Posts Tagged ‘Waterfall Arts’

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In Today’s News

March 10, 2019

Waterfall Arts

Photo and Pen Bay Pilot article by Erica Thomas

The Pen Bay Pilot did a great job covering the recent Young Artists Takeover at Waterfall Arts recently. You can read all about it and see superb photos of the March 1 gala event by CLICKING HERE!

Over 300 people attended the event – CONGRATULATIONS to the wonderful work going on at Waterfall Arts in Belfast!

Check out the photos in the “bonus pics” by CLICKING HERE!

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Young Artists’ Gallery Takeover

February 28, 2019

Waterfall Arts – Belfast

Years of fabulous quality arts programming for learners of all ages and now for the fourth year in a row about 200 pieces of artwork will be on display. Visit Waterfall Arts in Belfast for the opening: Friday, March 1, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

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Caitlin Hunt’s Story

November 29, 2018

Samantha Smith Challenge

Thank you to Caitlin Hunt, Warsaw Middle School teacher, who shares an amazing story about her students participation in the Samantha Smith Challenge. Yesterday’s blog post provides an overview of Americans Who Tell the Truth and the Samantha Smith Challenge and how you can participate this year. This is a powerful statement that Caitlin shared from her experience of bringing art into her classroom: “Perhaps it is this empathy borne out of their art that helps them to better understand the true meaning of social justice.” Below is Caitlin’s, and her students, story in her own words…

Artist Robert Shetterly speaking to students

I have been a middle school teacher for 13 years, and I can honestly say that the Samantha Smith Challenge, (SSC) which my students and I participated in last year, provided some of the most important and exciting learning we have ever had in my class. SSC is a program of Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) established by artist Robert Shetterly. Many of the 70 students I taught in my 8th grade social studies class last year were not academically motivated and struggled just to complete assignments. Many of them required considerable support, and had completely lost interest in school. However, I noticed those who had become apathetic were constantly drawing during my class and I realized that art might be a motivator for my students. At that time, I had no idea that bringing the arts into my social studies classes would dramatically improve my students’ knowledge, their confidence, and their ability to empathize with people in situations much different than their own. And perhaps it is this empathy borne out of their art that helps them to better understand the true meaning of social justice.

Student created flyer for gallery opening

UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Together the students and I studied the United Nations document, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights as our anchor text. After they developed an in depth understanding of the 30 basic human rights outlined by the document, they chose the one that was most meaningful to them. Each student was charged with researching current events around the world, to see if the human right which they chose was being denied anyone, or any groups of people around the world. They focused in on this particular event, and learned as much about it as possible. It was interesting to me how much the information they discovered shocked them. Many of them had no idea about the extent of these injustices. After my students showed a full understanding of the injustice, they designed and created works of art, and wrote artist statements, based on their understanding of the denial of this human right.

Art in the Lobby

We titled our project You Be The Judge: Justice Through Art. Our mission statement, the art work, news and images of the students’ work in gallery displays, and our thank-yous can be viewed on the website the students and I created after we finished the project.

AUTHENTIC WORK

The students knew their work would be shown in at least one gallery display. We were fortunate to be able to set up our week long gallery display in an old school house that we named that currently serves as an office building in our town of Pittsfield. We named it Lancy Street Gallery. The students became docents, showing community members around the gallery, and explaining individual pieces to anyone visiting. Their understanding of

Bailey Working

this authentic audience, along with their commitment to the issues they researched, helped them create and participate in quality work throughout the project. We all worked extremely hard to complete pieces, edit artist statements, hang the gallery display, and show the work. What was so different about this project was that the students were no longer struggling with motivation. They saw the importance in what they were doing. They understood that they could teach their fellow community members. Their work reached beyond the local gallery we created with showings at the Universalist Meeting House in Pittsfield, Waterfall Arts  “Young Artists’ Gallery Takeover” exhibition in Belfast, and Art in the Lobby at Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville.

Holocaust and Human Rights Center, Augusta

Along the way, as we were in the thick of the rigorous work it takes to pull off a project like this, it was connections to the real world outside the classroom walls that kept us going. We were able to visit the Holocaust and Human Rights Center in Augusta that, at the time, had an amazing exhibit called America Now… A Dialogue. We also visited the Portland Museum of Art where students participated in case studies to look into other works of art connected to social justice.

VISIT FROM ROBERT SHETTERLY

Universalist Meeting House

As a part of participating in the Samantha Smith Challenge, artist Robert Shetterly visited our school. His talks inspired many students to dive deeper into the current events they found. He challenged them to look at situations from multiple perspectives and he helped make connections between my students and some of the “courageous citizens” he painted. These experts shared their first hand knowledge with my students. It was so powerful for the kids to hear from people who work on the front lines of the issues they had become so passionate about.

DISTRICT REQUIREMENTS

Visit to Portland Museum of Art

Before we started the project I identified the district standard we would be addressing throughout, “researching, selecting, and presenting a position on a current social studies issue by proposing and revising research questions, and locating and selecting information from multiple and varied sources.” I used our district learning targets, to create a rubric for assessment. In order to meet standards, students had to do the following: 1. Summarize and interpret information found in varied sources and from fieldwork, experts, and interviews. 2. Distinguish between primary and secondary sources. 3. Evaluate and verify the credibility of the information found in print and non-print sources. 4. Make individual and collaborative decisions on matters related to social studies using relevant information and research and discussion skills. Of course, along the way we participated in mini-lessons geared towards each part of these learning targets as well.

HIGH EXPECTATIONS LEAD TO PRIDE

Jackson, Docent at Lancy Street Gallery

After completion of the entire project, I sat down one weekend to assess their work using the rubric I had created at the beginning. When I came back to school on Monday, I told the students how fun and exciting it was to assess their work. Authentic, real-world application of their knowledge had earned nearly all them 4s or “exceeds standards” on their work. I told them I felt like Oprah doling out 4s instead of cars, “You get a 4, and you get a 4, and you get a 4!” Although, as I write this, I realize how ironic the term “exceeds standards” is. It was always my expectation that students would apply their new found knowledge in a real world situation; that was the whole point of the project. If we set our expectations high, students will rise to meet them, and then we can all be proud of the work we accomplish. Perhaps one of the most difficult, yet important parts of teaching is finding a way to inspire students to rise to those expectations. The Samantha Smith Challenge helped provide that inspiration for my students.

Part of the exhibit at Waterfall Arts, Belfast

Lancy St. Gallery Pittsfield

Ruby Working

Lancy Street Gallery Pittsfield

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Visual Thinking Strategies

July 27, 2018

Waterfall Arts

Every so often I meet educators who are not familiar with Visual Thinking Strategies or VTS as it is commonly called. Waterfall Arts, a community arts center in Belfast, provides a program using VTS. As part of their outreach efforts of the Youth and Family Outreach (YFO) program at Waterfall Arts, program coordinator Bridget Matros offers Visual Thinking Strategies training to teachers in area schools. These strategies are activity used in the YFO after school programs and are also utilized in field trips to Waterfall Arts. Teaching Artist Bridget Matros has put together the information below (taken from the VTS site). Thank you Bridget! She is also on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist rosterWaterfall Arts programs are comprehensive and they provide multiple programs for learners of all ages.

Many teachers in Maine, visual arts and others, use VTS in their classrooms. Several years ago we provided an all day workshop on the topic. Once reading this blog post, if you’re interested in learning more please contact me at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

What is VTS?

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is a method initiated by teacher-facilitated discussions of art images and documented to have a cascading positive effect on both teachers and students. It is perhaps the simplest way in which teachers and schools can provide students with key behaviors sought by Common Core Standards: thinking skills that become habitual and transfer from lesson to lesson, oral and written language literacy, visual literacy, and collaborative interactions among peers.

VTS provides a way to jumpstart a process of learning to think deeply applicable in most subjects from poetry to math, science and social studies. Art is the essential first discussion topic because it enables students to use existing visual and cognitive skills to develop confidence and experience, learning to use what they already know to figure out what they don’t; they are then prepared to explore other complex subject matter alone and with peers.

How does it work?

In VTS discussions teachers support student growth by facilitating discussions of carefully selected works of visual art.

          Teachers are asked to use three open-ended questions:

  • What’s going on in this picture?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What more can we find?3 Facilitation Techniques:
  • Paraphrase comments neutrally
  • Point at the area being discussed
  • Linking and framing student commentsStudents are asked to:
  • Look carefully at works of art
  • Talk about what they observe
  • Back up their ideas with evidence
  • Listen to and consider the views of others
  • Discuss multiple possible interpretations
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Who Are They? Waterfall Arts – Part 5

April 24, 2017

The Waterfall Family

This is the fifth of five blog posts in a series about Waterfall Arts, located in Belfast, and are posted April 20-24. Information is provided for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers to learn about community organizations and institutions that provide educational opportunities in the arts. You will learn that they are partnering with other organizations and schools to extend learning opportunities, not supplant.

Waterfall Arts (WA) was founded in 2000 on a rustic site in Montville by a group of local artists. Seventeen years later now located in a repurposed old schoolhouse in Belfast, WA is a vibrant midcoast arts hub with over 6000 visitors per year, still committed to its mission “to create community in harmony with nature through the transformative power of the arts.” WA offers resources to artists and arts enthusiasts of all ages, including classes, exhibitions, events, open media-specific studios (clay, print, and photography), free/sliding scale arts after-school programs for 4th-12th graders, public art projects, long-term studio space, and short-term rental facilities. As the co-founders and those involved are dedicated to an accessible, environmentally-sustainable center, they have embarked on a campaign to transform their old building into a model of creative energy efficiency and ADA-compliance.  Waterfall Arts is located at 265 High Street in Belfast. Website: http://waterfallarts.org, contact: info@waterfallarts.org or call 207.338.2222.

Waterfall Arts, Belfast

It was our Facility Manager’s birthday recently. Which is an awesome thing since we love to celebrate birthdays here at Waterfall Arts. Not just any ol’ office b-day party with a store-bought cake and candles, but a party with singing, stories, baskets of trinkets and special treats. One of us bakes, another brings a card and we each share a little of our own world. Lou and her husband process huge batches of the most delicious maple syrup – we each get a jar in our birthday basket. We give souvenirs from our journeys or samples of our artistic endeavors. We all eat way too much chocolate… We’re not just a team, we’re a family.

What does it take to create this dream team? Some say diversity. Some say clear goals and strategy. A fearless leader/visionary. Individual commitment. The perfect product or idea. Certainly public interest, funding, and creative thinking. Sure, all of these contribute to creating the perfect team — and the Waterfall team can check all these boxes. In addition we have an amazing group of volunteers. An active Board of Directors, successful granting records, dedicated donors, fantastic artist educators and a talented staff. And the community that convinced Waterfall Arts to move to Belfast 10 years ago continues to jump into our innovative programs and services.

This is all great, right? But there is more.  As a non-profit organization, Waterfall’s team raises its entire budget every year. This funding — grants, business sponsors and private donations — determines our capabilities. It also means that staff positions are part-time and salaries are lower than other comparable jobs in the area. Volunteers are crucial to successful project management. Reliance on city, state and federal spending priorities affect our abilities to run certain programs. It can be quite a challenge to juggle bills, coordinate programs, and care for the building. And in the face of all of this, we keep going and growing because this team is also a family.

Staff and board getting creative during the annual retreat.

A total cliché but so very true here at Waterfall Arts. We surprise ourselves every time we open the doors to a new exhibition, workshop, artist talk, performance…WOW – we did it! And the best part, when we’re done with the to-do lists, the meetings, the calendar updates, the long nights painting walls and cleaning floors, writing grants and soliciting sponsorships, we get to start all over again to bring another amazing creative experience to our community.

The Waterfall family may not be united by genetics but we are related through our passions. We share a passion for the Arts, a passion to engage others in creative experiences, and a passion to make a difference in our community. And passion is what it takes to power a non-profit. To power any team to go beyond. It’s the gas in the engine.

I moved here about 5 years ago. Seeking out a community in the arts I found Waterfall Arts. I signed up to volunteer in the gallery and am still here, now President of the Board. Waterfall Arts is family to me. What we do is significant and makes a difference to the world around us and we enjoy being together doing it.

That is the perfect team.

Costumes happen more than once a year around here!

“How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ~Anne Frank

This post was written by Karin Otto, Waterfall Arts Board Chair and volunteer Coordinator of Programs.

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Who Are They? Waterfall Arts – Part 4

April 23, 2017

Facilities

This is the fourth of five blog posts in a series about Waterfall Arts, located in Belfast, and are posted April 20-24. Information is provided for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers to learn about community organizations and institutions that provide educational opportunities in the arts. You will learn that they are partnering with other organizations and schools to extend learning opportunities, not supplant.

Waterfall Arts (WA) was founded in 2000 on a rustic site in Montville by a group of local artists. Seventeen years later now located in a repurposed old schoolhouse in Belfast, WA is a vibrant midcoast arts hub with over 6000 visitors per year, still committed to its mission “to create community in harmony with nature through the transformative power of the arts.” WA offers resources to artists and arts enthusiasts of all ages, including classes, exhibitions, events, open media-specific studios (clay, print, and photography), free/sliding scale arts after-school programs for 4th-12th graders, public art projects, long-term studio space, and short-term rental facilities. As the co-founders and those involved are dedicated to an accessible, environmentally-sustainable center, they have embarked on a campaign to transform their old building into a model of creative energy efficiency and ADA-compliance.  Waterfall Arts is located at 265 High Street in Belfast. Website: http://waterfallarts.org, contact: info@waterfallarts.org or call 207.338.2222.

Waterfall Arts, Belfast

Five years ago when I joined the Waterfall arts crew as facilities manager I was pretty confident that I had landed a comfy position at a quiet little community art center. For the first couple of months that seemed to be the case. Set up some tables here, fold up some chairs there, maybe set up the projector and tape down the wires. Mow the lawn now and then. Make sure the trash was taken out and the floors were swept…

The building itself is a grand old elementary school covering over 16,000 sq. ft. with classrooms (complete with chalkboards and coat “cubbies”) converted into over a dozen private studios and offices. Several common areas include what was once the cafeteria (and the fallout shelter!), now a 1200 sq ft performance space. Many locals come to Waterfall for an event and end up going room to room, nostalgically pointing out where they had class when it was the Anderson School.

Although almost a hundred years old, the building seemed solid and steady, just needing a bit of paint here or there, maybe a call to the oil burner tech if the heat went out – easy! The best part was that I got to spend my work day in the company of fellow artists (which by the way is still the best part for sure). But my sleepy little gig ended abruptly on a Sunday morning in February when I got a call that a pipe had burst in the third floor ladies room sometime during the night and the basement was flooded; the ceiling in the 2nd floor ladies room collapsed. The water had been shut off but the damage was extensive. And so began a repair and renovation project that lasted over a year and required all the skills I had managed to acquire – including calling in outside help. Things are not always as they seem and this old elementary school is no exception! The pipe that burst appeared solid and in good order, the galvanized surface looked much as it did the day it was installed, but inside the cast iron pipe had rusted until it was paper thin and finally burst. And the building has many such pipes.

My second year here the heating system failed. In the middle of winter – again, old metal had failed. One minute you got heat the next minute you got a problem! We managed to make it until spring when we began the involved process of installing a pump system to heat and cool the building and to trash the existing oil fired steam heat system. The new system was not operational until late in December though, and we had to heat the entire building for several weeks using a flotilla of electric space heaters. Several extra-cold nights I slept on the couch in the basement to keep an eye on things. Now in our third season with the heat pump system, I can say it is a great improvement over the old system. AC in the heat of summer sure is sweet!

Soon we will begin a major renovation project to -among other things- super insulate the building, install new windows and a solar array on the roof – all with the goal of attaining net zero energy usage. This building has had quite a life cycle!

The last couple of years have provided me with plenty of opportunity to use a lifetime of construction skills, not only in dealing with crisis situations but also in the construction of new studio spaces including a fully equipped printmaking studio and a photo darkroom.

You could say my cozy little job at Waterfall Arts ended with the flood of 2012 – with the realization that this dear old building that provides this community with a home for the arts was a needy old building that required much attention… but in turn gives back so much. And yes, I still set up tables, fold up chairs…

This post was written by Mike Fletcher, Waterfall Arts Facilities Manager and the coordinator of the life drawing program. Mike is a 1991 graduate of Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts, and later went on to study at the Art Students League where he monitored for the Russian realist painter Leonid Gervits. An active member of the Mid-Coast Maine arts community for over two decades Mike has performed with the Belfast Maskers, exhibited with Art Fellows and taught at Waterfall Arts. Mike’s most recent solo exhibition was at Aaurhus gallery, in 2012.

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Who Are They? Waterfall Arts – Part 3

April 22, 2017

Making the Connections

This is the third of five blog posts in a series about Waterfall Arts, located in Belfast, and are posted April 20-24. Information is provided for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers to learn about community organizations and institutions that provide educational opportunities in the arts. You will learn that they are partnering with other organizations and schools to extend learning opportunities, not supplant.

Waterfall Arts (WA) was founded in 2000 on a rustic site in Montville by a group of local artists. Seventeen years later now located in a repurposed old schoolhouse in Belfast, WA is a vibrant midcoast arts hub with over 6000 visitors per year, still committed to its mission “to create community in harmony with nature through the transformative power of the arts.” WA offers resources to artists and arts enthusiasts of all ages, including classes, exhibitions, events, open media-specific studios (clay, print, and photography), free/sliding scale arts after-school programs for 4th-12th graders, public art projects, long-term studio space, and short-term rental facilities. As the co-founders and those involved are dedicated to an accessible, environmentally-sustainable center, they have embarked on a campaign to transform their old building into a model of creative energy efficiency and ADA-compliance.  Waterfall Arts is located at 265 High Street in Belfast. Website: http://waterfallarts.org, contact: info@waterfallarts.org or call 207.338.2222.

Waterfall Arts, Belfast

Hi, I’m Bridget Matros, Youth and Families Outreach Coordinator for Waterfall Arts. I help Waterfall share the power of art with people that might not naturally end up in the building, and I love it! When I first came to Belfast, this position didn’t exist. The “hundred-million dollar questions” I asked the first time I met Co-Director Martha Piscuskas were, “what does Waterfall do for local families? Do mostly wealthy people or professional artists come here?” I come from another small town where tourists enjoy what the local kids barely realize is there – so of course I was called to this disconnect, in what soon became my new hometown!

During my time at Boston Children’s Museum, my job was to engage urban families in artmaking. It sounds easy – it wasn’t! I think people in the arts forget how laden with psychological discomfort self-expression is for adults who were “scarred for life” during childhood. The arts also tend to be “bestowed” on communities by privileged people who speak a different language (sometimes literally!) and have a whole different set of values – so people can’t really make a connection in a real, deep way like they do with music from their home country, dancing in their living rooms, or a favorite photo. I developed many strategies for getting people comfortable with the arts on their terms – and one has been at the center of my approach here in Maine – fun! More specifically, free or cheap fun!

Kids learn through play, and it turns out adults do, too (especially with a running narration of the creative processes going on, and their practical applications)! By creating together, adults become advocates for the arts, and seek out more opportunities. We get the most newbies through our doors during “AAAH” events – All Ages Art Happenings. These are interactive community parties ranging from making a mini waterpark in the front yard to sitting down at a giant dinner table for a playdough pot luck.

Over 250 attendees at the fourth annual Glow Show

Our largest annual AAAH is The Glow Show – over 200 visitors enjoy a two-floor interactive installation of illuminated artwork, black light dancing, and glowing art activities. Fun that hinges on creativity is almost always cheap – Cardboard Boxes Are Really Fun involves collecting a couple hundred boxes from local businesses and donations of packing tape! Adults help kids erect an amazing castle-town and leave thinking about how easy it is to get creative at home. They also leave with a brochure of our classes, and some check out the gallery on their way out (a first for most, even with a town that has more art galleries than places to eat). Success! A “next step” might be for a dad to bring his son to one of our free Art Together Mornings, as a first ‘art class’ experience.

I think it’s critical that “outreach” be determined by the needs of the community, not the whims of an organization. For example, kindergarteners are “my people” –  but my first mission at Waterfall was to address the fact that in our school district, 6th graders don’t have art in school. I don’t know about you, but that would’ve done me in. So our first program was a free afterschool art club (“Bridge”) for 6th graders – the school bus delivers them to Waterfall for two hours every week. Some of these kids identify as artists on day one. Others, not so much. The goal is for kids to connect to themselves, each other, and the community. We do so through games, journaling, art projects, interviews, public art, gallery visits, and events.

A “Bridge kid” interviews local artist, Abbie Read.

The very first crew not only signed up for every session, but still come to Waterfall every week, three years later; the Teen Art Studio is a drop-in program mostly serving tweens and teens who need a creative outlet, free of assignments and judgement. What I love most about working with this age group is seeing the difference a creative safe-space can make for kids; hearing from teachers and parents things that never came across in Bridge: he’s introverted, she’s on the Autism Spectrum, he’s homeless, she’s learning-disabled, he’s failing his classes – as one student said, “everyone’s got different kinds of smarts. Art is good for finding what you can do and not worry about the rest – you just get to be awesome here!”

My second year with Waterfall, we were contacted by the local elementary school – art classes had been halved due to budgeting. I was able to visit the school with artmaking sessions, making some 200 new friends! We then started an afterschool art program for fourth and fifth graders, which is still going strong. We have a generous scholarship fund so we never have to turn anyone away for any of our fee-based programs.

The Art Tent acts as a starting point for families, at Fourth Friday Art Walks in Belfast.

During the summer, Bridge kids help to staff our “Art Tent” at community events and during the monthly Art Walk downtown. Next summer we’ll equip families with a map to family-friendly galleries along with our guide to looking at art with kids, informed by local gallery owners’ enthusiasm (and trepidations) regarding young visitors.

During a 2014  town hall-type survey of interests among mid-coast artists, teachers, gallerists, and organizations, “connecting to more people” was a unanimous priority – my position was fully funded later that year by the Quimby Foundation. Now a generous collective of sponsors and supporters keep my work going and allow us to assess and address the changing needs in Waldo County. We’re so grateful for the opportunity!

I hope that every reader will support our young creatives by “liking” and following our Facebook page, Bridge:Young Artists Connecting:

www.facebook.com/WATERFALLBRIDGE

This post was written by Bridget Matros, Waterfall Arts Youth and Family Outreach Coordinator and BRIDGE Instructor. Bridget has been an educator for fifteen years, teaching at every level and setting from preschool circle-time, computer labs for the elderly, and seminars for teachers. Her academic and experiential background includes a BA from Oberlin College in Sociology and Psychology, informing her development of successful programs for diverse crowds. She developed and grew the Art Studio exhibit and program at Boston Children’s Museum for ten years and deemed one of 21 “young leaders in arts education” by Harvard scholars, is a published advocate for quality creative development in early childhood education.  As an artist she transmits through a range of visual media as well as producing video, singing, and writing. www.bridgetmatros.com. Bridget can be reached at bridget@waterfallarts.org.

 

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