Monday, April 23, 2012

The New York Institute For Special Education at the Whitney Museum of Art

Art Beyond Sight and the Whitney Museum of Art collaborated for the third year to bring together teens from the New York Institute for Special Education and teens from the Youth Insight (YI) program. The evening, held when the museum was closed to the general public started cheerfully with everyone getting acquainted to each other and telling jokes to break the ice. “Have you ever been to the Whitney Mu
seum of American Art?” asked Danielle Linzer, the Manager of Access and Community Programs. “Probably, but I don’t remember,” respond Tiasheem nonchalantly, which got some chuckles from his classmates, Maurice, Clay and Khalique. The YI members took this opportunity to introduce the museum to the group, passing around a small reproduction of it so the students could better understand its architecture and size. Everyone then moved into the galleries, where Evelyn, one of the YI teens, was nervously waiting to start her presentation of the” Circus,” by Alexander Calder. Everyone listened attentively; however, the presence of a “toy circus” in a major museum was quite puzzling to some. Evelyn provided a thorough description of the materials used to make the 70 characters and numerous other accessories that comprise the piece; she spoke about their mechanisms and how Calder brought everything to life by adding animations. YI teens had also brought replicas of some of the characters; these had been made by museum staff. We continued to a new artwork, this one by Eva Hesse, “No title,” a bunch of rope hanging from the ceiling looking like a “spider web.” Another enigmatic and ambiguous piece, it perfectly reflected the rest of the works of art the group explored that evening. Izzie, our next tour guide, did a fine job at explaining the artist’s process , and inviting her audience to ponder the meaning of this work and how much of its actual shape depends on the artist’s intention. The Whitney Biennial was our next stop where we looked at two more pieces by contemporary artists, including one by Sam Lewitt that uses ferromagnetic liquid poured bi-weekly over plastics and other magnets, as well as fan, to emphasize the fluid movements. This was another piece that left everyone with more questions than answers. We ended the tour with an even more bizarre work, a handle from a gas pump covered with oatmeal, a stranger assemblage of everyday objects. By that time, YI teens were relieved all went well and others had built up an appetite. We headed to one of the Whitney’s conference rooms where snacks and refreshments awaited. Once settled in, the teens discussed more pressing business: What’s your school like? What do you do outside of school? Go ball?! What are you reading? Hunger Games! … Me, too.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Transforming New York Skyline

Art Beyond Sight held its first 2012 art workshop at the Andrew Heiskell Library on Tuesday, April 10. Participants were challenged to recall a New York City scene they witnessed, thinking about what they saw, heard, smelled or touched, and the main elements of the scene. If nothing came to mind, they were asked to create an imaginary scene in their minds. Given a stencil of the NYC skyline, they then (re)- created their scene using the collage technique. The accompanying photos show their results. Participants also shared stories about their NYC scenes. Louisa explained that she wanted to create a city scene that would have appealed to her dad; it includes houses, trees, water points and parks. Having grown up in the country, her father never set foot in a city, expecting steel buildings and a too high-pace life.

Dressing for Success II at the New York Institute for Special Education

What a wonderful show the students from the Institute gave us. On Monday April 2, students from both Schermerhorn and Van Cleve concluded the Art Beyond Sight program by performing songs they had written and choreographed in class. This followed 16 weeks of work, during which students discussed their personal styles, dress codes, and visited museums to learn more about fashion history. Students developed their show from A to Z, creating costume pieces, murals, the stage set and lighting.
Students gave a fantastic and energized performance that everyone greatly enjoyed. Congratulations!

The 2012 Art Beyond Sight Awards at the Lavelle School for the Blind

The Dressing for Success II program focused on fashion choices, personal style and dress codes. Students from the Lavelle School for the Blind had lively discussions about what’s appropriate to wear at jobs, at church or at a party. They created their own clothing designs, they wrote songs about their personal style, and tested perfumes and accessories. On March 28th, students celebrated the end of this program offered by Art Beyond Sight. After weeks of rehearsals, they performed the songs they had written and choreographed in class. The show, emceed by Juan Gil, a senior at Lavelle and an amateur rapper, drew family members, friends and classmates.
At the end of the performance, students were presented with a diploma marking the very stylish end of 16 weeks of hard work.