oranje - recent posts from my current home

Friday, July 28, 2006

Hill House Summer arts projects: Week Two

So, I met Terri Baltimore at the Hill House on Thursday and we did a walking tour of the Hill and visited some of the sites. The Hill House has artists working in four different sites with multiple groups at each site this summer. Terri is an enthusiatic and knowledgeable supporter of the Hill district. She hopes that by injecting the arts into the community, she can leverage revitalization of a neighborhood that has seen some decline over the last four decades. I think she's right. Terri is pictured at left.

We started the day at the YMCA on Centre Avenue with the High School students enrolled in the ACE program. We were asked to provide arts programs for one third of the students enrolled in the ACE program. Demonstrably, the program has achieved success with the students. They keep gravitating to the artists that are on site.
Tina Brewer has been working in artist-in-community projects for many years. This summer, she is working with a group of ACE students on a pillow project. The project stems from the Women of Vision exhibition Migration, at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

The students spent their first session with Tina at the center, where they viewed the exhibit and talked about the meaning behind the work presented.

While Tina has been working with one group on the first floor, Deanna Mance has been working with another group in the second floor computer lab. Her students are producing a cd, combining sound and vocals. The groups have been small, but the immersive quality of the contact has proven to be very effective in engaging the students. One young lady that Deanna has been working with has spent hours outside of class developing her portion of the project.

Our last stop was with LaVerne Kemp at the Bedford site. This site has proven to serve as the greatest source of confusion for the artists working in the program. After visiting the site I think I can understand why; it is difficult to find. But well worth the effort! The facility is pleasant and welcoming. One would never know that it is terribly understaffed because LaRay Moton, who runs the facility, is a real powerhouse of an administrator.

LaVerne is working with her students on a project related another Hill House endeavor: Find the Rivers. Her students are making quilt squares that express river and travel themes.


Lisa Hunter said...

It all sounds great. I wish art were still part of the regular school curriculum, though. A Guggenheim study (covered in the NY Times) shows that art education is linked to literacy. Of course, it may simply be that the more affluent schools are the only ones that still teach art.

Susan Constanse said...

Pennsylvania is one of the few states that has Academic Standards for the Arts and Humanities, which are mandated by the Pennsylvania Board of Public Education. Art is still a part of the regular curriculum in grades k-8. I believe it becomes an elective at High School level.

The projects that I've worked on since arriving in Pittsburgh use the arts to expand on and explain history, science and ideas. Some of them have been intergenerational, some cross-disciplinarian.

While these are summer arts projects, many projects of the same sort are placed in the k-12 school system throughout the school year. Some of these projects are held during regularly scheduled classes and some are placed as after-school programs.

The Hill district is one of many troubled and impoverished districts in Pittsburgh. All of the projects that I've worked on over the last several years have been placed in similar districts, like Homewood and East Liberty.

I will now dismount that hobby horse. I could go on and on and on....