Arts & the Mind, PBS

Alzheimer’s researchers call it a powerful tool to ward off dementia. At-risk teens use it to find meaning in the world around them—and in themselves. It offers healing to both chronically ill toddlers and veterans battling PTSD.

What is this magical elixir? Art. Arts & the Mind explores the vital role the arts play in human development during both youth and older age, and shares stories and cutting edge scientific research on how music, dance, painting, poetry and theater markedly improve well-being at both ends of life.

Hosted and narrated by Lisa Kudrow, Arts & the Mind makes the point that art is not a “luxury,” but central to the development of the human brain in youth and keeping our minds sharp as we get older. “At a time in our history when arts education is being diminished in our schools, these films document how the arts positively shape young minds, and keep our minds agile as we age,” host Lisa Kudrow said. “I am pleased and proud to help share this message with viewers of all ages.”

Social Entrepreneurship article, Prof. Nicole King

Social Entrepreneurship in the classroom.

IRC – BFHS Collaboration – Anna Vikhlyayeva

Final video work by Anna Vikhlyayeva, UMBC IRC Fellows student.

Docendo discimus.

At the beginning of our art lessons at Benjamin Franklin High School, I was excited to be in the atmosphere of an art class, because I had worked as an art teacher for three years back in the  Ukraine, and wanted to experience it again.  However,  I had never taught American teenagers before, and, therefore was slightly afraid. I was concerned about my cultural differences, and also about my accent, that could be a barrier in some cases. I wasn’t sure that I could overcome these obstacles, particularly among  teenagers, who are usually less forgiving to the mistakes that adults make.
From our first meeting with BFHS students, I understood that I could not use the same teaching strategy that I had used in a classroom in the Ukraine. A regular art lesson in the Ukraine had this structure: a teacher gave the theme of the lesson, explained the task, and showed techniques that would help students to accomplish this task. Then students drew or painted a picture, while at the same time a teacher helped students who had difficulties with the task. One main idea of this strategy was discipline. The situation in the art class at BFHS was the opposite of this word. Students came to the class and went from it at any time they wanted. During class half of them were hanging out in the back of the classroom, talking loudly to one another. Some of them were painting or drawing only what they wanted, absolutely ignoring art instructors.
I understood that to keep their attention we should spark their interest in art. The question was, how could we do that? I loved the idea of multiple art stations in the class that Professor Steve Bradley came up with. We had a portrait station, a super art fight station, a station for claymation animation, and a station for cut-out animation. BFHS students had the freedom to choose any art activity they wanted, and at any time, they could leave one station and join another. This soft strategy was in harmony with the students’ independence. Moreover, it gave students the opportunity to participate in as many art activities as they wanted.
Another absolutely brilliant idea of Professor Bradley was to invite the elderly to the art class. With their presence the atmosphere in the class started to be reminiscent of the atmosphere of a family. I think many people in our day miss this feeling of family. When BFHS students talked with the seniors, I saw how much they needed this talk: wise advice, words of encouragement, а feeling that someone is looking at you with hope and admiration. Just because of the seniors’ encouragement we carried out an absolutely astonishing project. A song! It was my dream come true! It was exactly what was expected from the IRC class – a collaboration of different talents: musicians, poets and artists, working on one interesting and challenging project. I was glad to take part in this project.

I learned a lot in this class. This experience will help me in my future project, that I am planning to do this summer in an orphanage in Russia. The project is to create an animation studio for children. It can help children forget about the stressful situations that they have lived through and to enter a wonderful wold of animation, where a fairytale becomes alive. Also, the animation studio is an opportunity for children to learn new skills that they may use in future if they decide to become animators.

Hua Shu: Looking Back

My initial impression of our project at BFHS was confusion. So many things were said and resources were shared during the first day of class. We learned about Brooklyn Curtis Bay, about the kids at Benjamin Franklin, about the seniors at Brooklyn Curtis bay, about the streets, the buildings, the goods and services that no longer existed. We heard and saw different documentations– recorded interviews, photos, videos– of kids, seniors and locations.  Four hours, I sit, overwhelmed at the plethora of information and resources we have at our hands, impressed yet confused about what we could possibly do with these information, or how we can use these information to share, influence and shape the historic community at Brooklyn Curtis Bay.I was also a bit discouraged and daunted by the fact that we have to work with students. I have worked with students previously, but never through art, never doing something creative, never in a classroom setting, or rather their classroom setting, a place where I am an outsider looking in, a place I feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable.With these emotions I started my journey at Benjamin Franklin High School. The hardest part was getting the students to open up and it was a slow process for the relationships to develop. I have always been introverted but I was able to befriend a few students, even becoming close friends with a few, like Darius and Kiashea. Kiashea is a very timid girl, but I sense that she was happy I was coming every friday to make awkward jokes with her and watch her draw portraits. Slowly, I became more comfortable with the classroom setting and its inhabitants as I learn more about each one– not really about their situations at home or how broken they are, but just tiny details about each one’s lives, about their hopes and dreams, favorite tv shows, boys and girls they liked. In the beginning, I was hoping to be someone’s hero, by the end, I just wanted to be someone’s friend.I also applied this realization to our animation project. In the beginning we were busy trying to formulate a concept or a narrative for the students to work around because we think that it is easier for them to build a story around a theme. But What we forgot to consider was that they, being young adults, are eager to be independent, expressive and are very much engulfed in their own lives. They weave their own threat of creativity and when we let them have the resources to weave their imagination into reality, they thrived and blossomed. By letting each student choose their own project, story and medium, they created unique pieces that expressed their own ideas, hence themselves. The most enjoyable experience for me has been observing their transformation from a follower to a leader, watching Brianna becoming a director instead of a assistant, watching Kiashea from being in her own world, to taken interest in her surrounding. This metamorphosis is a change I would never expect on our very first introduction to the this project. Portrait Stories was more than a exchange between the seniors and the students, but all of us in many different stages of our lives. I listened and learned so many things from working with students at BFHS–especially about how important it is to listen, to be a friend. This means no judgements, full support, sometimes all they wanted was a listener and few words of encouragement. I never knew friendship and the ability to listen are this important. Our work at BFHS has taught me to be patient, alert and listen well and that sometimes a friend is all one needs.

I am glad everything happened the way it did. Even Though trying to incorporate the theme of harbor didn’t work, even though it was hard in the beginning, i feel like nothing would fall into place without our initial struggles. Our work in the first few weeks taught us to let the students take control of their own creativity. After all, the project is really about the students we are working with, why take away their voice? Our products, the animation and the art fight proved that their voice is a powerful one when given the right tools.

Though I was daunted and overwhelmed in the beginning, I have learned so much from Portrait Stories and can’t express how truly glad and thankful I am for given the opportunity to work with BFHS students.  They taught me so much about helping the community, about making a difference. It truly does not take a giant step, or a heroic act. Most of time, what makes the most difference, are really just little things, like once a week, for two hours, with some markers, a camera and a computer. I think we have left an imprint in their lives. They might not realize it now, but i believe soon, they will look back and realize this experience was a valuable one.





Reflections – from Coco Tang

It’s been a long semester looking back.

We’ve come a long way – from first stepping into the BFHS classroom to walking out for the last time – the personal transformation from this experience has been profound.

To be completely honest, I came into this class with zero expectations. As with my previous IRC class experience, I had no idea what to expect, and so I walked in with a clean slate, a blank sheet, an open mind from which to create and learn.

The students seemed shy in the beginning. And our first day with BFHS reminded me of orientation day at UMBC, where all the new freshmen meet with some of the orientation staff, many of whom are upperclassmen. Neither are quite sure how to approach the other, but the expectation was there – that some interaction was about to begin. Truthfully, I was not sure how to act at first, so I adopted what I thought was a pretty passive approach. Once all the students had finished introducing themselves, I sidled over to a table and began chatting and doodling. Gradually, over the course of the two hours, a few students became more talkative, mostly about minor things, punctuated by the occasional joke and sarcasm. I remembered a few names for future reference, and ruminated about a few observations: They were passionate about art. They liked drawing. They were excited about new ideas and new technology. They have not had a lot of opportunities to express any of this.

The original premise of the project certainly seemed interesting. The notion of “community” was something with which I’ve been familiar growing up, but has been a feeling that’s drawn further and further away with age, responsibility, and my own loss of free time. I grew up on a small communal farm, where every family knew about the business of every other family. That was my understanding of what a community was.

But the Bay area and the project with BFHS presented a challenge on a conceptual level. To define the community through art and ask the question of “What does the Chesapeake Bay community mean to you?” to this group of students seemed dauntingly ambitious. Their reactions seemed varied. Some seemed to be interested, and contributed ideas. Some seemed indifferent. Others were opposed to it, or just simply did not understand it in full. To be honest, I’m not certain I understood it. And if I could not answer a question, I didn’t see how the students would answer it. But one of the girls with whom I had become close had expressed what seemed to me like a rather vehement objection to the idea of connecting the Chesapeake Bay, and I thought, “that was that.” Then came our biggest hurdle.

At that point, I felt the most difficult aspect of this project for me was figuring out a way to bridge all of the mini-projects together. While what we did was fun and meaningful individually, I felt that the overall connection between the art fights, the claymations, the portrait drawings, the collages, the paintings, and so on was somewhat fragmented. In our sessions back at UMBC, too, this was brought up. Ultimately, our solution worked – the common link of art drawing all of the creativity together – but I would say conceptually, this was my biggest struggle in the BFHS project. I could not see us bridging this in a way that made more sense, that coherently brought together all of the differences and fragmentations within the class – from the mediums to the activities, to even the types of interactions students had with each other.

The most difficult component of my personal project was a bit different. By the time I produced my final pieces, I had already gone through two previous idea proofs, which I discontinued. The first would have been a highly intimate piece that would have had me asking students very personal – perhaps even touchy – questions about their lives. Given our time constraint and the gray sketchiness of some of the comments I may receive, I decided that idea was somewhat risky. My next idea was an Andy Warhol inspired idea, after I had noticed that the students were drawn to very bright, vibrant colors. I was going to make pop art, which required me to take photographs of them. So that’s what I did: I had a few students follow me into the hallway and stand against the wall, and I would photograph them. It soon turned out to be a photomontage session, as they freely changed expressions and emotions and gestures sans any command. I ended up with around 20 shots of each student. I had asked them to give me three colors they felt represented them, or had special meaning to them, and all of them dutifully did so. When I returned to look at the photos, the variety in their expressions was something that jumped out at me. And I decided that it was not to be wasted, so I changed my idea for the final time, and produced the following pieces. It was an accidental inspiration, and I’m glad I stumbled upon it.

My most enjoyable experience by far was doing the claymations. I felt that was where the students transformations were the most palpable. I am not going to name names in this paper, but the student I worked with went from “I don’t know what to do,” to “Let’s move the camera over there, and we’ll do the shot my way.” The beginning was certainly a struggle. Explaining the usage and application of each equipment required patience: this green background, this purple paper, this keyboard, that computer, the camera and how to operate it, etc. They picked it all up quickly enough, but then came the other challenging part of coming with a story. Initially, everyone seemed hesitant about taking control over the animation. No one seemed eager to pitch ideas, and everyone seemed more ready to defer to me or another UMBC student. They asked questions like “Can I do this?” or “Am I allowed to do it this way?” to which the response was always “This is your story, you can do whatever you want!” To help move things along, I would suggest things about placement, a few skeleton storylines to see if they pick up on anything. They did, and very quickly.

The first we did was the gory clip for Halloween. I would say that was the highlight of my experience. It was fun, creative, and reflective of something with which I was very familiar – teenage angst. It didn’t even start out that way; the story actually began very innocently, with animals playing with each other. But as the BFHS students took control, our collaboration went into “Halloween mode.” It was hilarious to watch them work at this, laboriously shaping the stubborn clay and carefully adding strategic drops of red paint for blood. That was where their control as artists really became evident, and I could see that it was becoming easier and easier for the students to direct, mold, and shape the course of their characters and story. I’ve never felt that transformation so clearly as I did in those Claymation sessions, and what a rewarding feeling that was to watch it happen.

This course was important in my life because to me, it felt bigger than what it actually was. Yes, it was a class, there was a coursework component, but it had externalities that I never would have considered to be part of a class structure until this semester. As I had mentioned before, community had a very linear and limited definition for me. Over the course of the semester, I could see the quintessential notion of a community unfolding before me: the classroom was a community; as artists, we were now part of that community. It included schools, family members, the elderly, faculty, staff, us, everybody. It was something I had not previously considered.

Ultimately, the students taught me as much as I taught them, if not more. I knew art – or what I thought was my conception of art – but I did not envision its unfolding in the scope of this BFHS class, and certainly nothing about that surrounding community. I went in not knowing what I could contribute, and walked away feeling like I contributed through an awakening of sorts. I was a small cog in a big machine, but it was a machine that served as an outlet for students hungry for artistic release, starving for recognition and expression of their talents and ambitions and dreams and goals.

And it was more meaningful than my words have the capacity to convey.

I work as an Emergency Medical Technician, so I’m often told that my contribution to the community under my fire station’s jurisdiction is immediately and straightforward. Someone calls for help, I show up, I help them, I take them to the hospital. It was professional. It was quick and impersonal. This BFHS experience was different. My contribution was less immediate, it was dispersed over a long period of time, and subtle in its nature. And it felt very personal. I wasn’t bandaging a wound or setting a bone or doing palpations. I was making friends, sharing my life stories and giving personal advice, girl to girl. I was talking about art as much as my experiences in school, in China, in my travels, etc. Some of the students had troubles at home, and had confided in me about them. Others had issues at school. Some were simply struggling with an artist’s block. But I was a part of all of that.

All in all, this course was a great experience. The BFHS class was also a great experience. It has reshaped my vision of what community is, and also gave me a unique perspective on how I can contribute to it in ways outside of my traditional considerations. I hope to take these lessons in the future as I uncover more communities, and seek to be a positive force of influence to those around me.

IRC Fellows Final Post – Deborah Firestone

One of my primary goals as an artist is to create art with a purpose. Not just something interesting to look at, but something that will also have a positive effect on those who see it. For example, I am currently working part time creating graphics and animations for an educational video game for high school students. Before this class, I had heard of using art to improve communities, painting murals and the like. I had never actually participated in such an endeavor before, but nevertheless, I think art is one of the best ways to reach all kinds of people. Overall, working with the students at Benjamin Franklin High School was a satisfying experience that I believe was not only beneficial for the students, but also for myself. It was a little rough for me at the beginning of the semester since I did not have much experience working with younger people, but over the last few months I have gotten more comfortable with it. Given the success we had at BFHS, I think the program could have an even greater positive impact if it could be expanded to other schools in the area.

My favorite part of the project, which I also think was one of the most successful, was the Art Fight. I think it was a very effective way for the students to express themselves and be creative. I have never been much of a doodler, but I enjoyed the unstructured format of drawing whatever struck your fancy, which is the total opposite of the normally rigid guidelines I have for school assignments. Recording the Art Fights in stop motion as we drew them was also fun; the works in progress were just as interesting as the final products, perhaps even more so because they made it easier to see how the drawings were related.

I think my personal project helped me connect more with the class project. I listened to several interviews of elderly residents of the Baybrook area, and through hearing their stories, tried to get a sense of who they are, what the neighborhood was like when they were younger, and how and why it has changed. In response, I tried to retell their stories using animation, since some of their narratives created such vivid pictures in my head that it only seemed fitting. I isolated certain clips of the interview recordings, the ones that I could picture the most vividly, and for each one created short Flash animations of the first things that popped into my head when I listened to them. This project added another dimension to my experience in the community and gave me a new perspective.

The project has been an eye-opening experience and I would like to see where it goes from here. Although I will not be able to continue with the BFHS program in the spring, I would like to continue using art to help people in some way, whether it is through education, scientific visualization, or something else. Good luck and best wishes to all the students at BFHS!

IRC Closing Response – Megan Masciana

Many different groups of college students (the IRC Fellows, The American Studies class, And the Stevenson Film Students as well as different students who were observing our progress) gave their time and skills to benefit the community, which was the goal of the breaking ground initiative. As an IRC Fellow, this project was an important part of my life because it gave me the chance to work with students in order to create artwork and to share my knowledge with others. It was really exciting to work with the students when they got excited about the project. Once they spoke up and voiced that they were not interested in working with a theme about the Harbor, we broke the class into multiple art stations. This format of teaching worked extremely well because the students wanted to explore many different subjects within the two hour time period that we all had together. We worked on everything from folio sound design to collages. Stop motion animations were created on the chalkboard, using paint, while we were working on the art fight, by moving collage pieces and with clay (claymation).

During the planning process I was very involved. Based on the T-shirt War animation and the exquisite corpse game (a shared drawing between two or more people, In which the players each take turns drawing one part of the body or city, ECT), I thought that it would be good to bring a super art fight themed station into the classroom. This station involved all students, even those who seemed uninterested in the other projects we started to implement joined the art fight station for a large chunk of the class period. The flexibility of the station made it easy for students and anyone else to float in and out of the drawing, which was captured about every seven seconds by the camera. At the beginning, Deborah and I would set the tone by naming a topic like dragon cats or pirate aliens. However, the students began to direct the station as they gained confidence in themselves and each other. One day a girl decided to plan her drawing almost as if it were a mural and the other students followed suit. Another time the subject started out as reptiles and home, but one artist drew bread and another added graffiti elements. The collaborating artists on the art fight loved those two ideas and incorporated them into their small parts of the whole. The end result was different than anyone could have expected! Other times the art fight would gain characters from drawings and the portrait stories table ECT. Sometimes ideas from the art fight would even jump off the wall and become part of projects like the claymation station. By the end of the semester the high school students were even drawing on the walls paper, even when we had not set up the two panels. I am glad that they enjoyed the project so much!

It was interesting to see how the students would take our ideas and transform them to fit their own goals. It was also encouraging to see them gain confidence, take charge and begin to work with each other as the class progressed. While I was aware of the multiple activities in the room, I mostly stayed at the art fight station. This graffiti style station became an expressive brainstorming wall, where the IRC Fellows and BFHS students worked hand in hand to create pieces. But we also “worked” to have fun while we were drawing and chatting about many different subjects.

One student, Brianna, mentioned that she was also interested in writing. Alexis decided to make paintings that could inspire Brianna’s story. I loved that her and Alexis collaborated to create a story because, for me at least, creating a plot is one of the hardest aspects of writing fiction. I really enjoyed hearing their ideas and seeing their progress.

Another moment when I worked one on one with a student was when Chapel asked me to help her with a drawing of a pencil. I taught her about the power of shading to bring out certain characteristics of the drawing. When I was studying drawing I learned that this is called chiaroscuro. We also talked about balancing the light and dark strokes across the image. Because your eye is immediately drawn to the darkest part of the picture, the artist either should purposefully group the objects with more shading in one area or spread them out over the page. After that Chapel began to add the name of the pencil at the bottom of the page using graffiti style lettering. She considered naming it Beethoven because that is a composer that she likes. Although she did not ultimately choose to go in this direction, I was really impressed that she thought about her interests and outside influences when creating her drawing. One thing to remember about design is that it is always good to see other peoples work and look at different mediums, subjects and styles. While she was writing the pencils name we chatted a bit. I asked her to show me how to create my own hand drawn letterforms and she helped me to write my name. Then she commented on what worked best about the letters and prompted me the way I had taught her. The next thing she did was to add a copy of her drawing to the art fight mural! I am glad to have been able to direct students toward their goals. I feel that I taught the students a lot but they also taught me. It was always really exciting to see the fantastic work that the students produced!

Here is my final project about the class:

IRC Fellows Closing Response – Connie Chang


What was the IRC Fellows class to me? To explain, I would have to tell a story, which is perfectly in theme with the topic this semester: storytelling. So let me start off with a story about the class…

I signed up for the IRC Fellows class in the spring of 2012. I had prepared for this class by reading the assigned reading, but I still had no grasp of what the class would be like. It was only until we actually arrived on site, at Benjamin Franklin High School, that I understood what we were doing. In the beginning, I was interested in the subject of going to a school and creating art with students because I had always thought to myself that if I ever go into the field of teaching that I would want to teach high school and older.

It was interesting to see the dynamic of the high school classroom from a different perspective. It was really fascinating see how there were some kids at the beginning who were obviously eager to learn, the unmotivated, the shy, the outgoing, etc.

I did not feel a hostility in the beginning from the kids, but rather it was that feeling one gets when they start out a new school year: the adjusting-to-school-surroundings-again kind of atmosphere. I definitely felt some frustration in the beginning trying to motivate the unmotivated/uninterested kids to participate in addition to some anxiety with pretending to be an extrovert to excite the kids. But as we kept coming Friday after Friday, eventually most of the kids joined in because they became accustomed to us and we had great results.

The new things I learned from this experience actually do not really apply to me as an artist, but rather my thoughts on education and working with kids. Originally I thought that being an educator was to be someone authoritative; one would tell the kids what to do and they would be expected to complete the task. An educator was someone who was the (mostly) benevolent dictator of the class. Contrarily, I learned that the educator serves as the patient guide to inspire the ones who are learning. Since the kids are at age where they can be irrational and emotional, they have higher probabilities of butting heads with authoritative figures that do not understand them. Thus assuming the role of a guide, educators can learn to understand the kids while teaching them the things they need to know; there is an interesting double-ended flow of learning that happens in the classroom.

Going off that thought process, when we implemented an activity; we did not ask the kids to join. But by making the activity look fun and interesting, the kids picked up their own initiatives to engage. I think this is the best way to encourage teenagers to learn. To want to learn out of their own curiosity and interest, they inspired themselves to continue to learn. Humans are stubborn by nature; one can tell someone else what to do, but most likely they would respond with resistance. By targeting the naturally curious side, we are able to tap into the drive to learn.

Another thing I learned was how surprisingly innocent these kids were. By conversing with a few of them, some tell me what their favorite cartoon shows are and what their favorite pop music is and it’s all very innocent. That was mind-boggling. One persistent memory of when I went to high school was that it was a cesspool of deceit and cattiness; it was a world propelled by superficial desires and needs to succeed for image. Despite their surroundings, they still find optimism and drive in their lives. The most inspiring thing is that they are able to channel all the negative insecurities into healthy channels like the art they created in class and for our exhibition. I was thoroughly impressed.

The biggest difficulty with this project took place outside classroom. Communications through email were usually very slow or unsuccessful. Sometimes it seemed like there was more effort pushing fellow classmates to be proactive than effort spent on motivating the kids. But I think the classroom time spend back at UMBC to talk gave everyone a chance to clearly communicate face to face, which was really useful. Another difficulty was more of a personal one: because I am naturally an introvert, learning how to interact appropriately with people is challenging. But this experience pushed me to try to break out of that shell; the changes were not instant, but I know I am getting closer to fixing my flaws.

Overall, the IRC Fellows course was a very enlightening and humbling experience. I really thought the mix between community and involvement with art was really interesting and it definitely brought me closer to understanding the region for it’s charms.


-Connie Chang, IRCF Fall 2012

The images shown at the top are from my final project, Baybrook Creative, which is a comic book available for purchase on Amazon! All proceeds will go to funding Prof. Bradley and Prof. King’s continued involvement in the Curtis Bay community.

Event Reflection

Now that we’re at the end of this session with the Curtis Bay community and the high school, I can say it was overall successful and very educational for all.
Pulling together the video of all the student animations, I saw how diverse the material we worked with was. From the humble beginnings using finger and foot paint to animate abstract expressions, to stop motion with people and pictures, we progressed to hand-drawn 2D animation and eventually claymation as well. Everyone should be very proud of what they accomplished.

With my own piece of artwork, I found that it evolved over time as well. My original piece was going to be a map that incorporated an old-time rustic feel like that of ancient oceanographic maps. The size would be 20” by 40” and large enough to see across a room. Images of important landmarks like the Polish Home Hall and Main Street would be hand-drawn in, along with the roads and trains surrounding Curtis Bay. This however, didn’t feel like it would make that big of an impact on the target audience at the gallery event. The next step was to add in three-dimensional objects that would make the piece more hands-on and interesting. I thought about sculpting buildings and gluing on lights and synthetic grass and changed the material from paper to canvas so that it would not just look like another google satellite map, but feel like a real piece of landscape. With the amount of time I had for revisions though, and the budget I was working with, this again didn’t seem to work as a truly meaningful piece that the audience would want to interact with. Finally, I decided to replace the 3D elements with crafted pictograms, carefully researched, cut, colored, painted, and sealed so that they felt almost like toys or playing pieces. Then, the viewer would truly get to interact, and use these pictures of Baltimore, the community, and fictional fun to create their own versions of the map. I encouraged them to play out stories using the pictures, or create a message, such as placing the umbrella and beach ball with the coastal rail station and oil tanks (based on real infrastructure seen from a satellite of Baltimore). This final iteration of my piece seemed to work the best as both an interactive, but educational piece of art that hopefully was also fun and whimsical.



In the beginning, I expected this to be very much a teacher-student facilitated class, with a structured routine that the IRC students would help run and lend advise. It turned out to be a lot more than just that. I feel like we all got very invested and emotional with the community and art that we were sharing with the Highschoolers. It wasn’t just about making art for the sake of making art where they needed it, but learning to communicate and connect with the people and space of Brooklyn Curtis Bay.
Thanks for the experience,

Day 11 – 11/30/12

This week is mainly focused on the preparation for the big event on Saturday. Everyone of the IRC Fellows are finishing up their final art projects. We arrived early on Friday to set up at the Polish Home Hall, which is a very lovely building located near the school in Curtis Bay. Our art exhibition was on the second floor of the Polish Home hall, where it was a spacy open room lit by massive windows on each side of the building. At the end of the room there was a stage. This space overall was very warm and inviting, which was perfect for our exhibition. The work was distributed evenly around the space, allowing for an easy-to-follow flow around the exhibition. Some of us were sent to go clean up the yard and everyone was done setting up by 11:00am.

The next day, it was the big event. The American Studies class arrived early to set up their space. When the event officially started, people started to trickle in. In a little bit, the Polish Home Hall was a bustling place of merriment and story sharing.

I was helping out with the gallery space. There were a few people that would just naturally come up to me and share their stories about the area. It was really interesting learning about memories in the area. I wonder though if it was a coincidence that so much story sharing was happening and that was also one of the themes in the class.

Overall the December 1st event was a great success; from execution to turn out I think it flowed very smoothly.

Posted by Connie Chang, IRC Fellows