Inner City Youth Excel in the Arts
October 11, 2006 3:31 PM
Some Oakland junior high and high school students have found an outlet for their artistic expression thanks to a non-profit organization entitled Opera Piccola’s ArtGate project, an after-school program dedicated to enriching the development of youth through the arts.
An installation entitled “Let Me Tell You What’s Really Going On in the World,” will showcase the self-reflective and poetic works of more than 50 of these students from Claremont Middle School, Oakland Tech High School, and the former Carter Middle School. The exhibit will be on display in SF State's Art Gallery from Oct. 12–Nov. 8.
According to Justa Mui, the program coordinator for Art Gate, Opera Piccola started out in 1989 as a community theatre group providing community-involved performances in and around Oakland.
ArtGate started in 1993 as an after-school program that provides students with professional artists who teach classes ranging from visual arts, dance and theatre. The program is funded through grants.
“Our mission is to provide art to inner-city kids,” said the 31-year-old Mui. “Art education supports, enhances, and enriches their self-esteem.”
According to Carolyn Norr, who teaches the after-school program at Claremont Middle School, and also facilitated the works for the show, the lack of arts funding in public schools can have a negative impact on the development of a student’s critical thinking skills.
California ranked last among the 50 states in terms of arts funding in the public school system, according to a study done by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.
“Art is a way for them to lead," said Norr, an SF State alumni who majored in arts communication and the environment. “Art programs allow students to develop their own analysis on what is going on in the world.”
Cullen Bennett Jr., 11, attends Claremont Middle School and is enrolled in ArtGate. He said that when he heard of the program, he approached his parents immediately with the idea.
“It’s a lot of fun, but it’s really a lot of work,” said Bennett, a 6th grader who aspires to be a professional football player when he grows up.
Bennett wrote a poem for the exhibit entitled, “Just Because Your Short Doesn’t Mean Your Not Equal To Me.” He said he is often teased at school about his short stature, and the poem captures this frustration.
Jaime Schwartz, the art gallery manager and co-curator for the exhibit, said that she approached Norr – a long time friend – with the idea to host the exhibit in the Art Gallery.
“This show for me is not necessarily about the art work, but about the kids,” said Schwartz, 29, a graduate student majoring in museum studies at SF State. “I just feel like this program is so important that I wanted to give these kids a different kind of space.”
Christopher Stevenson, 13, said his father signed him up for ArtGate after completing a similar program the previous year. Stevenson aspires to be a rapper.
“I’ve gained knowledge and I can express myself,” said Stevenson, a 7th grader at Claremont Middle School, referring to his experience with ArtGate. "We get to say what we feel, and I love that.”
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University