Developing Perspectives in Moshi, TZ

I arrived in Moshi, TZ last March for a much-anticipated visit with my sister. I was greeted by her smile, hugs, and a blast of heat, the extreme of which challenged every fiber of my Bostonian being.

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My sister, Meritt, is spending a year working in Moshi working with Building a Caring Community (BCC). One of the first projects that she conceptualized when she got the position was for me to come and run a basic photography lesson for the older children and  to produce subsequent exhibit. With love for all aspects of such a venture, I was thrilled.

After a mere 36 hours to recover from jetlag and adjust to my new surroundings, Meritt, job coach Patrick Mangowi, and I found ourselves standing in front of some very excited kids with boxes of disposable cameras. The young adults of BCC are the most engaging and endearing group one could ever meet.

The stigma of their intellectual disabilities has historically kept them apart from society. But with the advent of BCC and its Young Adult program, they have found a wonderfully supportive community. They spend their days playing and learning together. Some days they make recycle paper to make beautiful handmade cards. Others, they work in their vegetable garden, growing food to feed the other children in the BCC program and for profit. With these vocational training programs, they are contributing financially to their families for the first time.

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These kids love photos and cameras. A digital camera or smart phone means hours of entertainment for them. So for each of them to have their own camera and the chance to take their own photos brought each of them true joy. I instructed each of them to begin by thinking of things that made them happy, or made them sad, things that are important to them. Then they each chose their favorite place around the center to be the subject of their first photo. From there we walked through the village and visited one of the students’ homes.

They were so excited by the simple cameras that in an effort to slow them down we decided not to show them how to wind the film. They ran to us after each picture in order to have it reset so they could snap another. The basis of my ‘lesson’ was trying to help them to hold still before taking the photo.

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After everyone had exhausted their film, and themselves we walked back to the BCC center. I had a child holding both of my hands the entire way. Mostly our conversations were one or two word exchanges and involved lots of hand gestures.  They taught me animal names in Swahili and they smiled and giggled encouragingly as I learned to pronounce the words. One of the boys pointed to himself and then to me and with a huge grin, repeated,“African”, “American.” And then he would point at both of us again and say “rafiki” (friend), with an equally big grin.

My sister tells me that the kids cannot fully understand the nature of this exhibit. But they are very proud and pleased that people are looking at their pictures in America and I am so very proud to be sharing their photos!

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You can preview the Developing Perspectives exhibition here.  Please contact me at sarah@acarts.org if you would like to purchase a photo remotely.  All proceeds from Developing Perspectives will go directly to Building a Caring Community.  The funds raised here will support physical therapy programs, medical care and outreach in the Moshi Community.  They will purchase much needed supplies, like orthopedic shoes, nutritional supplements, books, and school supplies for BCC students.

 

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Contemporary Watercolor: Juror Statement by Marjorie Glick

I chose works where the artist’s chosen subject was original or personal.  I looked for a connection between the subject matter and the best that watercolor has to offer in terms of transparency, fluidity, and jewel like colors.  I was drawn to works with vivid, balanced, or thoughtful use of color. I feel that colors in a painting should invite the viewer to linger over the image. I also prize watercolors that are direct, transparent, and show a spontaneity in their use of the water part of watercolor.   A good watercolor should look like a watercolor and not an oil painting.

Thank you to all who submitted works. I enjoyed seeing so many wonderful watercolors.  There were many difficult choices to be made but in the end, thanks to your submissions, we have a show here that gives us much to savor and enjoy.

Prize Winners:

sanderswatsonJoyful Return, Pam Watson

I loved the fresh exuberant take on the subject of flowers, The colors are jewel like and transparent and it was interesting to me how the artist seemed to compose the image in an organic and intuitive way. The painting felt spontaneous and joyful.  It is also a beautifully crafted watercolor.

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Karen Fitzgerald & Marjorie Glick

Watercourse Encounter, Karen Fitzgerald

I loved the energy of the moving water and the many marks and strokes that were layered to express the motion of the stream. There was freshness and spontaneity in the way the layers were applied and I was drawn to the vibrant blue color. The subject and the artists interpretation are perfect for the medium of watercolor.

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Italian Journal, Lorraine Sullivan

I enjoyed the symmetry of this diptych and the way the figure on each panel was related to the other. There is a skillful and seamless weaving together of elements of watercolor, drawing and collage and, of figure, place and time.

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Ellen’s House, Gwen Chasan:

The artists’ skillful use of yupo paper really showed the slippery watery nature of this medium. The pairing of many energetic lines and the watery application of earthy colors are the perfect expression for a nest- the artist’s subject.  There is also an intimacy to the painting, like you are peering into the nest that you’ve just discovered. A very expressive work.

Juror’s Statement by Erin Becker

I was so honored when Linda Shoemaker asked me to select work for Arlington Center for the Arts’ annual Members Juried Show.  On a wintery Wednesday in January, I had the pleasure of viewing over 130 pieces of art created by the talented members of the ACA community.

As the Director of the Cambridge Art Association, I have the opportunity to work with local artists on a daily basis – and am constantly impressed and inspired by the output of local artists.  My experience at ACA affirmed the strengths of the local visual arts community.

Nika by Tony Fenn

Nika by Tony Fenn

It is fascinating to see the groupings that emerge in a group show environment. In this exhibit, I found a particular strength in the following groupings:  figurative work; geometric abstracts, and scenes from nature.  Tony Fenn’s Nika embodies a tenderness and femininity – a stark contrast to the bold, geometric lines of Joan Goodman’s work.

Standing II by Joan Goodman

Standing II by Joan Goodman

I loved the way Jennifer Ingram captured a historic Arlington moment in Blue Willow – the simplicity of the piece drew me back to it time and again.

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Erin Becker, Jennifer Ingram and Linda Shoemaker, in front of Blue Willow

Finally, I found myself drawn to Tim Wilson’s photograph – an image of endless summer that is the perfect antidote to New England winter.  The strengths of the work of ACA’s members is abundant, and I had fun in capturing the conversations between individual artworks.

Detail of Busy Times by Tim Wilson

Detail of Busy Times by Tim Wilson

Thank you to Linda Shoemaker and the staff of ACa, who made the process a pleasure.  Enjoy the show!

2015 Members Exhibit: Reflections of Jurying Day

Hello!  My name is Virginia and I’m a college student who is interning here at ACA for a few weeks to learn about community arts and gallery work.  On my first day at ACA I watched Erin Becker, the Director of the Cambridge Art Association, jury the 2015 Members Exhibit.

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When Erin first walked into the room, there was art everywhere you looked, leaning against the walls and covering all the tables and pedestals.  Just scanning the room you could see the wealth of talent and mass of hard work each artist put into each submission. After walking around the room slowly, Erin began to pull art– taking a few pieces here, a few there.  Occasionally she would ask if two pieces, works that had a similar style, were made by the same artist.  I think she did not want one voice or perspective to be over-represented.   Most of the time though she worked quietly, going with her gut on what felt right and what didn’t quite fit.  Several works she would pick up carry to the other side of the room only to be moved again a few minutes later.   Despite the constant changes, there was a method to her decisions.  As Erin continued to pull works, groups began to appear.  She placed pieces with similar color schemes and textures closer together to see how they talked to one another.  There was a mix of media represented in any given group: a photograph next to a pastel drawing, next to a sculpture and yet it made sense.

As Erin chose work and grouped them together, she sometimes thought aloud.  She would ask Pam about the configuration of the room, whether some works would be too crowded in a corner.  By the time she finished the hundred-plus works were reduced to fifty-two.  What was left was a great collection of work with no extraneous pieces, the jurying was complete.   Speaking as an artist who often gets caught-up in my own work, I found it really beneficial to witness the consolidation and placement decisions.  I got to see how a show incorporates one artist’s work and actually enhances it by juxtaposing it with the work of others. Overall, I am really happy with how the show turned out and look forward to seeing everyone’s reactions this Friday!

CIT Spotlight

This posting was written by Hannah, a returning CIT at Vacation Arts Camp.

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The Counselor-in-Training program is for teens 12-15 years old, who are interested in being a counselor at ACA’s Vacation Arts Camp someday.  In the mornings we learn leadership skills, then we eat snack with the campers.  After snack, we split up and go to different classrooms.  CITs help the teachers during classes.  During lunch, we talk to the campers and then during recess we play with them.  After lunch, we get to make art of our own. 

On Thursdays, the CITs go on a field trip.  We’ve gone to the MFA, MIT, the Aquarium and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  When we get back, we usually stop for ice cream at the Capitol Creamery.  It’s overall very fun – I meet new CITs and see old ones each week.  Even if we don’t know each other in the beginning, by Friday we’re all friends.

100_9513The CIT art projects are very fun and interesting and challenging. Some of the projects I’ve done include screen printing a selfie onto cloth, creating a collage about my interests, hopes and dreams, and making a stamp based on a country and making a joint passport project with the rest of the CITs.  The art teachers are awesome and often let us alter the project to our liking.

Once or twice a week, the CITs lead games during recess.  A few weeks ago, we led a game called snapshot.  To play, the campers break into teams.  The teams get a subject and they have to work together to act out a still scene from a made up skit or play based on that subject.  Three CIT judges score each team for teamwork, creativity, originality and the team with the most points wins.  This time, the winning group won a prize – the privilege of throwing water at Gavin, another CIT.  The campers on the winning team got paper cups filled with water and Lydia, the CIT leader, counted down.  At zero, everyone splashed Gavin.

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Overall being a CIT is great!  You learn about leadership and work skills and make so many friends.  I’ve been a CIT since I was 12 and I’ve been a camper since I was five.  I hope to be a counselor next year!

Images of Arlington at the State House

Arlington Center for the Arts’ annual exhibition, Images of Arlington, is going on tour!

DSCN0416Following the exhibition at ACA, Senator Ken Donnelly requested to show selected artwork in his offices at the State House. The artwork will hang there for up to a year and includes selections from the adult and children exhibitions. Senator Donnelly’s constituency includes his hometown of Arlington, making the show especially fitting for his offices.

To thank the artists who are loaning their work, Senator Donnelly hosted a reception and tour of the State House. We had a great time seeing the State House and even got to go onto the floor of the House! Follow this link to view all the photos.

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Lastly, thank you to Senator Donnelly and his staff for a great afternoon and for supporting the arts in Arlington!

Young at Art – Meet the Teachers

Each summer, ACA welcomes its smallest campers to the Young at Art, a morning camp for 4-5 year olds.  This year, we have three new enthusiastic and energetic teachers for our young campers.  We are excited to welcome Robert, Shooka and Ashley – read more about them below!

Young at Art runs in weekly sessions through Labor Day, come join us!

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For the past ten years, Robert Rogers and his students of all ages have tromped through forests, zoos, museums, and even classrooms making music, theater, and mayhem. But gentle mayhem. Good mayhem. One afternoon, his students watched a goat give birth. They composed a song of celebration on the spot and marched it to all four corners of the farm. When indoors, Robert can be found writing plays and directing musicals for children, and performing lead roles in community theater and musicals. He graduated from the Kennedy Center Training Program for Emerging Playwrights as well as the American Conservatory and Asolo Conservatory Theater residency programs. Robert holds an MFA in Playwriting for Young Audiences from Lesley University and is Early Childhood Certified in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

He loves to skate, ski, and skimboard. Alas, despite years of training and a Masters degree in mathematics, he remains incurably silly.

 

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“Music, life and enjoyment are three inseparable concepts!”  That is the basis of Shooka Afshar’s philosophy of music.  Kids in Shooka’s classes learn to open their ears to music and harmony and to experience the power of music.   She teaches rhythm, toddler tunes, group dancing and other fun activities, all using the Dacrozian Methods, through which students use movement to learn about music.

Shooka herself fell in love with music and performing at an early age.  She watched her first classical concert on a vhs at the age four and instantly decided to become an opera singer.  She started learning piano by ear and never stopped performing.

Shooka was awarded her BA and then completed her Masters of Music in Vocal Performance at Longy School of Music. In addition to teaching in schools and the Community Music Center of Boston, Shooka also teaches flute, piano and voice to individual students.

 

AshleyYarnellAshley Yarnell has been performing all over the New England area since a very young age, and made her professional debut at the Publick Theatre Boston at the age of 12. Since then she has continued to pursue her love of music and all things theatrical, completing her BFA in Musical Theatre from the renowned Pace University in New York City, where she was able to partake in Master Classes with such industry names as: Jack O’Brien, Joanna Gleason, David Stone, Stephen Flaherty, Michael Greif, Victoria Clark, Jerry Mitchell, Adam Guettel, Donna Drake, Curtil Holbrook, Lonny Price, and Bob Cline. She has also performed professionally with: Rachel York, Patrick Cassidy, Lee Meriwether, and dance icon Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Following undergraduate study, Ashley decided to branch out from the musical theatre world of performing and into the world of teaching and contemporary music. She completed graduate coursework in Vocal Pedagogy, Jazz Vocals, World Music, Choral Conducting, and General Music Education at the University of Massachusetts. Since graduating in 2008, she has built up a plethora of students throughout the New England area and is extremely excited to be teaching in the very town she grew up in and inspired her love and desire for a musical life. An avid composer/lyricist as well, Ashley is looking to continue to perform and write for the live rock/blues/acoustic scene.