Lab Session Descriptions

Alchemy: When Hope Turns to Certainty

led by Melissa Alexis

The lab session, "Alchemy: When Hope Turns to Certainty," is an exploration of the energetic spectrum from hopeful expectation to clarity of conviction. This spectrum represents the wisdom of ancestors who faced traumatic breaks in their lineage. Focusing on African and African Diaspora traditions, participants will discuss a tracing - from wounds to resiliencies - through to self and collective healing. Using movement research, verbal dialogue, and reflective journaling and sharing, we will explore what mindfulness has to contribute to the issue of equity and inclusion.


What can we learn from the collaborative art-making process in pursuit of racial equity and institutional change?

LED BY Rachel Watts & Nancy Kleaver

This interactive, arts-based lab is geared towards practitioners who have been challenged with managing up and around when advocating for racial equity and institutional change within their organizations. Framed by literature and personal case studies, we will artistically explore specific equity and inclusion issues in the arts education field. Through their creative work, participants will be guided to find ways to make institutional and systemic racism more deeply understood, felt and heard within their organizations in order to make noticeable shifts in organizational culture. This will be done while paying attention to addressing the emotional and professional risks that come from doing this work. In addition, we will explore simple actions we can model to be the change we want to see and, consequently, create a contagion effect within our respective organizations.


How can we use our personal geographies to transform classrooms into spaces of radical love?

LED BY Natalia Torres, Lisa Green & Ellen Hagan

We will be building small "living" altars that include poetry, movements and collage making. The prompts for the art making include: Who are your people? What are the places that have shaped your spirit? When has your racial identity made you feel safe? When has your racial identity made you feel proud? Who has loved you unstoppably, relentlessly? We will facilitate a hands-on journey through the different art forms, allowing participants to engage in an experiential exploration of their personal geographies: the people, places, and stories that have shaped them personally and artistically. There will also be space for community building, individual reflection, partner sharing and group imagining.


How might we find hope in the gift of student work?

led by Jeff Hopkins

Where does an arts educator find hope when facing fatigue, frustration, or exhaustion? Most often I am reenergized by the work of my students. I find hope in how a student moves a paintbrush playfully across a paper, or in a student’s sculpture that finally stands tall after repeatedly falling over. Perhaps that is what makes us educators: that we are able to see things in student work that others may not, and that we are able to transform those observations into hope. In this workshop, I will create a wall of dozens of images of New York City student work that I have collected over two decades. I will ask participants to spend time with the work and choose a piece that inspires hope – not necessarily because of the content or message but perhaps because of the artistic choices a student has made. Then, each participant will engage in a dialogue with the selected piece by creating a work of art or writing (or both) in response. MY hope is that finding beauty - and voice - in this student work will help to remind us that this is what our work as arts educators is about.


Memes as digital graffiti and political cartoons

led by Ashley Woodson & Lex hunter

Drawing on hip-hop pedagogies and critical race humor, this lab celebrates the anti-rape commentary of memes created by Black high schoolers in a summer credit recovery program. When connected to rich histories of graffiti and political cartooning in Black communities, the creation of memes becomes a process of empowerment, and the sharing of memes becomes a way to “tag”, disrupt and transform consciousness on social issues. This lab offers important historical grounding for educators who hope to make connections between contemporary online activism and art foundations.


"Art Makes Me Feel Like. Human Being" Shay American Horse, Lame Deer Junior High School student

led by susan wolfe & Kojiro Umezaki

This lab session will introduce the arc and key milestones of a seven-year collaboration between Silkroad and the Lame Deer schools and involve creating a piece of art in the lab that draws on from the student ideas generated over the life of the collaboration. Over the course of our time together in the lab we will explore how art makes us feel more like a human being, a quotation from one of the young people from the Lame Deer reservation, and how listening to student and teacher driven ideas helped SR co-create responsive and meaningful activities that shaped the collaboration to come. Possible lab activities may include participants exploring notions of home through associations with a place or with a food, sharing stories, activities with VR technology as a way to understand home or sounds of home, and creating a collective soundscape of home. Part of this session will also identify key learnings for Silkroad but also outstanding missteps and ongoing questions. Assuming practicing art makes us feel more like a human being, how does this translate into action in the world? And what are the ramifications for SR as it listens, designs and partners with other cultural institutions and communities? How does listening to students help foster the design of art activities that help all of us, from vastly different backgrounds, feel more like a human being?


All American Boys - PRESENT.

led by Joy Arcolano, Jody Drezner Alperin & X. Alexander Durden

You are part of the ensemble chorus, who help create the world and share the story, in an interactive experience of an excerpt of ALL AMERICAN BOYS, a new play adapted by Brooklyn, NY’s Off The Page from the award-winning novel by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. We can’t wait to add your voice! ALL AMERICAN BOYS is the story of the violent arrest of a black teenager, the white teen who witnesses it, and how it impacts their communities over the course of a week. There will be a post-experience talk back, led by a team of emerging leaders and seasoned professionals in the arts education world. We will discuss the issues raised in the play as well as examine how making art across lines of difference, and blurring the edges of actor and audience, can be an active practice of hope. Our reflective practice will focus on a generative session around what actions we - you and us! - can take next to build bridges of hope in and across communities. Come ready to lend your voice, your passion, and your hope to help create this piece together.


How can arts educators support students in developing agency over their own stories?

led by Jori Ketten & Ashley Frith

Our students are creative, full people, with important stories to tell – but the world we live in doesn’t readily support them in connecting to their power and potential. As educators, what are the practices we can bring into our classrooms (traditional and non-traditional education spaces) and into student-teacher relationships to help young people develop agency over their stories? How can we learn from our own experiences and struggles as a way to inform this work? This session will explore the work of the MusicWorks Network, an interlinked cohort of 10 youth development music education organizations committed to wrestling with the intersection of social justice values and string instrument pedagogy, with a focus on active facilitation processes developed by MusicWorks Network Fellow Ashley Frith.

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