Year round, Express Yourself introduces and immerses young people into the world of music, dance, theater, and visual art with transformative results. Through artistic expression, youth move from a place of isolation to one of belonging and learn to use a variety of creative means to express themselves in positive and healthy ways. In the process, young people discover and develop inner strengths and gain a greater sense of connection with others. All of this work culminates in the annual Express Yourself showcase presented in collaboration with the Department of Mental Health.
At this year’s 23rd annual showcase, over 200 young people performed at Boston’s Boch Center – Wang Theater. They entertained an enthusiastic audience sporting festive glow stick necklaces and bracelets. Celebrating this year’s “SOUL” theme, the program featured set pieces designed by youth as well as a medley of singing, drumming, and dance performances.
The showcase also featured guest performances by Afro-Brazilian percussionist Marcus Santos, Cammie Griffin and John Angeles of “STOMP”, funk soul, reggae singer Toussaint Liberator, Boston Children’s Chorus, Joyspring Community Chorus (directed by Jonathan Singleton) and West African Master Drummer Joh Camara.
Artists for Humanity celebrated Black History Month on Instagram by highlighting local legends: people they’ve mentored, been mentored by, or who have enriched the local community with their talent and energy. Here are a few of those featured paintings:
“This was my second painting at AFH. I tend to focus on realism and my ideas are based on things that I’ve faced. This painting represents the power of knowledge; how knowledge helps you expand out of your boundaries and grow as an individual,” Erica Orsorio, youth artist with Artists for Humanity.
“My art resembles and is influenced by the mental and physical restraint that people of color face in this world. I usually try to make connections to my life and my Haitian ancestors, as well as the struggles of people of the African diaspora all over the world. I encourage and embrace black power, it is evident in my pieces,” Adriana Dalice, Artists for Humanity Alum.
Take a journey through the eyes of teen artists from the ICA’s nationally recognized Teen Programs. The exhibit ICA Teen Photography (through October 30, 2016 at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art) features new works made by 16 Boston-area ICA teen participants. Throughout the school year, participants in the museum’s rigorous digital photography courses learned to use museum-issued cameras, and established positive relationships with peers and the professional artists and educators who led the classes.
When asked what he looks for in a photography subject, Edward Tapia, a teen whose work is featured in the exhibit said, “There are certain things that seem attractive to the eye as it is, but honestly, anything can become attractive and interesting if someone looks at it with a different view. I try to turn things into outstanding compositions with photography, so I look at things in a different way than usual and capture what seems interesting about it to create even more.”
“One of my biggest take-aways from participating in the Teen Programs at the ICA is to learn to appreciate art and discover the meaning behind it, and then apply them to my personal life.”
Krystal Cai, another teen whose work is featured in the exhibit said, “One of the biggest take-aways I have from participating in the teen programs at the ICA is a clear understanding of the basic technical features of the camera, which I think was a valuable lesson for me as a beginner. Also, this program taught me do not ever delete pictures, because you can always look back at your previous work to see how you progress and learn areas for improvement.”
Last week, in New York’s Hudson valley, Bard College hosted the first National Take a Stand Festival, bringing together student-musicians participating in El Sistema-inspired programs from across the country for a 5-day music camp.
The National Take a Stand Festival is provided to students free of charge through a partnership between the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Venezuela’s FundaMusical, Longy School of Music, Aspen Music Festival and School, and Bard College. For some students, the Festival was their first experience traveling out of state, and gave them the opportunity to collaborate with peers from different parts of the country as they work with exceptional master teachers and musicians on challenging musical repertoire.
Approximately 80 participants, ages 11-17, were selected for the Eastern Festival. (The western states’ Festival was held in Aspen in June.) Twenty-five participants were from Massachusetts, making it the largest delegation from any single state. Most of the Massachusetts students (including 13 from Boston String Academy, whose program is pictured above) also participate in programs supported by MCC’s SerHacer Program.
In addition to its large student contingent, Boston String Academy’s excellence was recognized with the selection of Co-Director Mariesther Alvarez to join the Festival’s roster of 10 Master Teachers who ground both the Western and Eastern Festivals. Co-Director Marielisa Alvarez was also invited to teach at the Eastern Festival.
The El Sistema model originated in Venezuela with the goal of promoting social change and citizenship through music, primarily by providing orchestral music experiences universally. In its 40 years, El Sistema has inspired thousands of music educators around the world.
“Voice What Matters”, the banner above the stage read, and that is exactly what the youth of the Mass Department of Youth Services (DYS) did. From paintings to sculptures, to videos, songs and dance, young people showed who they are and what matters to them. This year the DYS held the 4th Annual “Share Your Art, Share Your Voice!” Statewide Youth Showcase on June 16 at the Paramount Center at Emerson College.
The motivation for the investment in the arts by DYS came about because, as Peter Forbes, Department of Youth Services Commissioner, said, “Many of the youth are not happy to be with us (DYS), so we have to try to figure out what they’re interested in and use that interest as a hook for the change process. Many of the youth have unbelievable artistic talent, but they often don’t have exposure to the arts to see that, so this is something the agency put forward.”
The showcase kicked off with a youth art exhibition, with the proceeds going directly to the artists. Walking through the exhibit, excited chatter of the attendees could be heard as they eyed the pieces they were going to purchase. “They’re going fast,” said one onlooker. “I know they always do,” said another.
A self-portrait on display that had sold within 15 minutes of the exhibit opening was entitled “Purple Stands for Loyalty.” The artist, Kevin, wrote in his description, “I feel good that I did this self-portrait. Purple is my favorite color.”
Another artist wrote this about her painting “Look Closely”: “Pretty much everyone has a different perspective, a different eye. For this, trees make me feel calmed down, like I’m in a forest alone.”
Following the exhibit, performing artists hit the stage. The performances, while entertaining, also highlighted the realities of life. A youth named Xavier gave a powerful rendition of the “Hath not a Jew Eyes?” speech from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, a performance which had the audience in thunderous applause. A story by a youth named Dion described the struggle of reality vs. perception, and what he called the “Levels to this Frontin’” meaning what the world sees on the outside is not always what it is truly like on the inside. A group of girls – Jessica, Clarisine, Cheyenne, Zorelys, and Irianis – performed a stepping routine with rhythms that resonated throughout the theater.
For the past year, young women at Artists For Humanity (AFH) have been working on “Strictly Business – Women of Influence,” a project profiling women as decision makers in today’s society.
Through “Strictly Business” AFH provides an opportunity for young women to engage in a dialogue with women across a variety of industries, to hear first hand stories of success, and to give them access to positive role models, with the aim of inspiring them to become their own advocates and to advance their future.
The young woman at AFH have interviewed:
Martha Coakley, former Attorney General, Massachusetts
Debbie First, PR & Communications
Karen Kaplan, Chairman and CEO, Hill Holliday
Juliette Kayyem, former Assistant Secretary of Intergovernmental Affairs, United States Department of Homeland Security
Jean Kilbourne, author, speaker and film-maker
Barbara Krakow, owner Krakow Gallery
Joyce Linehan, Chief of Policy, City of Boston
Joan Y. Reede, Dean for Diversity and Community Partnership at Harvard Medical School
Shirley Lord Rosenthal, Former Senior Beauty Editor of Vogue
Sally Susman, Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Pfizer
Kelly Talamas, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Mexico & Latin America
Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion recently hosted La Lengua del Poder (The Language of Power), a showcase of young people freeing their voices through visual art, theater, music, movement, and poetry at Villa Victoria Center for the Arts in Boston. Such a terrific event – high energy, young people, and arts abound!
Here are some fun photo booth pictures of attendees telling us, “What is Your Power?”
Now it is your turn. What is your power? Please tell us in the comments below.
Congratulations to Jasmine Colon-Thomas, alum of the Care Center in Holyoke, who has been named the January Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight by Mass Poetry. Her poem “What I Do Remember” will take your breath away!
The ZUMIX Jazz Allstars are headed to Panama to perform in the 2014 Panama Jazz Festival, one of the preeminent Jazz festivals in the world, January 14-19, 2014. Enjoy this clip, “The Chicken,” from their newly released album: