Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hello Tucson, Hello Philadelphia Murals: Part One

Exchanges among students have been greatly enhanced by technological advances. With cell phones, laptops, and digital cameras we can communicate with anyone in the world. In this project we are taking advantage of these devices by creating a cross country dialogue among young artists attending Kirkbride Elementary School in Philadelphia, PA and Drexel Elementary in Tucson, AZ. Students have created written, recorded and painted descriptions of their respective communities. I asked students to describe themselves, their school, their neighborhood and what was unique about their city. All this information was compiled to be used as reference material for a mural at each school. Students will get to see their work in on permanent display on the other side of the country. In addition to being a great arts project we are also learning about the cultural and ecological diversity of the United States, geography and social studies.

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Hello Tucson Video - "In my neighborhood"

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Hello Philadelphia Video - "In my neighborhood"

Last week I worked on the Tucson mural with students during the annual Arts Day. This amazing school wide arts festival immerses students in a day long exploration of the arts in a variety of media. The school principal Mrs. Escarcega (Mrs. E.) gave us gifts to bring back to the students in Philadelphia, as well as music and peacock feathers.

Drexel Elementary School is one of only 12 schools in Arizona who received the 2007 A + Exemplary Program Award for its Arts Day Extravaganza. This awards a testimony to the dedication of Arts Day coordinator Lupe Pressey and the school Principal Mrs. E.. Arts day features dance, music, story telling and visual arts. It is certainly a model for other school looking for ways to bring the arts into their schools.

The design for the Tucson mural features a central panel that I designed based on input from school staff, with the students images in the borders. The finished mural is on display in the library it celebrates the wonder of libraries, and the worlds that can be opened by books.

When I returned to the Philadelphia classroom I brought gifts of T-Shirts, music and images from Tucson. The kids watched in fascination as the Tucson students introduced themselves.

The project now continues with a mural in Philadelphia, that I’ll be reporting on in a few weeks.

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