When I reflect on the presence of Art in my life, I can only say it was always there. My mother is an artist and my father is a scientist who loves art. Our vacation consisted of always visiting old historic european places and museums. We appreciated art as a family.
Growing up, everyone always encouraged me to use my imagination and participated in my crazy inventions, theatre productions, ballet choreographies and costume making projects. They encouraged the development of my imagination and creativity by empowering me.
My community involvement began at fourteen. As a student in high school, I spent an entire summer of environmental volunteering, riding bikes through my hometown in Spain, trying to stop uneducated farmers from starting fires that would burn the forest, and identifying illegal spills. Later, I went on to France to work on a project where we built a recreation park out of an old castle and restored a historical washing place at a little lost town in the middle of Normandy. When I look back, I realize I’ve always been involved in some kind of community-advocacy roll.
Living life is a traumatic experience for most of human beings. If you find the way to channel frustration, ideas, creativity, imagination, fears, instead of burying them in the depths of your soul, you can overcome everything.
Whatever kind of Art form that attracts you, that’s the one is going to save you from being angry, frustrated, or incomplete.
I landed in New York eight years ago and never imagined that I could be a part of something like BxArts Factory, a project that brings together both of my passions, Art and Community. I believe Art means nothing without Community and vice versa.
By bringing art to Bronx households, I hope that everyone we work with feels as empowered and free as I felt growing up.
I’m proud to sit on the Advisory Board for the BxArts Factory, because the arts have played such a major role in my life.
I grew up in a place, and at a time where segregation in schooling was a reality. The elementary school I attended was a mix of mainly black, Native American, and Mexican American, with a few lower income whites. The teachers were all white, and most seemed much more concerned with disciplining children, rather than teaching them. Students were often yelled at and even beaten.
I had a hard time reading, which I found out later was the result of dyslexia. This often led to embarrassment in class, which I tried to cover up, like most kids, by being a class clown. My teachers didn’t see that I was struggling, but chalked it up to me being 'stupid' and undisciplined. So, I was yelled at, and at times beaten.
By the time I reached Junior High, my self-esteem was very low, and I wanted to drop out of school. I got in fights, and even joined a gang for short time. But then something amazing happened, I took my first art class, and my teacher saw real talent in the pictures I drew, and painted. They were often of bleak winter scenes, and people with arms and legs balled up and confused. She found something very expressive in them, and would ask me about what they meant. Eventually, she inspired me to paint happier pictures. I even ended up making a green, red poke-a-dot, paper mache' dragon, that she put on display.
Art gave me a voice that I didn’t have before; It opened a door inside me that I didn’t even know existed. For the first time, I had a teacher who believed in my voice.
Not long after this, I taught myself to read. In high school, I went from hovering around the bottom of the class, to hovering around the top, which landed me an acceptance into a good college.
Art, and a good teacher of art, changed my life.
So, now I do what can to share the arts with others, whether it is the visual arts, or literary arts. The BxArts Factory is all about doing this, and that is why I’m involved with them. I’m proud to sit on the Advisory Board for the BxArts Factory, because the arts have played such a major role in my life.
By Natalie Caro and Yolanda Rodriguez
As schools become increasingly test-centered and everything academic seems to be focused on standardization, the Arts are often the last bastion of imagination, creative learning, and play.
In an article written in 2008, Laurie E Hansen describes her arts in the home project and illustrates the ways in which "[a] parent art program is one way to enhance the visual arts curriculum in early childhood settings while promoting positive home-school connections and interactions with the community."
In much the same manner, our second Nesting the Arts Project workshop was an another opportunity, in a series of many, to work with 'parents as partners in Arts education.'
Virtual Resident Artist, Lovie Pignata, guided groups of parents to work together and create their original Pizza pies. Pizza pies made from paper, an easily acquired material. The activity sparked conversations and created an atmosphere of collaboration. The activity was successful on many levels that were modeled in the interactions between parents.At home, it can be used to aid in the socio-emotional development of children. Table top conversation help children foster stronger communications skills and vocabularies, which are becoming increasingly atrophied with the use of technology.
Cutting up slices is also a really great way of reinforcing quantitate reasoning skills. Sharing pizza makes everyone do fractions to make sure that we all get an equal piece of the pie!
We think you can do this at home. Below please find a supplies list and instructions. Remember to follow our Facebook group to watch videos and hear from participating parents: : Virtual Residency: Nesting the Arts Projects by BxArts Factory
Pizza Night is a fun art version of a favorite NYC staple, Pizza! Families will paint, glue, color and cut slices of pizza with their family members' favorite toppings.
--Pasteboard paper (or large piece of heavy paper) 1 piece per family/group
--Colored pencils or markers
--blank paper (decent weight for coloring, size doesn't matter, it's to make the 'toppings')
--red paint (for the sauce) with sponges
--shredded paper (a few handfuls from a shredder)
--paper plates (I have these!)
Using approx 20" circle cut from heavy paper as the 'pizza', participants will draw slices on the circle; one for each person in the group (or 2 slices each if there are 2-3 people). 'Sauce' will be painted on with red paint, allowing room for the 'crust' along the outer edge. Once dry, glue is drizzled on the sauce layer and shredded paper is applied as 'Cheese'. The pizza toppings can be used from the project's coloring sheet or drawn on blank paper and cut out. Toppings are added for each family member. Members can also make slices for one another, guessing favorite toppings before gluing them into place. The pizza is cut into slices and can be glued to paper plates and 'served'.
Art was recording music from the radio to later write the lyrics on pause and play mode in my composition book of rhymes. Art was laying on the bed for hours staring into the ceiling wondering "what is life" and my purpose as I naively scavenged through pages of the Word searching for understanding, the answer. Art was Bob Ross's happy little trees and admiring my name done in my dads signature graffiti. Art was the depth of my mothers thoughts hand written between layers of loose leaf --Art is my Life-Art became me... A kid who grew up Bronx, filled with beauty, edge and tenacity during the great 90's.
BxArts Factory began with a vision in mind. That vision is the collection of the experiences of an amazing group of people, including me. I have seen how art and community made a difference in my life as I made The Bronx my new home in 1997. I wrote, and served and that connected me to this new community. It helped me cope with the new world and language around me. Art was familiar, it was a language that I knew how to speak, it was a recognizable force that drove me closer to achieving my dreams. I saw myself in art, in a time when I didn’t belong any place or any time. Art help me remain sane, navigate my soul, my mind and my feelings as I suffered prejudice, was misguided, taken advantage off, or made fun off. I knew where to go to feel safe. Art took me back to that moment when I wrote my first poem and I loved it, took me back to the sounds of waves, of the wind, the smells of fresh brewed coffee, took me back to my mother and father’s voices, art took me back where I belong, now.
My father was a teacher, a farmer and an artist. My mother created beautiful dresses, arts and craft projects, macramé, baking goods and work as a case worker. Both my parents surrounded us with creativity. I created many memories with them. I watched my father work the clay that he collected from the banks of the river in Maunabo, and made beautiful vases. I saw how my mother turned a piece of fabric into beautiful master pieces. The patience and the love will forever stay with me. I will always remember that my parents wanted us to learn and create with them. My siblings and I became little apprentices. We worked with clay, we painted, we baked, we cut fabric, we went to collect materials to create art to the beach or country side. We were all a creative family. That was part of my upbringing. I just can’t imagine a life without art.
BxArts Factory is born out of that understanding. We know first-hand the power that art has in the lives of the misplaced. Art does make a difference in the lives of those that create it and in the lives of those that need to experience it. No one should be denied the right to create.
Bringing Art to Every Household.