Caption: Seniors create ceramic tiles with artist Jennifer Wade.
Since April, seniors at two senior centers in Coney Island, JASA Senior Alliance and the Coney Island Seaside Innovative Senior Center, have been creating ceramic tiles inspired by the ocean and their community. During weekly two-hour workshops led by artist Jennifer Wade, participants have explored the art of clay-making. They first worked together to determine a theme for their public mural installation, which incorporates tiles from both sites, and decided to focus on the lasting impact of Superstorm Sandy on their community. The project will be installed on a relic fountain on the Coney Island boardwalk at 21st Street as part of the ongoing community renewal effort after the storm.
As a resident of the Seagate community who was profoundly impacted by the storm, Jennifer Wade is deeply committed to renewal. Her husband Patrick Denis is also involved as the installer of the final work. The couple’s passion for the project is infectious.
Throughout the program, senior participants learned techniques for working with clay, glazes, and underglazes and interpreting 2-D and 3-D images in clay relief. The program, supported by The MetLife Foundation Creative Aging Program through the National Guild for Community Arts Education, provides hands-on arts activities that combat isolation and social disconnect among seniors. Participants have noted the impact of the program:
“How important it is to try new things like ceramics. I enjoy the class. I benefit from it. I look at this stuff and say ‘I did it myself!’”
“This is my first ceramics class. I’m so proud of myself! I always thought of my daughter as an artist, but I’ve made some great work! You never know what’s inside of you.”
“I dreamed of doing sculpture all my life but never had the opportunity. This is very important to me. This is how I can improve myself.”
We are thrilled to see the benefits of the creative process and excited to celebrate the seniors’ work at the public unveiling on October 29.
Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide (SPARC) is a community arts engagement program that places artists-in-residence at senior centers across the five boroughs of New York City. SPARC provides selected artists with a stipend and access to workspace in senior centers in exchange for the creation and delivery of arts programming for seniors. Selected artists will engage participating seniors in an art project or series of cultural programs over the course of the residency, which will also include a public program component – exhibits, readings, performances, open houses or other cultural interactions open to the surrounding community.
Get an overview of SPARC and learn about the components of a well-prepared application at the Q&A Information Session:
Thursday September 12, 5:30PM
Department of Cultural Affairs
31 Chambers Street, 10007
Red Hook students attend class at BAC in DUMBO. Photo: BAC.
This summer, 38 young adults participating in “PhotoVoice” have been exploring photography as a means of visual storytelling. Through funding from the New York City Mayor’s Office Center for Economic Opportunity, and in partnership with the Red Hook and Brownsville Community Justice Centers, BAC is working with teaching artist Brenna McLaughlin as well as teaching artists Russell Frederick and Sam Barzilay from United Photo Industries (UPI) to provide 2 participatory photography residencies. The artists have taught technical skills in photography while also sharing the historical and social context of photography with a focus on social justice.
Participatory photography gives youth the opportunity to connect in a visual dialogue that often excludes them. This project engages students through a series of workshops and class critiques, empowering students to craft visual stories from their own unique perspectives. Each student selected their final projects to engage the public on topics that inspire or concern them. In addition to exhibits in their neighborhoods, student work will be exhibited alongside professional artists from around the world as part of Photoville in DUMBO from September 19-29.
Student artwork by Monica Hawkins (left) and Keson Simon (right).
During the final Brownsville class on August 16, one student expressed the impact of this program: “This is a stepping stone for my career. I’m more confident going after what I want. There are people in Brownsville who wants good – not just old people. We, the young, we’re the future.” Other responses to the teaching artist’s question, “What did you learn or gain from this class?” included:
“I learned how to get along with people – interact. I got a better understanding of how to complete something – really work.”
Brownsville students. Photo: Russell Frederick.
“I got to work with people in a community I used to think of as small, but now I see as big – and I see what an impact we can make. I also learned how to use my camera – not just using it, but control it to make what I want. I learned what a network is.”
1st graders enjoy their ceramics residency with teaching artists Gaia Starr & Peter Barnett. Photo: Misun Jin.
- A student uses ceramic tools to refine her coil bowl in the residency with teaching artists Beth Krebs & Nicoleta Coman. Photo: Misun Jin
For the 3rd year at PS 277K in Gerritsen Beach, 1st graders are learning to create sculptures with clay and use ceramics tools. Students have been happily getting their hands messy during after-school residencies this spring with teaching artists Beth Krebs, Nicoleta Coman, Peter Barnett and Gaia Starr. They have built sculptures using various techniques including pinching, coiling, slab construction, slip and score, molding, relief, and additive and subtractive methods.
Our teaching artists integrated social studies into the program, focusing thematically on community and prompting students to create artworks based on concepts they’re learning in social studies class. Students also put their literacy skills to use writing artist statements.