What interested you in becoming an intern at AFA? How did you get involved?
AH: Throughout most of my adult life, my passions have always focused on my dedication to promoting the accessibility of the arts. This passion not only originates from my own art making practices but from my experience with the organization, Tape Art. With Tape Art, I facilitated numerous art projects including the construction of life-sized tape murals. Typically we drew in schools and hospitals to foster education as well as healing. While working with underprivileged teens, in conjunction with Tape Art, I witnessed the transformative and positive effects art-making had on the youth that participated. I watched how these teenagers began to work in tandem, solve problems, and learn about their work habits. This was a turning point for me, as I decided that I wanted to pursue increasing the awareness and the accessibility of the arts.
These passions are what drew me to AFA! Since September, I have volunteered on AFA’s Fundraising Committee. The Committee has been fabulous, but I wanted to be more involved. Anna and I thought that a managerial and development internship would be a fabulous fit for both the organization and myself!
What’s your own artistic background? Are you currently an artist?
AH: I have been practicing art since I can remember. We have a family joke about a painting I did when I was three. My grandmother fell in love with it, so we framed it and gave it to her for a present. A friend of hers saw it and exclaimed, “Oh my, you have a Motherwell!” My grandmother didn’t have the heart to tell her friend that it was her three old granddaughter’s finger painting.
During high school, I was lucky enough to attend a couple of pre-college programs and classes to widen my interests. I also did a fair bit of set design as well as painting and drawing in high school. When I went to college, it was a very difficult decision to either just stick with art and go to RISD or go the liberal arts route at Smith College. I went with the liberal arts route and have been relatively happy with my choice.
At Smith, I concentrated in painting but also created large-scale installations, films, and photography. Upon graduating in 2010, I was able to continue producing my own artwork and also took on a few other artistic endeavors as well. I developed and produced a free town-wide drawing festival in Northampton, MA and designed and built a 300 square foot performance art space on a CSA farm in Amherst, MA.
Ultimately, I tend to fall in and out of making work. My last show was in January/February of 2013. Since I just moved to the city in June of 2013, I am still trying to figure out how to make work on the scale that I would like to practice without completely destroying my apartment or my health. J
You can check out my work here: www.abhill.com
You’re currently in graduate school. What are you studying? What are your plans for after you graduate?
AH: I am currently in enrolled at the New School. I am studying nonprofit management and hope to concentrate in Community Activism and Engagement. After I graduate, I would love to stick around New York City. Either administratively or out in the field, my dreams and plans while in school and after I graduate revolve around community engagement. I hope to become an entity that can empower a community through collaborative art-making.
What do you hope to gain from your internship at AFA? What are you most excited to work on while you are here?
I hope to learn more about the inner workings of AFA. I am most excited to visit the classes and meet some of the students who have been able to partake in our programs. I also looking forward to meeting more of our teaching artists and perhaps even learning a few tricks of the trade!
What’s your favorite art form? Do you have a favorite artist or piece of art?
AH: As I am sure most people say, a favorite piece of work is so hard to pick! Most recently a good friend turned me on to the sheer beauty, immensity, and detailed nuances of Géricault’s Raft of Medusa. So for now, I’ll say that that is one of my favorite pieces. I have also been visiting the MET a lot and was completely blown away by the Arms and Amory section.
Some of my favorite painters are Cecily Brown, Dana Schutz, and Antonio Garcia Lopez.
By Julie DeVito, AFA Intern.
Arts For All spring programming has begun with exciting classes and workshops happening around New York City and in Chicago.
Literacy Through the Arts programming has already begun with Teaching Artists Lena Moy Borgen, Robin Cannon, Marissa Wolf, and Shawn Shafner.Lena’s LTA classes are currently doing a production of The Paper Bag Princess. They are making sets and costumes and will perform in front of their families and peers this month. After the performance, they will begin book-based projects based on Mo Willem’s Knuffle Bunny Too.
Students in a recent LTA class.
At Arts For All Chicago, a creative writing program is underway at Hammond Elementary School, taught by Teaching Artist Stacey Hall.
In the fall, we were fortunate to host a haiku workshop thanks to a generous donation from Amy Losak. We will be continuing the visual arts and haiku program in the spring, taught by Teaching Artists Shawn Shafner and Vidho Lorville and will be adding a music and haiku workshop under teaching artists Darian Dauchan and Robin Cannon.
A example of student artwork from the Haiku and Visual Arts program.
This season we are thrilled to bring back some favorite programs. One program is “Step Right Up,” taught by artists Bonnie Pipkin and Mary Meyer, where high school students will create an original performance piece including sets, costumes, scripts, marketing materials, and more! Teaching Artists Melissa Smith and Darian Dauchan will be doing a Creative Works program with New Alternatives for Children where students with disabilities too will create their own performance pieces. Teaching Artist Franklyn Strachan will also be teaching a film documentary course at Incarnation Children’s Center, a center for children living with HIV and AIDS.
We will also be continuing our Artistic Residency programs at PS69 in Staten Island, Weeksville Elementary in Brooklyn, PS 163 in the Bronx, Children’s Village in Westchester, and with SoBro in the Bronx.
Stay tuned to the blog for more in depth entries on our new programming, interviews with teaching artists, and more!
Did you know that Arts For All has a branch in Chicago? Find out more in this interview with AFA Chicago Founder and Program Manager, Cara Winter.
What’s your artistic background?
CW:I became interested in theater at the age of 15, when I was cast as the lead in my high school musical. After that, I began studying voice privately, singing in competitions, and (thanks at first to my grandmother’s funding, and subsequently a scholarship), I attended Interlochen Arts Camp for two summers. By the end of my first summer at Interlochen, I knew that I wanted to pursue theater as a career. I began auditioning for all the major musical theater training programs in the U.S., and the following spring I was accepted by New York University Tisch School of the Arts’ UG Drama department, and was awarded the Trustee Scholarship. So, at 18 years of age, I moved from my small town of Kalamazoo, MI to New York City.
At NYU, I studied Musical Theater for two years at CAP21, followed by two years of classical training at The Classical Studio. Upon graduating in 1997, I began directing and producing alongside some of the incredible visionaries who dominated the Lower East Side theater scene of the day. In 2000, I landed both my first Equity acting internship at Maine State Music Theater, and my first professional gig at the Great American Melodrama in California. I’ve worked professionally as an actress, director, producer, and playwright ever since.
While I do still perform occasionally, I’ve spent the past six years focusing mainly on writing. In addition to having some success with my work for the stage, I’ve also started writing for the screen. Last year I placed in the Quarterfinals of Final Draft’s Big Break screenwriting competition, and then won TV Writer’s Spec Scriptacular (1st Place, Drama) with my spec teleplay “THE NEWSROOM: Brothers in Arms”. I’m currently developing a couple plays, a couple screenplays, and now I’m working with a manager to sell a TV pilot.
How did you initially get involved with Arts For All?
I met Anna through her husband Alan, who I’d worked with on a production of The Merchant of Venice. I was impressed by Anna’s dedication to serving children through Arts For All, and became a general supporter, sending in a donation to AFA whenever I could, keeping up with its progress via e-blasts, etc. But I didn’t actually get involved myself with Arts For All until after I’d moved to Chicago.
Pictured below: Damon Lamar Reed & student working on the mural installation at Libby Elementary.
Photo credit: Photo by C. Jason Brown
I moved from NYC to Chicago in 2008, just as Chicago Public Schools had announced their Arts budget had been decimated. So pretty much right away, I knew I wanted to help bring the Arts to kids in need in Chicago. In 2009, I approached Anna about starting a Chicago pilot program, which I’d organize and teach; she brought the idea to the Board, they agreed, and AFA Chicago was born!
We raised almost $2,000 for a residency called “Shakespeare For All” where I taught Shakespeare-in-performance to a group of 5th graders in a struggling South Side public school. At the end of my residency, the students presented a 45-minute abridged version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest to a small audience of fellow students, staff and parents. The kids had a blast, learned a lot about Shakespeare, as well as how each and every person is crucial to “putting on a play.”
Who are the other people involved in AFA Chicago ( teaching artists, interns,etc)
In 2009, there was just one other person working on Arts For All Chicago – Lisa Dellagiarino – who was awesome, but has since moved on to other projects. So right now it’s just me, and a handful of amazing Teaching Artists.
What programs are currently running? Are you currently teaching?
Last year we focused a great deal of energy on two large-scale projects: a “Day of Art” at a South Side youth center where a group of Teaching Artists taught a rotating group of about 75 kids; and the installation of a beautiful outdoor mural at Libby Elementary, all student-designed and painted during workshops led by professional muralist Damon Lamar Reed.
This year, we have continued our ongoing residency, Creative Writing at Hammond Elementary, taught by our tirelessly creative and energetic Stacey Hall. In addition, we have had requests from two other schools for programming, so we’re working on getting those projects implemented.
While I’ve really shifted my focus to fundraising & programming, I did teach Creative Writing for a semester last year, which was a lot of fun. During the semester, we talked a lot about screenplays and stage plays, focusing on “Archetypes, not Stereotypes”, which the kids really got into. Young people are exposed (over-exposed, if you ask me) to so many negative stereotypes… so it was fun for them to pick those apart, and hold them up against classical Archetypes, and talk about which ones were more universal, dramatic, positive, hopeful, etc.
What’s a highlight or a favorite story from your time running AFA Chicago?
To me, a “troubled” child is often a child who needs something different than a standard curriculum and a sit-down, be-quiet classroom. In many cases, a troubled child (who maybe has an instable home life, a learning disability, etc) will misbehave, or act out, because their needs as a whole person just aren’t being met. And so many, for absolutely no fault of their own, are tagged early on as “trouble”… and this label can follow them around for the rest of their lives.
After the “Shakespeare for All” performance, the Principal took me aside, and told me that many of my students had been in and out of trouble since Kindergarten. She confided that after the performance, she was seeing these troubled kids “in a new light.” I still get choked up, thinking about that moment. I suddenly realized that making a change in a young person’s life was actually possible. Making a difference… was possible. Not just possible, but happening, and I’d been a part of that. It blew my mind, and at the same time reinforced the importance of what I was trying to do.
What’s coming up in 2014 for AFA Chicago?
In 2014, we are thrilled to be continuing with Creative Writing at Hammond, and I’m in the planning stages of implementing a Drama workshop at McCormick Elementary (another low-income school on the South Side), as well as a few other small projects.
Are you currently seeking volunteers?
Yes! We are seeking a volunteer to help Stacey with Creative Writing at Hammond from time to time, plus we’re seeking volunteers with Theater backgrounds to help with the Drama workshop at McCormick Elementary (once it’s up and running). We’re also looking for a Visual Artist who might want to mentor the Gage Park High School’s Art Club, a few hours a month!
Thanks to the enthusiastic support of our donors and $2,400 award from Global Giving, Arts For All was able to provide free follow-up workshop to complement our Audience Project tour of “Pinocchio.” These workshops further explored themes presented in the play such as teamwork, learning right from wrong and the importance of family.
Here’s a picture of students creating a back drop for a theatrical performance.
This year, Arts For All was awarded funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Everyone at AFA is looking forward to 2014 and another great year of programming!
This fall, Arts For All was thrilled to collaborate with Amy Losak, a Senior Vice President at Ketchum Public Relations in New York, on a new program for second graders at P.S 163 in the Bronx which brought to colorful life the lyrical poetic legacy of Amy’s late mother, Sydell Rosenberg, a public school teacher, ESL teacher and published American haiku poet who lived in New York City.
Arts For All Teaching Artist Vidho Lorville led six visual arts workshops that used several of Ms. Rosenberg’s haiku as teaching tools. Under his instruction, the students painted charming landscapes inspired by the short poems. They then pasted on the haiku animal characters which were colored with crayons, cut out and applied to the scenic backgrounds they had painted. Teaching artist Shawn Shafner, who presided with Vidho over the first and final workshops in the series, also helped facilitate the children’s understanding of haiku, telling them that they should try to “see” poetry everywhere, even in the small moments around them, and make art from those moments.
Here’s a piece of student artwork from the workshops.
Following are the haiku which Vidho selected for the workshops:
Prodding a fall leaf
after the rain – sparrow
in a new puddle.
crosses the street for better prey –-
suburban lunch hour.
Against the blue sky
a green parrot
on a dead branch.
Crossing the wide sky
a blue jay is held briefly
in the window square.
For a moment one
circling round each other –
two white butterflies.
When the sun came out
my turtle climbed on a rock
and conjured a view.
the cat sits in the fur ring
of his tail, and dreams.
In a quiet cove
ducks abandon their formation
swimming after bread.
“It has been a delight and an honor to work with Arts For All and PS 163 on this lovely program. The kids were so involved and many of them were very focused. I think they had fun while they were learning about how simple words can lead to visual thinking and artistic expression. I believe that poetry and art paired together can deepen children’s appreciation of wordplay, language and the visual richness of the world around them. I also had a great time reading my mom’s haiku. I acted them out, almost like little plays. I hope the kids enjoyed this!” Amy Losak
Dry leaves falling on the floor
Crackling like an egg
Is getting wet by the rain
Beautiful it is.
Star gazer lilies
Pollen falling on my hand
Feels so very soft