Posts Tagged ‘Sweet Tree Arts’

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Everybody Loves a Good Story

October 11, 2018

Story Slam

Sweet Tree Arts in Hope presents “How I Got Here” – Story Slam! Friday, October 19, 7:00 p.m. Hosted by Hope Orchards located at 434 Camden Road in the big red barn. The doors open at 6:30 with pre-slam yummy apple pie and coffee. (Also served during the break). Tickets: $15 in advance and $17 at the door. PURCHASE TICKETS!

Kaitlin Young, 2018 Maine Teacher of the Year and music educator from SeDoMoCha School in Dover-Foxcroft will be one of the story tellers.

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Art and Yoga

June 24, 2018

Sweet Tree Arts – Hope

Interested in art and yoga? If so, Sweet Tree Arts Center in Hope is offering a class Art and Yoga Summer Adventure with Nina Devenney for children ages 6-12, July and August. For more info or to register CLICK HERE.


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The Barefoot Artist

February 5, 2018

The life and work of Lily Yeh

The documentary film by Glenn Holsten and Daniel Traub, The Barefoot Artist, will be shown on Thursday, February 8, 6:30 p.m., Sweet Tree Arts, Hope.

To read details below, click on the image.

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Deep Learning with Pottery and Poetry

January 23, 2018

YEEHA at Sweetland School

What happens when a collaboration takes place with an arts integrated school and two teaching artists? MAGIC! I had the amazing opportunity to be present while young learners were engaged in connecting their learning through pottery and poetry.

Lindsay Pinchbeck, founder and director of the SweetLand School in Hope invited poet Brian Evans-Jones and potter Tim Christensen to create connected curriculum and learning for the school’s students.

Both Brian and Tim are on the Maine Arts Commission (MAC) Teaching Artists roster and are Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teaching Artist Leaders. Lindsay is a member of the MALI Design Team and started her school three years ago.

This blog post combines the background information with the participants responses, observations, learnings, and feelings.

FROM THE COLLECTIVE VOICES OF THOSE WHO PARTICIPATED
LINDSAY
The Sweetland School recently had the good fortune of a residency with ceramist Tim and poet Brian. Both artists wove together a program sharing passion and skill in poetry and clay with the children. They created work that knocked all our socks off. Magic was the word tumbling off our tongues this week. For the teachers of Sweetland it was a wonderful opportunity to see the children with fresh eyes.

Brian shared a style of poetry called the Anaphora, with repeated lines. He pushed the children to apply real and imaginary content into their poems. He helped the children generate ideas and then edit and refine their poetry. His goal was to support each child to make a 5 line poem, they all generated much more work. I observed writing, reading, sharing, helping one another, public speaking, laughter and pure joy as the children created and shared their work. 

Tim worked in the studio over 4 days with the children to create 5 or so place settings – cups, plates, bowls, even forks and spoons were created.  The children took their lines of poetry and added the words from the poetry workshop along with images to each piece. Stories of travel and adventure, wove through their clay making experiences as Tim led the children forward in their pottery explorations.  

Children’s conversations:

  • “I know what you find in the magical misty woods!” “A smiling carrot.” 
  • “What do you do when you don’t know what to draw?” Tim “I make a mark and see where it takes me.” 
  • “You know what I have to say about this – It’s really hard but incredibly fun.”  

This week I observed a community of learners drive their learning forward. They advocated for what they needed, supported one another, weren’t afraid to ask questions and were giving and thoughtful hosts with our visiting artists. We saw the children at their best, staying focused for long 2 hours sessions in detailed work and generating work they were proud of. The power of visiting artists to inspire cannot be underestimated. In this safe environment where the children have learned to be themselves and own their ideas they were able to fly with the support of professionals who are passionate about sharing the magic of the process and their craft.  We as a staff learned alongside the children and were a community of learners together. 

To say thank you at the end of their visit the children encircled Brian on Tuesday and Tim on Thursday and sang to both visiting artists. This has officially been termed “Sweetlanded,” by Tim and it’s a pretty magical experience. When all the pieces have been fired we plan to have a special celebration of the work  at the Hope Library. Thank you Brian and Tim! and a note of thanks to Argy Nestor and the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative where this collaborative residency was hatched. It was a magical experience. 

BRIAN
At the close of my two days teaching at Sweetland Arts School, the 12 children with whom I’d been working asked me to sit in the center of a rug. Standing around me, they joined hands and began to sing. The song was new to them, so there were a few stops and starts, but they got there in the end. This is what they sang to me, twice:

In this circle deep peace

In this circle no fear

In this circle Great Happiness

In this circle safety.

This moment felt completely, beautifully appropriate for my experience on the residency. It wasn’t just that the song used anaphora (repeated phrases) to create its structure, which was the technique I had helped them learn for the poems they wrote with me. It was that, through their song and their spontaneous desire to give it to me, they were teaching me something, as they and their school had done all residency.

During the previous two days, I had sometimes felt the opposite of deep peace, great happiness, and safety: I had feared that my whole work at the school was going awry. I am not now sure why I felt this way, except that panic and a feeling of ineluctable disaster are often a part of a creative process. But by the students’ continued steady efforts, and I suppose mine too, things had turned out right in the end. Their poems collectively were funny, tender, deeply personal, wildly inventive, and above all wonderful to hear all read out one after another, as they had just done.

When I sat in the middle of their voices, I knew that they had given me this moment to teach me that I need not have feared: if you keep working, wisely and with good heart, your projects will succeed.

So what I will take away from this residency is a feeling of gratitude, not for what I taught, but for what I learned. I learned that a vision, to create a school where the arts are not peripheral but central, can be made to happen, by Lindsay and her husband Chris. I learned that children who are skillfully supported to trust their own decision-making and imaginations can invent the most marvelous things, such as the spontaneous class play involving sheep and blades of grass that was scripted and performed by the grade 1-3 group, to illustrate concepts of division and remainders, based on a poem they’d made about the number 17. I learned that there is more scope in my own teaching to allow students to make their own choices about how they grow their writing. And I learned a little, just a little, about what can be achieved if we step back, let go of control, and trust the kids, the process, and the art.

NINA
Watching the children with these visiting artists has been both inspiring and illuminating. They brought their best selves to the work each day, and churned out pieces that are jaw-drop-worthy. One word comes to mind in particular when thinking about their manner throughout this residency: absorbed. Their attention never seemed to wander, their focus remained strong, and their process was steady. The visiting artists were strong guides that brought their wealth of experience effortlessly to the children, openly sharing and encouraging progress and process along the way. The response from the children was eager and positive; the energy of creativity filled the room and excitement and pride about their work bubbled up. It was tangible.
Watching the children thank the artists at the end, was perhaps, my favorite part. They circled around each artist, holding hands and sang them a song we sing here at Sweet Tree to celebrate birthdays. A song about creating safety, deep peace and great happiness. This was both instigated and carried out by the students as an offering of gratitude, creating moments that were as beautiful as the work they made this week.
TIM
For four days, I had the great pleasure to work at Sweetland School. The students wrote poems, working for two days with Brian, an award winning poet from South Berwick. They then created 5 functional pieces of pottery, on which they etched, using the sgraffito technique. Starting with individual lines of their poems, the young artists translated verbal language into visual language, creating a place setting which could be rearranged in different settings, making mix and match pottery poems. This exercise challenged the artists to formulate imagery that was as specific as their words: no mean feat! 
For the younger artists, some in the 7 year old range, making the leap from verbal to visual was a struggle, though they were able to write their poems on the pieces, and had a ton of fun creating useful, functional pieces. For the older artists, in the 10-12 year old range, the concept came easily, and their illustrations highlighted specific points in their poetry lines, illuminating their intent, adding focus and emphasis. All of the poems, read aloud during a sharing period at the end of Brian’s time at Sweetland, were insightful and important, the young poets finding their voice easily, conveying thought and emotion beautifully.
I was struck by the powerful way that the younger students looked up to the older cohort, striving to match them in the quality of their products. I was also struck by the kindness of the students, the emphasis on community, collaboration, sharing, and creative expression at Sweetland. Real learning and growing was evident at every step!
OLIVIA
I could see the children’s minds work as they sat molding the clay and thinking about how to visually describe the words of their poems. It was incredibly inspiring and exciting to watch how naturally art meshed with all learning.
LINDSAY LAST WORDS
Thanks for sharing your very open and wonderful impressions. They are feelings I feel often and hope that others can experience too. That piece about being in the creative process and not know the road ahead or how we’ll get there is something that is so much a part of creative thinking and so scary for adults. It can be explored safely with the help of the children and I believe at the very heart of deep learning.
When we don’t know where we are going I think we are on the right track because doesn’t that mean we are learning something new?
 
Thank you all for trusting the process, believing in the arts and being able to stand back and see the magic the children have to offer, I think standing out of the way is sometimes the hardest thing to do.
Not only did this residency exemplify why bringing outstanding teaching artists into the environment is so important but that every one processed the learning so the value of it became clear.  A great big THANK YOU to Lindsay, Brian, Nina, Tim, Olivia, and the YOUNG LEARNERS for contributing to this blog post and for the great work they do every day as educators!
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18 Dresses for 2018

January 2, 2018

Happy New Year

I hope that your holiday was wonderful and that your 2018 is off to a great start. Some people reflect at this time of year – looking back and considering the past year and some people look ahead and consider what changes or resolutions might be put into action. Starting a new year can be exciting!

Me? I do a little of both – professionally and personally. On the personal level, the last three days of 2017, I sewed 18 dresses to send to Malawi. Many of the Maine Arts Education blog readers know that I traveled to Malawi with Lindsay Pinchbeck, founder and director of Sweet Trees Arts and Sweetland School in Hope. In July of 2016 we provided professional development for teachers in arts integration Mpamila Village as part of the Go! Malawi program.

Last summer I met a woman while walking to the Ogunquit Museum of Art who told me about her volunteer work with Dress a Girl Around the World. Not to long after that she sent us dresses to send to Malawi in 2017. Since September we have been meeting monthly at Sweet Tree Arts and are making more dresses for the girls in the school. In addition we will be making shorts for the boys.

When I considered how to start the new year off I decided to create something and I thought why not spend the end of the year sewing dresses – 18 to mark the new year?! In addition to creating I had plenty of time to think about the last year – where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing.

We have almost 75 dresses completed, including the 13 that students at Sweetland School are making. We’ll start the shorts later this month. If you are interested in helping, here are some suggestions:

  • If you live close by Hope, join us for sewing monthly
  • If you have small stuffed animals, like Beanie Babies that you no longer want (and they are in great condition), let me know since each dress and shorts will have one in a pocket
  • If you’d like to make a donation of undershirts or underpants, each one will have those as well included for the children.

Today, we just received donations of Beanie Babies – 74 in total. (see photos). Please let me know if you have any questions or if you’d like to help!

In addition, we are looking for teachers who’d like to travel to Malawi in July to continue the teacher workshops. More information is on the Go! Malawi site about the program. Please contact me at argy.nestor@maine.gov and I’d be glad to email you an application.

Do you have any plans to create in 2018?

 

74 Beanie Babies – 76 more needed

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Pausing

August 14, 2017

Ideas and images – writing, drawing, photographing

We are all filled with thoughts and ideas. Each of us has some type of record keeping, documenting, remembering of the ideas and thoughts. Some formally through journals, photos, shoeboxes. perhaps on blogs. Some informally in our memories, getting together with friends or family to reminisce. And multiple other ways!

Photo by Sai Mokhtari/Gothamist

Some people use an electronic devise, some use a pencil or pen and paper. The act of writing or note taking was discussed on Freakonomics on Saturday (public radio show). Research on which is more impactful on remembering – computer use or actual writing. Another segment on Saturday included “I, Pencil” an essay written by Leonard Read in 1958. The story started out with a visit to a shop in NYC owned by a young woman who moved from Ohio to open the store, CW Pencil, because she LOVES pencils. If you like pencils the website alone is a delight to the eyes. I can only imagine that the store is a wonderful place to visit. You can see some photos of the store at THIS LINK. Anyone been there? If so, Leave a Comment below so others can learn about your visit or email me and I can include an update on the Maine Arts Ed blog here. And, if you’re interested in blogs (or pencils) the owner of CW Pencil, Caroline Weaver, has a blog on the website at THIS LINK. The shop is located at 100a Forsyth Street in Manhattan. I’ve added it to my “places to go” list.

This morning I received a quote in an email from my colleague and friend Lindsay Pinchbeck. I’ve blogged about Lindsay’s work; she is the founder and director of Sweet Tree Arts Center and Sweetland School in Hope and we traveled to Malawi in July 2016 to provide professional development for Malawian teachers on arts integration. Sweetland is an arts integrated school inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach. The quote Lindsay shared is from Lucy Caulkins on Writing: “I take a moment – an image, a memory, a phrase, an idea – and I hold it in my hands and declare it a treasure.”

This blog post is really about how our experiences come together to inspire and move us to living life a bit differently. The idea of taking a moment each day to hold something in our hands coupled with what I heard on public radio and what I experienced yesterday, brings it all together for me and reminds me to PAUSE.

Here is my moment from yesterday after a few hours spent with a dear friend walking on the beach in a not so far away place with the water, the rocks, the birds, laughter, and stories.

Today Kal and I took a leisurely walk along the beach filled with rocks of difference sizes and shapes. I was struck by how angular many were. Several were split by glaciers and some by the cold and ice of winters past. The split ones still standing in formation, their negative spaces as important as the rock pieces. Each rock, water and wind worn – a variety of types – their smoothness invited me to touch them. One had sea weed attached to the top and it reminded me of screaming hair. Within 3 inches around it – perfect eyes, nose and mouth. 

Clicked this picture to remember. It first spoke to me without the eyes, nose and mouth. LOVE the beach – especially when it is remote (yet not far) and provides me a moment to insert myself into the natural world. 

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Story SLAM

March 12, 2017

March 24 – Sweet Tree Arts

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