Posts Tagged With: arts education

From Kentucky to the Capital: Kentucky’s contribution to the National Christmas Tree

Baker Hunt Art and Cultural Center staff members Rosemary Topie and Teresa McDannold were getting ready to travel to Washington, D.C., last week to attend the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, but ice and snow never make for good traveling conditions. Disappointed, they had to cancel their trip. Representing the state of Kentucky, 24 of the Christmas tree ornaments were created at Baker Hunt Art and Cultural Center.

Located in Covington, Baker Hunt is a unique arts center. Spread out across five buildings, the 3.5 acres were donated by Margaretta Baker Hunt in 1922 to “encourage the study of art, education and science and to promote the good works of religion in Covington.”

The Kentucky Arts Council connects artists and schools each year to create ornaments for the National Park Foundation’s Christmas Tree Project.  When asked who I thought would make a good arts partner, I immediately thought of Baker Hunt. I have spent many afternoons taking mosaic classes with my daughter, as well as going to meetings and attending arts and cultural events there.

Students, age 6 to 12, from two sections of the Lil Rembrandts class, created the ornaments under the direction of Chad Turner and Judy Sander. One class chose to study the state of Kentucky’s symbols. The other focused on making collages from photos of our national parks. The class that worked on the symbols, such as the state tree, bird and butterfly used Model Magic. The other class used acrylic paint.

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Photo used with permission of Baker Hunt Cultural Center.

While Rosemary and Teresa did not travel to the ceremony, they did get together with the group to celebrate the project. Here are a few of the photographs of the students and their ornaments now hanging on the National Christmas Tree.

Jean St. John, arts education director

Categories: Arts Education | Tags: , , , , , , ,

2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts: Oakley and Eva Farris

This is the ninth and final entry in our 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts blog series. I hope you have enjoyed reading these interviews as much as I enjoyed conducting them. Thank you for your shares, comments, re-blogs, Tweets and Facebook posts. Each of the nine recipients — whether a business, arts organization or individual — offers a unique perspective on participating in the arts in Kentucky. I am proud to have met each and every one of the individuals who will receive awards during today’s ceremony.

Our final interview is with the 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts Milner Award recipients. You’ll notice the plural there as this year’s recipients are a married couple, Oakley and Eva Farris of Covington.

The Milner Award is considered the most prestigious of the nine Governor’s Awards. It was established in 1977 in honor of B. Hudson Milner, a Louisville utility executive and civic leader, whose contributions to the arts in Kentucky remain important to this day. The Milner Award is presented to Kentucky residents or organizations located in Kentucky for outstanding philanthropic, artistic or other contributions to the arts.

I have to tell you, sitting down with the Farrises made for a delightful afternoon. Oakley and Eva Farris spent their lives together as business partners. Mr. Farris is a native of Kentucky. Mrs. Farris is from Cuba. They met in Florida and married thereafter. I asked how long they had been together. Mr. Farris would only say, “We’ve been married several years. Honestly, we have been.”

Mr. Farris spent his professional life as a traveling salesman — one who never took up driving, I might add. Mrs. Farris, who has a degree in business, supported Mr. Farris as his partner every step of the way. “She gives me a suggestion and I jump,” he said of their professional life together.

Schools, arts organizations, civic organizations, museums and libraries are just a few of the types of institutions supported by the Farrises. They have generously invested in Northern Kentucky University, The Carnegie Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, and the Behringer-Crawford Museum, to name a few. And isn’t “invested” an interesting way to describe giving? I thought so, too. You’ll not have to read far to learn why.

Again, congratulations to all nine recipients of the 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts. The awards will be televised on KET and KETKY in the coming month. You can find a schedule at the bottom of this post.

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How did you come to be philanthropists for the arts?

Oakley Farris: We’re not philanthropists. Period. We don’t give money away. We invest in our community, and we expect a return. In my mind’s eye that word denotes some big shot giving his money away and that’s not for us.

Tell me about your support for the arts.

Oakley Farris: How do you describe art? I dare say the majority of people would think of art like behind you, that beautiful picture. But you know, art comes in many forms. Art can be a book. It can be a good-looking woman with beautiful lines. Or a beat up Coca-Cola bottle or a can. It’s true. That’s part of art. And I’ve said for years art is an integral part of our education system. Unfortunately art has been taken out of many of our schools. Correct me if I’m wrong. Bad news. Bad news.

Why do you personally feel making gifts to the arts is important?

Eva Farris: I think it’s very important, especially, it’s part of living. You don’t just need material things. You have to look farther. Especially kids, so they grow with some sense of vision. You see the difference in these children when they draw, you see the art in there, the feeling there just to find it, promote it. It’s very important.

Is education the most important thing for you to invest in?

Oakley Farris: I tell you what, I was such a lousy student. It was the grace of God I got that diploma. It’s just like yesterday, I go up to get the diploma, and the principal was a big tall gentleman. He looked down at me, and I could read his mind, “How did you get up here?” It’s extremely important to me. Personally, I feel like our entire nation is being dumbed down. There are jobs in this country they can’t fill, because they don’t have the citizens well-educated enough to fill those jobs. And that all has to do with art when you think about it.

Eva Farris: It makes character in a person, too. …If you don’t have art in an education, for me it’s worthless. It produces more imagination.

Oakley Farris: Art unleashes the brain. It stimulates the brain.

Viewing schedule for the 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts (all times Eastern)

KET Sunday, Nov. 3 – 2 p.m.

KET Monday, Nov. 4 – 4 a.m.

KETKY Sunday, Nov. 3 – 11 a.m., 7 p.m., midnight

KETKY Monday, Nov. 4, 7 a.m., 11 p.m.

KETKY Friday, Nov. 8 – 6 a.m., 9 p.m.

KETKY Saturday, Nov. 9 – 8 a.m.

KETKY Wednesday, Nov. 20 – 2 p.m. EST

KETKY Monday, Nov. 25 – 4 p.m.

KETKY Thursday, Dec. 5 – 1 a.m.

Emily B. Moses, communications director

Categories: Arts Advocacy | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts: Ed White

Meeting River City Drum Corps Founder Ed White, of Louisville, was one of the best experiences I had while interviewing the 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts recipients. I was energized for weeks after my conversation with Ed and kept referring back to my interview with him to reread some of the wisdom he shared with me.

Ed grew up in Louisville’s west end. As a child he was drawn to the arts but did not have ample opportunity for participation. Due to his involvement with a local Boys Club, he was naturally exposed to sports and played for years, even though his heart wasn’t in it. Ed eventually ended up being a director at a Boys Club and found it was still a sports-focused atmosphere. He decided it was time to incorporate the arts into the system, making art available at the same level as sports. During the next few years, with opportunities to learn through programs like Arts Reach Kentucky, Ed developed the tools he needed to start the River City Drum Corps.

I talked to Ed for more than two hours the day we met. I think if he hadn’t had other things to do, I’d still be there talking with him. What you will read in this interview about the drum corp barely makes a dent in Ed’s personal story and experiences. It is without pretense I say: Ed White, the 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts Folk Heritage Award recipient, makes me proud to be a Kentuckian.

What is the process like when kids sign up for the River City Drum Corps? What do they learn?

The first thing they learn is discipline. The first thing I have to do is get them to be able to stand still before I can teach them anything. After they get over that learning curve, we deal in drum making. Usually you have to be in drum corps a year before you get to make your drum. Then we start talking about African history and culture. We have a culture class every other Saturday, which is mandatory for them to come and to learn history, to learn culture, to learn games to let them understand the value of the team concept. It’s not a team concept where we have super stars, where everybody doesn’t get to play. It’s a concept where everybody is a part of the process and you rise through grasping the process. Our method is, we use the students as teachers. So we’re constantly teaching, I call it teaching down. As you teach down, the children grow up. And as they grow up, they’re continually teaching down. So the process keeps continually revolving around the idea, so that each child has ownership. It’s leadership development. It’s a leadership development program using arts and culture. They become the show managers, they become the booking agents – it’s the process of teaching them how the drum corps works. Basically, all I do now is just drive them – some shows I don’t even go in the building – so that they understand and they grasp the concept of the energy and power they have within themselves.

Why is it important to make your own drums instead of purchase drums?

It connects you to the culture. The drum in Africa is the foundation of culture. Celebrations, births, deaths, weddings, war, planting, harvest season. The drum is the foundation of life, ceremonies and culture. When I was in Ghana, I went to Tamale to meet with this group called the Tamale Youth Group. They do the same thing I do with the drums. They use it to teach children as a foundation, so their culture doesn’t get lost because of the influences of Western society. So they teach children to make drums, but also they teach them the purpose of the drum – they teach them to make fabric, to tie-dye – the whole thing about their culture, with the drum as the foundation of it. When you make things you tap into the creative spirit. So when a child takes raw materials and fashions this drum, then their spirit is connected to it. Again, that’s the power of art. The power of art is the connection of your spirit to whatever image you create. That’s what that’s about; that’s the reasoning, why. Once they do it, ownership is created.

Tell me a little about the kids who are in the drum corps.

I have children from all over the city, from all socioeconomic backgrounds. You know you hear people say ‘at-risk.’ But everybody’s at-risk, because all of us are one or two paychecks away from being out on the street. The gamut runs large and very diverse on the backgrounds of children that I get. Everybody’s looking for something and this is something that they find.

Because they are able to participate in the River City Drum Corps, what opportunities are available to them that weren’t available to you? You talked earlier about how the emphasis was on sports, but your heart was in the arts. Was it important to you to create those opportunities you didn’t have?

Yes. See, I couldn’t afford drumming. That was something I knew I couldn’t do, but it was easy for sports. Buying instruments was something that would not happen. But my mother could take her children to the Boys Club and everybody would get something.

There are so many things we do that get our children out of our community, so they see different things, they see different people. They understand it’s a different world out here.

Can you reflect on how the River City Drum Corps has been important to you personally? What personal achievements have you experienced?

When children that the world said “they can’t make it,” make it.

I look at my children who are first-generation college graduates. I look at them who have gone to school for free. I look at a young man who was from a family of superstar athletes. I see families who understand the power of education and drive their children to succeed, to grab it.

I’m glad that I met Bob Gates (former state folklorist). Bob Gates was one of the few people that I know who understands the power of culture. And he understands it. If we could get more people to understand the power of culture we could solve a whole lot of problems.

This work for me is my purpose. I’ve done a whole lot of things. I was a welder. I rebuilt cars. I worked in the atomic energy plant reprocessing uranium to build bombs. I’ve done several other little loose jobs. All of the rest of them, with the exception of maybe photography, was without purpose. This is my purpose.

Emily B. Moses, communications director

Categories: Performing Arts | Tags: , , , , , , ,

2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts: Lexington Children’s Theatre

I first became acquainted with Lexington Children’s Theatre when I was a teenager and attended the theater’s week-long Youth Theatre Arts camp at Midway College. It was there I met people who were very different from me but who I also easily related to because of our shared interest in theater and performance. I also met people who would influence my life for years to come.

Let me be clear without being too personal: My involvement with theater as a young person probably saved my life. I really hated being a teenager — not because I was bullied or had problems at school or negative experiences with friends. I just did not enjoy adolescence one iota. But being involved with theater, through two summers of camps with LCT and then being invited to participate in a youth theater through an instructor I met at the camp, gave me an outlet into which I could generate my terribly frustrating teenage angst. I also made a ton of new friends, and many of them I am still in touch with to this day.

All of the above to say: The arts are more important to young people than we can possibly comprehend. There are a million stories like mine, and there will continue to be children whose lives are made better through the arts as long as there are organizations like Lexington Children’s Theatre. I was very excited to conduct this interview with Larry Snipes, the theater’s producing director since 1979. I also think I should point out that it was important to Larry to recognize the entire staff of the theater and the work they do for Kentucky’s children when discussing receiving the Governor’s Awards in the Arts 2013 Education Award.

Talk a little bit about the theater when you started and how things have changed over the years.

When I came, it was a transition time for the theater. It was kind of a difficult time because, the children’s theater — for all of its life up until 1979 — had been a youth theater, a theater of young people performing for young people.

The board had decided we were going to work more toward becoming a professional theater, and that was something I was very excited about when I came. One of the things about the Discovery shows we do now, they give young people the same performance opportunities, but they are supported by a professional staff.

Our goal when I came in was to try to move the theater to a more professional company so that we could actually serve more young people. When you’re doing just the youth theater performance, you’re really focused on what those young people are getting out of the experience, not necessarily what the audience is getting out of the experience.

When I came in, the idea was really to broaden that experience so the audience was getting as good of a product as we could actually provide. That was really the driving force behind what we’ve been doing the last 34 years — to do the best quality work we can possibly do, and share it with as many young people as we can. That’s kind of what pushed us into a lot of different areas. We still do the youth theater component. We do three shows a year, plus the summer family musical where we try to encourage families to do shows together — parents and young people to participate in the shows as one. We didn’t abandon that hands-on experience for a young person in performance. What we did was enhance it and try to give them the support they needed to succeed.

Tell me a little more specifically about the work you do when you go into schools and the experiences the kids have and why they’re important for children in Kentucky.

For a lot of young people we reach we’re the first experience they have in live performance theater. To see a full production within their school and within their community, that’s the most valuable thing we provide. We provide that final product a young person sees for the first time — where they see an actor, a live person performing before them, in the same room. It’s different from watching on television and different from watching a movie. That immediate connection they get with an artist, that’s what’s important for us. In addition to the performances we provide, we offer residencies and workshops with young people, and with teachers so they can get professional development workshops. Our education department has really come a long way the last several years in arts integration, using the arts to teach other subject matter and to integrate the arts across the curriculum. All of these things we do to try to provide a complete experience. It’s not just the performance; it’s not just the residency. It takes all of it to get there.

We want to give children an opportunity to explore their creative side and to be creative. And hopefully, through this exposure and through this experience in participating in theater or seeing theater, they can look at the world a different way. They can look at themselves a different way, and they can become a more complete person by doing that. And that’s what our goal is.

Why is your work important to the children and their parents, the people of Kentucky?

The thing about what we do is, we tell stories. Throughout history, for as long as man has communicated, we’ve learned and told stories, and we’ve told stories to teach and help us learn. That’s the most important aspect of what we do, the storytelling. By participating in the storytelling as a performer or as an audience member — our audience members participate — it broadens your view of the world. I think that’s what we can do. We can give a young person a chance to look at what it was like to be a holocaust victim, or a king or a fairy or a princess. It gives them a chance to identify with someone in this theater, or the character or the story, and learn as that character learns. That works on every single level, whether you’re a child or someone that’s my age, or a grandparent. It works on so many levels, that experience of watching a performance or participating in a performance, or seeing something that makes you … not necessarily question, but understand something, a concept that you didn’t fully comprehend. I think that’s what storytelling has done for mankind through our history. That’s how we learn. That’s what we offer young people in Kentucky — a different way of learning, a different way of looking at things.

Emily B. Moses, communications director

 

Categories: Arts Education, Arts Organizations, Performing Arts | Tags: , , , , ,

“Fitting” a residency into your classroom

One of the programs that the Kentucky Arts Council is most proud of are our Teaching Art Together grants, which provide assistance for Kentucky schools to bring teaching artists into their classrooms. These grants provide students with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to experience the creative process alongside a professional artist trained in the Kentucky and national education standards.

Even so, we often have a hard time “selling” this opportunity to schools and teachers due to misconceptions about the nature of a residency. Classroom time is tight, and it gets tighter every year. So, the most frequent concern we hear about having residency is, “I don’t have a even a couple of hours – let alone a week or more – to give up to a residency if I’m going to get through all of my content this year.”

We understand! That’s why we insist that residencies complement classroom content. Residencies are a school or teacher’s chance to bring in a new voice to teach content through the arts. It’s also a way for teachers to learn new methods and techniques in these subject areas to use in the future. Take, for instance, this example from Tichenor Middle School in Erlanger.

Tichenor was awarded the Teaching Art Together grant in the 2012-2013 school year. Fiber artist, Pat Sturtzel, partnered with art teacher, Scott Fairchild, to add a fiber arts component to the Tichenor Middle School art curriculum. Pat facilitated a series of fiber arts projects that built each previous activity while also reinforcing art concepts, cultural connections and math and science concepts. Over a seven-week period, Pat worked with four core classes and provided four hours of professional development to the rest of the faculty and staff.

Mr. Fairchild and students learned surface design techniques (fabric dyeing, fabric printing, stitched embellishment) and textile construction techniques (construction of pillows, wall-hangings), each linked to various cultures (African, Southeast Asian, Japanese, Euro-American).  The residency enhanced the arts curriculum at Tichenor by giving students the opportunity to work directly with a professional artist. This firsthand experience gave students knowledge about how a professional artist works within their chosen field.  Interaction with the artist, visualizing her techniques and then being encouraged to explore their own interpretation of the creative process, enabled the students to engage in activities outside their daily instruction.

Another way the residency enhanced the arts curriculum was through the introduction of a new art medium (to both the school art teacher and students).  Mr. Fairchild had little experience working in this particular medium.  The visiting artist worked to provide the school art teacher with an authentic experience to expand his knowledge and skills.

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“During the residency I was excited to see the students work and learn with Mrs. Sturtzel. The students were up for the challenge of working in a new art process and came away with quality art projects and a basic understanding of what all goes into fiber arts.” One project the 8th grade students made were hand-dyed backpacks with a personal printed design. The 7th grade created throw pillows. The final group project consisted of a dozen 8-foot banners displaying various techniques and a mystical-themed appliqué project.

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Since the residency, Mr. Fairchild has taken what he learned and taught several lessons in fiber arts including, a pennant project, dying and printing projects, and a class quilt.  “From this residency, I am still learning and being challenged.  I remember calling Mrs. Stutzel saying, ‘You’ll never guess where I am at…  Joann’s Fabric!’  Remaining in contact with Mrs. Sturtzel and expanding the concepts of embroidery, fabric dying and screen printing, to other projects, has made a valuable addition to my art program at Tichenor. “

Artist residencies do not “take up” valuable classroom time. Artist residencies are the proverbial “stitch in time” that saves nine. Inviting an artist into your school and classroom is an enriching experience for students and teachers. Each will learn a better way of understanding the world around them and exploring the human experience – these two behaviors being the essence of education.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

The Teaching Art Together grant application is open now with a deadline of Oct. 15, 2013 to develop a residency plan to take place between January and June 2014.

Categories: Arts Education, Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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