Putting the Emphasis on Process - 10 Questions with Visual Artist and Arts Integration Specialist Natalie Hyder
Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) has made a pledge to revitalize education through use of the arts. In an effort to support this goal, DCPS created the position of Arts Integration Specialist and hired artist and arts educator Natalie Hyder to serve in the role. Going into the 2017-2018 academic year, four schools in Duval County were designated as arts integration schools. Those schools include Hyde Park Elementary School, Hyde Grove Early Learning Center, John Love Early Learning Center, and Brentwood Elementary School. Within these schools, it is the mission of DCPS to facilitate a cultural shift, improve teaching and learning, and ensure the success of every student enrolled.
Hyder received her undergraduate degree in studio art and art history from Florida State University in 2008. In 2016 she completed graduate school at the University of Florida, where she studied art education. Hyder served in the classroom as an arts educator for eight years until she moved with her husband from Tallahassee to Jacksonville in the summer of 2017.
Upon arriving in Jacksonville, Hyder became involved with Lift Every Student, an arts integration initiative being led by Any Given Child Jacksonville (AGC), the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville (CCGJ), and DCPS. Through this collaborative program, four artists will instruct students in art integration projects while co-teaching with DCPS teachers. Many artists applied for this paid opportunity and ten artists were selected to go through arts integration training provided by The Kennedy Center. During the two-day training session, artists developed residency plans that could be implemented within the classroom to meet curriculum standards.
Last night I attended the opening of "Homeland," an exhibition of new work by Ronnie Land (R. Land). The event was held at The Second Floor in Jacksonville's historic Five Points neighborhood. Originally from Jacksonville, R. Land is a professional visual artist living in Atlanta, Georgia and he has not exhibited in Jacksonville in 17 years. It is an understatement to say that Jacksonville was excited for the return of R. Land.
R. Land's work embraces weirdoism. His creates characters and creatures using a fun and funky color palette. His work indicates that he isn't afraid to venture outside of conventional norms. R. Land and his work have been embraced by many of Jacksonville's businesses, venues, and art appreciators, and since the artist moved to Atlanta he has worked on projects for clients such as Cartoon Network's Adult Swim and David Cross.
Last night I traveled down to St. Augustine with Liy Kuonen and Jim Benedict, two artists and professors of art at Jacksonville University, to see Langhorne Slim perform as part of the Sing Out Loud Festival. With the assistance of some major community supporters and sponsors, the festival stretches over three consecutive weekends, features hundreds of local, regional, and national performers, takes place at venues throughout St. Augustine, and is FREE to attend.
With a population of nearly 900,000 residents, it should come as no surprise that there are many different opinions on the type of city that Jacksonville, Florida should aim to be. Among the sea of opinions, however, one voice recently proclaimed thoughtful and forward thinking sentiments. That voice belongs to City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche. During her Installation Ceremony, which was held on June 29, 2017, Council President Brosche stated in simple yet bold terms that she aims for Jacksonville to be "the best city in the world for a child to grow up in."
Now the question comes, what metrics do you employ when quantifying or qualifying how well a city serves its youth population? Sherrod Brown, Co-Founder and Director of The Posh Factory Performing Arts Center, believes without question that one such indispensable metric is a child's access to and instruction in the arts. The Posh Factory offers dance training and education in the style of ballet, jazz, modern, and hip-hop, as well as vocal and musical theatre training. The organization does not believe in turning away any child that has a passion for music, dance, or acting. Brown and his co-founding partner, Rashon Horne, raise funds to support children of low and no income families through tuition scholarships.
Brown's career as a performer has taken him around the world. Notably, he has performed with Mariah Carey, Miley Cyrus, and Debbie Allen; and he has appeared on BET, ABC, and the Disney Channel. No matter where or with whom Brown performed, how his skills and passion could be applied in his hometown of Jacksonville to positively impact the community remained on his mind. It was out of this desire to serve that the Posh Factory was established.
Last week I was asked by the Arts and Entertainment Editor at Folio Weekly, Madeleine Peck Wagner, to be a contributing writer for the publication. My first assignment was a 500 word writeup about "Solar-Powered Spacesuit," a collaborative exhibition by the Blessyourheartcrew. Here are photos from the exhibit, which is currently on display at FSCJ's Kent Campus Gallery. You can read the article HERE.
I, on behalf of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, organize a monthly networking event on the second Tuesday of every month. This informal meet up is intended for artists, arts professionals, arts educators, and arts appreciators. The venue rotates amongst Jacksonville's arts and cultural institutions and has been held at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, CoRK Arts District, and the Museum of Science and History (MOSH). ESAL has been received well by the community and we typically attract a diverse group of 30-60 individuals.
This month the event was hosted again at MOSH. It was originally scheduled to occur on September 12, but had to be postponed as a result of Hurricane Irma. Immediately following ESAL, MOSH launched their inaugural Starry Night Open Mic on the museum's rooftop. With a tremendous view of downtown, I suspect this event will gain traction amongst Jacksonville's musicians, poets, lyricists, and spoken word artists.
In February 2017 the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Jacksonville hired Caitlin Doherty as the museum's Director. Prior to MOCA, Doherty worked as the Chief Curator and Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University. It was in this role that Doherty worked closely with world renowned photographer Gideon Mendel.
Mendel has spent the past 10 years traveling the globe while working on a project titled "Drowning World." He travels to areas affected by flooding and take photos to support his series "Submerged Portraits," "Floodlines," and "Watermarks." Doherty curated an installation of Mendel's in Michigan, where the photos were installed along the banks of the river, giving viewers a heightened level of context.
Mendel's work exists at the intersection of fine art and disaster journalism. He uses his photography to bring attention to the effects of global warming and climate change. His work is both beautiful and haunting.
In the wake of Hurricane Irma, Doherty called Mende,l who was in Houston photographing the effects of Hurricane Harvey, and told him that he needed to visit Northeast Florida. The next morning Mendel was on a plane to Jacksonville. His photographs, which were taken in areas such as San Marco and Middleburg, will be in next week's issue of The Guardian.
With Doherty at the realm, the team at MOCA exhibited a nimbleness not often seen in cultural institutions. They worked diligently to arrange for Mendel to give a guest lecture, and they only had 24-hours to plan and promote the event. Also included in the evening was Northeast Florida photographer Bob Self, who is the staff photographer for the Florida Times-Union. Self is no stranger to disaster journalism, but he spoke to how it takes on a whole different whirlwind of emotions when it is occurring in your own backyard.
The evening started with Doherty delivering opening remarks that were incredibly touching. She spoke to the devastation of Hurricane Irma and extended her condolences to all those impacted. She also expressed MOCA's solidarity with the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, whose proximity to the St. Johns River resulted in damage to the museum's gardens, which have long served as an asset to the community.
I recently came across this list by Renny Pritikin while conducting research on the topic of examining a art scene's pulse. Pritikin did a great job of summarizing what's necessary to have a vibrant art scene, although his list only takes into consideration the visual arts. I'm interested in developing a blog post related to this list, but also taking into consideration performance and literary arts.
A Marker of Interesting Thinking - 10 Questions with Mixed-Media Visual Artist and Folio Weekly Arts and Entertainment Editor Madeleine Peck Wagner
Madeliene Peck Wagner is a mixed-media visual artist. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Clark University (Worcester, Massachusetts) and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Savannah College of Art and Design(SCAD)(Savannah, Georgia). Peck Wagner explores with both form and materials to create work that challenges societal norms surrounding human behavior. Her body of work examines concepts such as consumption as it relates to capitalism and imperfection as it relates to beauty.
Cathedral Arts Project is hosting an exhibition of Peck Wagner's work in the Heather Moore Community Gallery during the fourth quarter of 2017, with an opening reception scheduled to be held on September 20th. The exhibition, titled "The Labor of Learning," will feature new work by Peck Wagner, some of which the artist has dedicated the last three years to developing. In her latest series, Peck Wagner utilizes two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms to visualize an internal monologue pertaining to body composition and how our mental perceptions are sometimes exaggerated forms of reality. Her series illustrates that the concept of beauty is subjective to the beholder and that there is no textbook definition of allurement.
From 2010 through 2017, Peck Wagner participated in an artist in residence program at UF Health Jacksonville where she employed the arts through specialized workshops for psychiatric and long-term care units. Peck Wagner designed projects for dementia and trauma patients, as well as patients battling Parkinson's disease. These programs focused on the healing aspects of the arts and the ability of artistic practices to assist with pain management.
The Blessyourheartcrew has a collaborative group show opening at the FSCJ Kent Campus Gallery on Tuesday, September 19. The exhibition is titled "Solar-Powered Spacesuit." The Blessyourheartcrew consists of visual artists Christy Frazier, Shaun Thurston, Matthew Abercrombie, Dustin Harewood, John O'Brian, and Mark Ferreira.
The group has been working out of the Phoenix Art District in Jacksonville's historic Springfield neighborhood. I had the pleasure of conducting a studio visit to see their works in progress.