing where to place each piece of the city and drawing roads connecting each piece to the others. As they stepped back, they saw how their individual contributions added to something so much larger.

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I was really excited about this project because it not only allowed the students to use all the ceramic techniques we had thus far learned, but the project also required the students to dream into and then create a city as they would build it. My hope was that the project would empower the students to think of themselves as significant contributors to their community!… That they are culture shapers!… That anything is possible!

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Today was also my last day as a resident of Seattle. Tomorrow I move to San Francisco to join the Exploratorium’s Extended Learning team, where I’ll continue to create opportunities for people of all ages to engage in curiosity, creativity, and possibility. I’ll surely immerse myself into that city just like I’ve done here, but as I leave, I’m hopeful that something lasting has been planted here in Seattle. More than a few skills in ceramics, my hope is that I’m leaving these students with a greater sense of their potential, both as artists and as contributors to their world.

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With all that Seattle has to offer (and yes, today was sunny and 70), I cannot think of a better way to have spent my last afternoon in this city than investing into these budding artists, moreover, young culture shapers.

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Meet Teaching Artist Mylen Huggins!

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, […]

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!

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

*Photographs by Mylen Huggins.

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Art as a Voice for Social Change.

Approaching Amazing Art is the title to a brand new curriculum being tested at Cleveland HS. Its a humanities curriculum that explores the power of art in Social Movements.  As teaching artists at Cleveland we’ve been invited to help deepen the curriculum. Culminating the unit each student will complete the following project: 1. Create a work of […]

Approaching Amazing Art is the title to a brand new curriculum being tested at Cleveland HS. Its a humanities curriculum that explores the power of art in Social Movements.  As teaching artists at Cleveland we’ve been invited to help deepen the curriculum.

Culminating the unit each student will complete the following project:
1. Create a work of art that has a message or makes a difference.
2. Make a video documenting the experience of envisioning, designing, creating, and performing or displaying the piece,
3. Write an artist statement to accompany the piece.”

A group of students have stepped up to help create an gallery event for their fellow students to show their work at school and in the community. They are passionate about sharing their ideas and opinions and we are excited to help them make it possible!

In preparation of their curriculum that is beginning in May we’re bringing them workshops of various mediums. Starting with Collage this week, we invited students to piece together images and words to create a message they are passionate about.

 

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It was exhilarating to watch students approach the art table with apprehension and self doubt and leave the table with a fully assembled piece confronting real social issues. Each student posted their work in the hallway with a statement explaining what they wished to communicate through this medium.

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A hallway passerby will notice powerful social issues being challenged with powerful images, such as ageism, racism paired with sexism, environmentalism, our dependency on technology and much more. The images are chilling and moving.

 

It was a honor to be in a room with such bold thinkers and daring risk takers!

More Pictures will be posted soon. Stay in Touch!

 

Thank you,

Jaala Smith

 

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Bring on the Funk…Power of Words at the Northwest African American Museum

This blog was written by guest contributor Stephanie Johnson-Toliver, Program Director of the Northwest African American Museum’s Dr. Carver Gayton Youth Curator Program (pictured below second from the right).  Daemond Arrindell and Arts Corps are totally hip in the opinion of the Northwest African American Museum 2012 Youth Curators…count me in too.  The Dr. Carver Gayton Youth […]

This blog was written by guest contributor Stephanie Johnson-Toliver, Program Director of the Northwest African American Museum’s Dr. Carver Gayton Youth Curator Program (pictured below second from the right). 

Daemond Arrindell and Arts Corps are totally hip in the opinion of the Northwest African American Museum 2012 Youth Curators…count me in too.  The Dr. Carver Gayton Youth Curator Program at NAAM is a community outreach program targeting teens age 14-18yrs old.  Teens join a team for twelve 2-hour sessions to explore museum philosophy and develop their creative abilities as they complete a themed project that coincides with a current gallery exhibition.

The 2012 project and exhibition, First Impressions – Inner Expressions was all about self-awareness and articulating the discoveries. Daemond led the Youth Curators in a series of exercises, inspired by the exhibition Xenobia Bailey: The Aesthetics of Funk.  Throughout this process, creative writing skills and individual expression evolved into the power of spoken words…heartfelt, questioning, passionate and humorous…all encouraged by Daemond.


The Youth Curators presented their exhibition and poetry to a full house on April 7th.  In the crowd was Kathleen Flenniken, WA State Poet Laureate, who called their poetry “gold”.  Kathleen supports young poets and has already posted two of the poems to her blog, The Far Field with more to follow.  Youth In Focus, captured photo portraits of each Youth Curator for the gallery exhibition, thank you Sherry Loeser with student photographers, Duyen and Jennifer.

You can check out this fabulous exhibit that attributes much of the success to Daemond with support of Arts Corps; I look forward to a long and lasting friendship with both.  The First Impressions – Inner Expressions exhibition is on view through Summer, 2012. Visit the NAAM website for hours and events (www.naamnw.org).

A huge thanks to all at Arts Corps…your fan for life,

Stephanie

 

Stephanie Johnson-Toliver, Program Director

NAAM Dr. Carver Gayton Youth Curator Program

 

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Exploration in Art, Part 1

We catch up with Teaching Artist Lauren Atkinson who stopped by the Arts Corps office to show off some recent drawings by young artists in her “Exploration in Art” class.  Stay tuned to meet the young artists working in her class!    

We catch up with Teaching Artist Lauren Atkinson who stopped by the Arts Corps office to show off some recent drawings by young artists in her “Exploration in Art” class.  Stay tuned to meet the young artists working in her class!

Cityscape drawing by Jacob, a young artist in Arts Corps' Exploration in Art Class with Teaching Artist Lauren Atkinson

 

 

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Graphic Novels On Stage

The most contact [my students] expected to have with the public was maybe somebody reading their printed comic book. And here I was asking them to stand on stage at the Broadway Performance Hall and show their work to a live audience at Arts Corps’ Showcase event for 2011. And it was a packed house!

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I couldn’t blame my students for being nervous. Being young “graphic novelists”, they’re naturally introverts (for the most part). They sit at tables in a classroom two days a week and design characters, think up stories, and draw comics. The most contact they expected to have with the public was maybe somebody reading their printed comic book. And here I was asking them to stand on stage at the Broadway Performance Hall and show their work to a live audience at Arts Corps’ Showcase event for 2011. And it was a packed house!

How did we show off the work of young graphic novelists at a performance event? Thanks to a program called Powerpoint (which is usually thought of as projecting endless pie charts to bored executives), we were able to project images of the students’ art, bigger than life, on the screen. My students gathered on stage (with no little anxiety) and we talked about what was being shown.

I gave them the option of talking into the handheld mic, or letting me talk about their work. Out of six students, two were willing to talk to the audience, which was really quite brave. Keep in mind that these are third, fourth, and fifth graders.

The most talkative of the students not only talked about his comics (an adventure story set in WWII), but told the audience how much he looked forward to the after-school graphic novel class because it was the one time during the week when he was able to draw. I was not expecting to hear this. I assured the audience, with a smile, that he had not been coaxed into saying it. And inside I felt really glad that I’m a teaching artist.

See a selection of my students’ work here:

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