P.S. ARTS Spotlight: The LA Modernism Design Committee

Chelsea Martell, Events Coordinator

By Chelsea Martell, Events Coordinator

LA Modernism Opening Night, taking place on Friday, April 25th of this year, is an exciting event for our organization because it is an opportunity for our supporters to experience the innovation and creativity that art has to offer, all while raising money for our nationally recognized arts education programs.  Our Design Committee is an integral part of this annual fundraiser, as they serve as ambassadors for art and our compelling cause.  They are firm believers that every child should have the chance to experience art, regardless of circumstance.  P.S. ARTS is incredibly appreciative to have our Design Committee’s support in our mission to improve children’s lives through arts education.

As a thank you, we wanted to include a special feature about the designers who are a part of this year’s show, as well as share why arts education is so important to them.  We are grateful for their work and for being a part of LA Modernism Opening Night 2014!

Barondes MorrisElizabeth Barondes and Kelly Morris of Barondes Morris Design
The Barondes Morris Design team creates inviting interiors in a distinctive range of styles. Influenced by Elizabeth’s interest in contemporary architecture and Kelly’s passion for European antiquities, the firm’s unique approach fuses a variety of inspirations to achieve timeless, sophisticated spaces with unexpected twists.

“We feel exposure to the arts is a vital part of any well-rounded curriculum encouraging experimentation, imagination, and self-expression. It is an honor for us to support P.S. ARTS’ mission to improve the lives of children in underserved communities by providing arts education year after year.“

Stephen BlockStephen Block of Inner Gardens
Stephen Block, the owner of Inner Gardens, has been designing and furnishing beautiful residential gardens in Los Angeles and the western states for the last 20 years.  In addition to design, Inner Gardens offers one of the largest collections of vintage, modern, and antique garden planters, objects, and furnishings in the country, to both the trade and the public.

“I support arts education because humanity desperately needs the arts to help us maintain a civilized society.”

Lisa BowlesLisa Bowles of Roark modern
Roark modern is a luxury level showroom in the heart of Manhattan’s design district. On the sixth floor of a loft building near the East river, we have a mixture of 18th & 19th century antiques and mid-century modern furniture, collected mostly in Europe. Roark has maintained a strong presence on 1st dibs for the past 11 years.

“With a B.F.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University, the curriculum was far more demanding than I imagined as young woman planning a career in Interior Design.  My instructors inspired me to educate myself beyond the classroom and to continue my investigation of art and design throughout my life. This is, in my opinion, the most important quality of arts education.  P.S. ARTS is a leader in this field.”

Kristen BuckinghamKristen Buckingham of Kristen Buckingham LLC
Kristen Buckingham LLC brings a distinctly modern and fresh take to designing interiors, putting tasteful personality back into the home and imparting a more comfortable sense of scale to even the largest of spaces.  Often looking to the past for inspiration, Kristen’s artisan approach to interior design is apparent in every project.  While each space looks effortlessly chic, each room has been carefully composed, fusing modern and traditional elements – creating a timeless and harmonious balance.

“Art education is not a luxury, it is a right.  The ability to express oneself creatively is essential and informs us of who we are.”

Martyn Lawrence BullardMartyn Lawrence Bullard of Martyn Lawrence Bullard Design
Martyn Lawrence Bullard is a multi-award-winning Los Angeles-based interior designer and is renowned for his broad range of styles and eclectic, yet sophisticated and always inviting, interiors.  Martyn’s extraordinary attention to detail and commitment to quality have won him international acclaim. His work has appeared in over 4000 publications worldwide including Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, House & Garden, Interior Design, W, Vogue, House Beautiful, both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, and many more.  His projects are currently featured in 10 coffee table books.  Martyn’s first book exclusively covering his work was released by Rizzoli last year.  Live, Love, & Decorate gives us a window into the glamorous world of Martyn Lawrence Bullard Design, featuring his dramatic spaces and exquisite eye for detail.

“Art classes of all shapes and form are extremely important to helping create kids’ futures, expand their minds, open up the possibilities of the world, and allow a creative outlet that is our right as humans to exploit, expand, and nurture.  Without arts education, America and the world will suffer, and our future generations will lose an understanding and practice that for centuries has been taken for granted.  We must support the arts and especially the education process for our children.  It is not an option, it is a must!  Art not only feeds the imagination – it also feeds the soul.”

Betsy BurnhamBetsy Burnham of Burnham Design
Bringing a traditional east coast pedigree, a savvy eye for color, and an adventurous sense of style, Betsy Burnham curates interiors that are sophisticated, livable, timeless, and always personalized to her clients and their lives.  From their Los Angeles studio, the team at Burnham Design continues to create world-class spaces for clients that appreciate a style that is a little bit country club and a little bit rock-and-roll.

“I truly believe that art is an essential part of a well-rounded education.  When you engage kids creatively, you spark new ways for them to look at the world around them.  Art not only enriches their lives but also encourages freedom of expression and individuality.  P.S.  ARTS brings art to kids who would not have had this opportunity.  Bravo!”

Jamie BushJamie Bush of Jamie Bush & Co.
Widely admired for his relevant and keen understanding of architecture and design, Jamie approaches each new commission with a discerning and insightful point of view. Growing up in a family of renowned designers, photographers, and artists in New York propelled him to study architecture and design in New Orleans and in Italy.  After receiving his Masters in Architecture from Tulane University, Jamie headed west to practice architecture in Los Angeles and founded his own interior design firm in 2002.

He is recognized for his ability to mix period and contemporary furnishings with a fresh and discriminating eye.  Layering rich colors and textures with exotic and organic elements transforms each of his spaces into an inviting, modern, and unexpected environment.  Jamie’s highly regarded designs have been featured in over 40 publications world wide including Architectural Digest, Interior Design, Casa Vogue, Dwell, Los Angeles Times, as well as several coffee table books.

“The arts in early education is VITALLY important, more now than ever.  I can’t imagine going to school today without the opportunity to get lost and ‘make things’ in art class. Young artistic minds require a nurturing, creative outlet; we have to support P.S. ARTS for making arts education their number one priority in Los Angeles.”

Melanie CharltonMelanie Charlton of Clos-ette
President and Creative Director Melanie Charlton is considered the founding mother of high-end custom closets.  Since launching Clos-ette ten years ago, she has worked with over 5,000 clients worldwide to design, build, and organize the most beautiful bespoke closets around.  To her, closets and their accessories aren’t just a place to park your wardrobe.  They’re her life’s work.

“The simplest answer for me is: Art is good for you.  It is good for transforming individuals, communities, and economies.  Every person we encounter, every day, whether family or stranger, has a story worth sharing.  And those expressions in paint or words or music are our legacy. I support P.S. ARTS because their organization helps ensure our heritage is rich in voice.”

Patrick DragonettePatrick Dragonette of Dragonette Ltd
Patrick Dragonette established his eponymous showroom in Los Angeles in 1997.  Dragonette Ltd has become one of the country’s top resources for high-end mid 20th century design, and has made a name for itself as a go-to source for designers across the country.

“Having grown up at a time when arts programs were never in question, I can’t imagine an education that excludes something that was so vital to my experience.”

Peter DunhamPeter Dunham of Hollywood at Home and Peter Dunham Textiles
“[Arts education is meaningful to me because] art is at the root of so much creation and innovation.  For that alone it is truly vital to nurture and support the development of artists and artistic exploration.  [I support P.S. ARTS because] for us to thrive and evolve as a society we need to study both the humanities as well the sciences.  Our public institutions have cut back almost all the funding for arts education.  It’s only through the extraordinary efforts of organizations like P.S. ARTS that a generation of children have been exposed to a whole universe outside the barebones school curricula.”

Oliver M. FurthOliver M. Furth
Native Los Angelino and fourth generation Californian, Interior Designer Oliver M. Furth is a fixture in his city’s design and cultural communities.  In addition to his design practice, Furth consults for The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and is the Chair of their Decorative Arts and Design Council.  Furth’s design projects and philanthropic work for the design community have received accolades from across his field, including in The Wall Street Journal, Elle Décor, House & Garden, House Beautiful, Traditional Home, The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, and C Magazine.

“Art is what pushes society forward.  What better place to start pushing than with the youth in our community?”

Trip HaenischTrip Haenisch of Trip Haenisch & Associates
Possessing an extraordinary eye for detail and unwavering commitment to style, Trip Haenisch is an award-winning interior designer.  Renowned for combining refined creativity with the unexpected, Trip’s signature design aesthetic consists of sophisticated, collected spaces with a laid-back twist that embodies quintessential California living.

“I believe everything begins with education.  Arts education is especially important because it gives people an outlet for creativity, self-expression, and communication.  The arts have become greatly undervalued in recent years, so it’s really important that we support this area of study.”

Thomas LavinThomas Lavin
Thomas Lavin is a leader in bringing an international range of exclusive high-end home furnishings, fabrics, lighting, and accessories to Los Angeles.

Lavin’s interest in design was piqued at a young age, when he would visit the Pacific Palisades home of his grandfather, Richard Irvine, Chief Operating Officer of the Walt Disney Company.  Irvine’s creative interests extended to his house, where, among other things, he covered an entire room in silver tea paper and brought over an artist from Japan to paint orientalist scenes on the walls.  Forever fascinated by his grandfather’s magical abode, Lavin graduated from UCLA with a degree in art history.

In 1995, he launched a career in showroom sales at the Pacific Design Center. Recognizing that there were many manufacturers of fine residential furnishings that had no showroom representation, Lavin decided that a boutique showplace representing little-known design talents would be favorably received in Los Angeles and he opened his eponymous showroom in 2000 on Beverly Boulevard, at the crossroads of the Avenues of Art & Design.  Moving to an 11,000-square-foot showroom in the Pacific Design Center five years later, he now represents a finely edited assortment of furniture, lighting, textiles, and accessories from 60 manufacturers.

Lavin serves on the board of Outfest and supports design community events such as the LA Antiques Show and DIFFA’s Dining by Design.

Regarded by the press as a style maker, he is an avid traveler, reader, and connoisseur of art and fashion.

“Art is to children as breathing is to us all.  I believe that children need to exercise their creativity in the arts in order to experience themselves in a profound way; it allows them to express their lives in a way that is not possible otherwise.  In a time when society does not support art, it is incumbent upon those of us who can support it to do so.  A society without art cannot be fully realized.”

Donna LivingstonDonna Livingston of Donna Livingston Design
Donna Livingston has paved the way in the Interior Design field for over 30 years with Donna Livingston Design.  With timeless, sophisticated taste, Donna’s design style is classy, inviting, and also incredibly detail-oriented. Her ability to transform both residential homes and commercial projects by layering rich textures, colors, and fabrics has placed her on Architectural Digest’s Top 100 Designer List four times.

“Art Is an alternative way to express imagination, creativity, and emotions.  Especially when children are young, their language is limited to their artistic abilities as a form of expression.  Imagination brings joy to our hearts both young and old.”

Jeffrey Alan MarksJeffrey Alan Marks of JAM Inc.
Jeffrey Alan Marks is a California-based interior designer and furniture designer who is best known for starring on Bravo TV’s hit show Million Dollar Decorators and for his newly published book, The Meaning of Home.  Named one of “the town’s most-wanted decorators” by The Hollywood Reporter, Marks believes in fun and creativity, influences of which can be found in both his work and his own personal style.  Marks originally started his career while studying design at the Inchbald School of Design in England.  He later lived in Milan and Paris, where he still draws inspiration today.  Marks started his own firm, JAM Inc., based in Santa Monica, focusing on both luxury homes and commercial projects. Marks is celebrated internationally by his devoted clientele.

“My parents both worked in public education.  From a very early age I was surrounded by the arts, and was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in fine art, photography, and interior design in school, as well as track, soccer, and swimming.  All of these things were equally important to me, and helped form me into the designer I am today.”

Alex Mason headshotAlex Mason of Ferrick Mason

Alex K. Mason and Brian Ferrick established the Los Angeles-based home interior textile collection Ferrick Mason in 2008.  Ferrick Mason is based on the original artwork of Alex K. Mason, whose paintings have been placed in hotels from the Four Seasons in Mexico City to the Atlantis in Dubai. Ferrick Mason is sold throughout the United States and in London, Singapore, Germany, and New Zealand.  Ferrick Mason designs appear in House Beautiful, Town & Country, World of Interiors, Luxe Magazine, and many other magazines.

“Visual and performing arts should be an integral part of every child’s education.  I fell in love with art in elementary school, and it is the one subject that kept me truly engaged.  I can’t imagine my educational experience without the arts.  P.S. ARTS means that no matter what your social economic background is, you have a chance to express yourself, explore the arts, and maybe even become an artist!”

Mary McDonaldMary McDonald of Mary McDonald Inc.
A celebrated interior designer and one of the stars of Bravo TV’s Million Dollar Decorators and Property Envy.  Mary McDonald’s iconic style combines old-world elegance with a bold, modern sensibility. Projects range from the refurbishing of Buster Keaton’s legendary villa to the redesign of Bel Air’s Luxe Hotel to the bold overhaul of the Monika Chiang boutique in Soho.  Her first book, Mary McDonald: Interiors: The Allure of Style (2010, Rizzoli), is in its fifth printing with a follow-up due in 2015.  Her licensed products range from fabric with F.Schumacher & Co. to furniture with Chaddock Home, lighting with Robert Abbey, and rugs with Patterson Flynn.

“The people of P.S. ARTS are true freedom fighters.  They fight to open the door to artistic expression in places that have had it slammed shut. Their work results in better people, better communities, and a better world.”

Lindsay PenningtonLindsay Pennington
Lindsay Pennington, a Los Angeles-based decorator, was born and raised in the South.  She moved to California nearly a decade ago, where she began cultivating her particular brand of classically designed and comfortable spaces.  A former corporate lawyer, Lindsay provides her clients the highest levels of attention to detail and professionalism.  Her creative blend of colors, textures, finishes, and details attract a clientele ranging from Los Angeles to New York City.

“Arts education is critical for young minds to build confidence in their ability to express a unique point of view.  Being comfortable with openly sharing artistic and creative perspective is necessary for success in so many fields, from architecture, fashion, and interior design to technology, filmmaking, and entrepreneurial business.  More importantly, arts education sets the foundation for children to manifest their individuality anywhere and everywhere.  I’m proud to support P.S. ARTS in its important mission to provide all children with access to high-quality arts instruction.”

WindsorSmithLadderWindsor Smith
Windsor Smith is an internationally celebrated, Los Angeles-based interior designer known for her innovative approach and bold vision.  Windsor’s signature layering style – bringing together the classic with the unexpected – is reflective of her unconventional approach to life and design.

“I am such a strong supporter of P.S. ARTS’ mission.  There is nothing more important than creating opportunities to channel the dreams, curiosities, and aspirations of children into art and creativity.  They are things that have played such an important role in my own life and particularly in my work.  This is especially true for children who may not otherwise have the opportunity and resources to become involved in the arts.

Jonathan Winslow DesignJonathan Winslow of Jonathan Winslow Design
Jonathan Winslow Design is an established national residential interior design firm with completed projects across Greater Los Angeles, New York, and Texas.

“’I made that!’ Children exposed to arts education helps promote personal creativity and the confidence of accomplishment.  This is then carried throughout their life.”

If you’d like to purchase tickets to LA Modernism Opening Night on April 25th, please click here.

P.S. ARTS Students Are Rich In Creativity

 Dr. Kristen Paglia, Executive Director of Education & Programs

By Dr. Kristen Paglia, Executive Director of Education & Programs

I believe that creativity will be the currency of the 21st century. – Dr. Gerald Gordon, CEO Fairfax County Economic Development Authority

Creativity is widely regarded as one of the most important traits for “21st Century success.” Frankly, I can’t think of a time in history when creativity was not important for success (if not survival), but the trait has gained new appreciation from business and education leaders in the age of technology and globalization.  According to a 2010 IBM survey of more than 1,500 Chief Executive Officers from 60 countries, CEOs “believe that – more than rigor, management discipline, integrity, or even vision – successfully navigating an increasing complex world will require creativity.”  The creative industries account for one in ten jobs in California, and contributed $155 billion (8%) to the Gross State Product (see the 2013 OTIS Report on the Creative Economy).  With student success in school, work, and life at the core of P.S. ARTS’ mission, ensuring that our arts education programs foster creativity in the 15,000 children we serve is paramount.

Through the generosity of the Herb Alpert Foundation, the W. M. Keck Foundation, and Roll Global LLC, P.S. ARTS launched a 2-year longitudinal study in 2011 with the Centers for Research on Creativity to measure participants’ creative development.  Using the Next Generation Creativity Survey (NGCS) to measure “key aspects of individual creative thinking, behavior, and motivation in the arts, sciences, and social problem-solving,”[1] 300 4th grade students in 16 classrooms were assessed pre and post-participation in 33-week P.S. ARTS residencies in which they received 11-week rotations of music, theater, and visual arts instruction unified by an overarching theme – The Tree of Life:  Roots and Branches. These students will be followed at least through 5th grade to support a longitudinal perspective on their creative growth while participating in the P.S. ARTS program.  “Creativity,” as measured by the Next Generation Creativity Survey protocol, refers to a commonly accepted definition of creativity as the production of ideas, designs, or products that are new or novel, and also valuable.  The NGSC uses traditional scales of originality, flexible thinking, and problem solving, as well as developmental scales in self-efficacy beliefs, empathy, and collaboration skills.

Findings after the first year indicate that P.S. ARTS students demonstrate significant gains in creative thinking skills, surpassing their peers with less arts education.  Moreover, principal investigators Dr. James Catterall and Kim Zanti found that P.S. ARTS students exhibited gains in an array of skills associated with creativity and college and career success, such as confidence in their ability to generate new and valuable idea, and openness to collaborative problem-solving.

P.S. ARTS programs measurably help prepare students for school and career success in the 21st Century by supporting their creative development.

As noted in the full report submitted by the Centers for Research on Creativity, “These are impressive results for creative growth.  The sizes of the gains in the three clusters are large in general comparison to results in other programs in our pilot study.”

Participation in P.S. ARTS is associated with gains in students’ ability to…

Generate original ideas.

Solve problems creatively.

Collaborate with others.

Consider others’ feelings and ideas.

Produce ideas, designs, and products that are novel and valuable.

These findings on students’ ability to come up with great ideas and cooperate with one another to solve creative problems are some of the most significant in terms of preparing them for college and career success.  As the researchers point out, “When we consider the results… First is an effect on fluency with ideas – the ability to come up with new ideas that have value. Second is the ability to work with others – valuing the ideas of others and willingness to give up one’s own ideas to move a group process ahead.  If this was all we could say about the effects of P.S. ARTS residencies, we would be saying a lot.”

[1] Catterall, J., & Runco, M. (2012). Next Generation Creativity Survey:  Measuring Creative Thinking and Motivation in the Arts, Sciences, and Social Problem Solving. Topanga:  Centers for Research on Creativity with support from the Walt Disney Company.

Join Us For LA Modernism Opening Night!

Chelsea Martell, Events Coordinator

By Chelsea Martell, Events Coordinator

Our team at P.S. ARTS is excited and grateful to be the beneficiary of the LA Modernism Opening Night Party on Friday, April 25th 2014!  This event is one of our three signature fundraisers held every year, and the funds we raise through ticket sales, sponsorships, and advertisements in the show’s Exhibition Catalog directly support our robust arts education programs throughout Southern and Central California.  With great art, music, food, drinks, and even live magic, the Opening Night Party will be a night to remember – all for a great cause!

We are pleased to announce that this year, the LA Modernism Show has a new home at 3Labs in Culver City.  3Labs is a brand new and completely renovated former umbrella factory in the trendy Hayden Tract Arts District – a now incredibly contemporary state-of-the-art event space that is sure to be the perfect setting for our Opening Night Party.


The new 3Labs event space in Culver City.

Our organization is thankful to be a part of this event because it gives the community an opportunity to contribute to the important work of P.S. ARTS that inspires children to become the future artists, musicians, designers, and creative thinkers of tomorrow.  Who knows?  Maybe the children we teach today will be the incredible artists featured at the Modernism Shows of tomorrow.  We are proud to provide children in our community a comprehensive and just education through the arts, and we are thrilled the Modernism Show is an opportunity to showcase the beauty, innovation, and creativity that only art can provide.

LA Modernism Opening Night plays host to our unique city’s most prominent artists, designers, architects, and other influential professionals from the creative community.  This chic event kicks off a weekend-long exhibition that will feature over 40 exhibitors of modern art (namely 20th century furniture, decorative, and fine arts) from across the United States and Europe.

The Opening Night Party will be catered by a dear friend of the organization, Michele Gan of Serves You Right! Catering, as well as the famous Sprinkles Cupcakes!  We are thrilled to include these local culinary favorites in this special evening.

The first hour of the party will be a special VIP Collectors’ Preview for guests who want an exclusive first look at the exhibitors’ galleries.  The Collectors’ Preview will take place from 6–7PM; the Cocktail Party is from 7pm–10pm.  Tickets to the Cocktail Party and Collectors’ Preview can be purchased here.  Please keep in mind, tickets to the Collectors’ Preview include admission to the Cocktail Party that immediately follows.

We’re very thankful to our Presenting Sponsor, Jaguar Land Rover, as well as Event Chairs Jeffrey Alan Marks and Lisa Bowles from ROARK modern for supporting P.S. ARTS and arts education.   We would also like to thank our gracious hosts, event committee, and design committees for all your hard work planning this event.

Modernism 2014 E-vite 2.0

Purchase tickets to LA Modernism Opening Night.

Information on the LA Modernism Exhibition Show, produced by Dolphin Promotions.

Press from LA Modernism Opening Night 2013.

Pictures from LA Modernism Opening Night Party 2013.

We look forward to seeing you on Friday, April 25th at 3Labs to celebrate art and raise money for our nationally recognized arts education programs!


Stephanie Kistner, Senior Education & Programs Associate

By Stephanie Kistner, Senior Education & Programs Associate

I love a good TED Talk.

Educational, inspiring, and sometimes controversial, TED Talks challenge the status quo, advocate for new ways of thinking, and emphasize innovation.

Because of their accessibility and easily digestible 18-minute segments, TED Talks offer an easy-to-fit-into-your-schedule way of consuming and sharing information.  Their success, in part, according to TED Curator Chris Anderson, is because TED Talks are “long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention.”

As The TED2014 Conference came to a close in Vancouver last week, I began reflecting on the first TED Talk I came across in 2006, Sir Ken Robinson’s discussion about our education system and the lack of creativity that exists in schools today.  While the ideas he presents aren’t so new anymore, the change he seeks to inspire is still evolving.

TED Talks boast an impressive collection of videos about arts and education from a diverse list of contributors. Some of my all-time favorite arts and education TED Talks include:

  • Mae Jemison, an astronaut, doctor, art collector, and dancer gives a compelling argument about why the arts and science should be taught together, and how doing so would create the bold thinkers we need.  Jemison puts it concisely: “Science provides an understanding of a universal experience. Arts provide a universal understanding of a personal experience.”

  • Jose Antonio Abreu, founder of El Sistema, a youth orchestra system that has transformed thousands of children’s lives in Venezuela, delivers a powerful TED Talk about the El Sistema music revolution.

    • Another TED Talk favorite is led by John Maeda, President of the Rhode Island School of Design.  In this talk, he muses about math, art, design, and technology and how they can all coexist and work together to inform creative leaders.

Trending on Twitter last week was a comment made by one of the speakers at the TED Conference in Vancouver, Bran Ferren, technologist, artist, architectural designer, vehicle designer, engineer, lighting and sound designer, visual effects artist, scientist, lecturer, photographer, entrepreneur, and inventor (yes, he’s all of those things, and I’m quite inspired by this impressive list):

 “Visionaries not only believe that the impossible can be done, but that it must be done #TED2014.”

Here’s to inspiring more visionaries, creating change, and making the world a better place, one arts education at a time.

Why Should We Encourage Technology Integration In Our Arts Curriculum?

Amy Knutson, Education & Programs Assistant

By Amy Knutson, Education & Programs Assistant

At P.S. ARTS, we place a great emphasis on technology in the classroom.  iPads in particular are a great tool for education, especially for the arts, because they introduce students to technology and digital media while retaining the hands-on appeal of both visual and performing arts.  Fortunately, with a very generous grant from The Ahmanson Foundation, we were able to purchase a classroom set of iPads, which are available to all of our Teaching Artists, and an interactive whiteboard for one of our classrooms. To encourage our Teaching Artists to integrate technology into the classroom, we are concurrently providing them with technology training to ensure they have the necessary tools to fully utilize the apps, websites, and gadgets available to them.

What does technology integration in a classroom look like?  At P.S. ARTS, it depends on the discipline and the specific project our Teaching Artists are working on with their students.  At Grand View Boulevard Elementary School, where we launched the arts inclusion program last year, Visual Arts Teaching Artist Tamie Smith uses iPads as a way to encourage students to research and collaborate on projects.  When I stopped by her room last week to say hello, students were researching Australian animals for a project on Aboriginal Dreamtime.

Using technology integration to create visual art.Tamie told me the iPads have been invaluable in her classes, not only for the practical benefits, but because it allows the students to have more freedom in their choices and spend more time being thoughtful about their artistic process.  For example, in Tamie’s Aboriginal Dream unit, students were able to research different animals, watch videos of them, and learn more about the Aboriginal culture by using the smartboard and iPads in her class.  Printing pictures can be costly, so it is incredibly efficient and useful.  Our organization has also explored using technology in our theater classes and last year we hosted an after-school residency at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy – Harvard where middle schools students wrote, acted in, and directed stop-animation videos that are incredible. You can watch a couple of them below.

CNCA Harvard Stop Animation Projects 2013: Video Game Malfunction from P.S. ARTS on Vimeo.

CNCA Harvard Stop Animation Projects 2013: Amber The Cheater from P.S. ARTS on Vimeo.

So why are we so focused on integrating technology with our classes?

  • Students, even elementary school students, are bombarded with digital media through cartoons, films, game, and television.  We want to teach them at an early age how to combine technology and aesthetic judgment.
  • When using technologies like iPads, students of all abilities can freely experiment without using up materials, explore works of art through museum websites, and build both technical skills and confidence.
  • Technology fosters curiosity and innovation; by having an iPad in hand or a smart board in the classroom, students have vast amounts of information at their disposal.  Instead of waiting for the solution or a suggestion from the teacher, they are encouraged to discover the answers themselves.
  • P.S. ARTS loves technology integration because it levels the playing field for students.  Our Teaching Artists work with students of all abilities, so their projects and lessons must be accessible for all types of learners.  In this case, technology allows the students who may not have the motor capability to grasp a paintbrush, dip it in paint, and move it across a canvas still be able to participate in art making by moving their finger across an iPad screen to have the same effect.   We’re big advocates of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and technology is a natural fit for this, providing all learning types with access to information and the opportunity to engage in critical thinking skills through visual, auditory, and collaborative means.

One of our partner schools, Baldwin Hills Elementary, recently received iPads from LAUSD as part of their pilot iPad program.  The teachers in this school are as thrilled as the students to have integrated technology at their disposal.  Ms. Porter-Morris of Baldwin Hills says in the article, ‘A lot of [our students] don’t actually have technology at home, so it’s going to open up a whole new world for them… We’re excited to offer iPads as part of our program to allow access to students who may not have the opportunity to use technology every day like some of their peers.”

By integrating technology into weekly art class (whether it’s dance, music, theater, or visual art), we hope our students are inspired to explore their dreams and expand their universe (which, coincidentally, is our classroom theme for the year!).  Once again, a huge thank you to The Ahmanson Foundation for providing our students with access to these innovative tools; we are proud to offer the children we serve a comprehensive and dynamic arts education.

International Women’s Day and Arts Education

Jennifer Leitch, Development Officer

By Jennifer Leitch, Development Officer

While many women around the world face violence and inequality on a daily basis, significant strides have been made in the U.S. since the rise of the feminism and civil rights activism in the 1960s: in 1963, the first federal law prohibiting discrimination based on gender was passed; in 1974, the first shelter for battered women seeking respite from violence was opened; the first female, Sandra Day O’Connor, was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1981; and in the early 1990s, the Family and Medical Leave act, requiring employers to provide job-protected leave for reasons including pregnancy and adoption, and the Violence Against Women Act, providing federal funding to investigate and prosecute violent crimes against women, were signed into law. With these laws and shifting attitudes towards civil rights, women today have more choices when it comes to their personal wellbeing and economic security.

In honor of these achievements and the women who contributed to this progress, March 8 has been declared International Women’s Day. For over 100 years, this global day of recognition has celebrated women and their accomplishments, and in some countries, International Women’s Day is now an official holiday (these countries include Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia[1]). While it’s not (yet) a national holiday in the U.S., we would like to salute the women who have made significant contributions to the fields of arts and education, and who continue to be an inspiration for many of us:

  • In the late 19th century, Maria Montessori developed a philosophy of education based on independence and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical, and social development; the Montessori method is still widely used in both public and private schools today. Montessori was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize six times.
  • Louise Blanchard Bethune was the first woman to become a full member of the American Institute of Architects (1890).
  • Linda Nochlin, whose seminal 1971 essay “Why Have There Been No Great Female Artists?” challenged existing social structures and the normative behavior expectations they impose.
  • Aretha Franklin, who has won 18 Grammy Awards and sold over 75 million records worldwide, was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1987).
  • Jenny Holzer, who was the first woman to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale (1990).
  • Halle Berry, the first black female to win an Oscar for Best Leading Actress (2002).
  • Marin Aslop was appointed the 12th music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestral in 2006 – she was the first woman to hold this position with a major American orchestra.
  • Maya Lin, who as an undergraduate student, won a competition to design the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, beating more than 1,000 other submission; she was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2009.
Mairn Alsop

Mairn Alsop leading the Baltimore Symphony Orchestral.

Jenny Holzer's work at the Venice Biennale.

Jenny Holzer’s work at the Venice Biennale.

The Vietnam Veterans' Memorial, created by Maya Lin.

The Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, created by Maya Lin.

We would also like to recognize two women who have made significant contributions to P.S. ARTS’ success – Co-Executive Directors Kristen Paglia and Amy Shapiro. Kristi, who has a background in special education and cognitive psychology, guides the vision for P.S. ARTS programs.  Through her advocacy efforts with the California Department of Education’s Blueprint for Creative Schools and the President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities Arts Turnaround initiative, she has helped highlight the important role the arts play in education.  Her work has been crucial to defining our values as an organization and resulted in the elevation of our program quality.  Amy, who also has a background in special education as well as a degree in nonprofit administration, provides outstanding leadership at P.S. ARTS, enabling the organization to meet programming and financial goals, and ensuring the organization operates with exemplar conscientiousness toward its mission and community. Together, Kristi and Amy have shaped P.S. ARTS into a thriving nonprofit organization, contributed to the robustness of the field, and helped improve the quality of life for thousands of children.

Amy Shapiro, Executive Director of Advancement & Operations, and Kristen Paglia, Executive Director of Education & Programs: our fearless leaders!

Amy Shapiro, Executive Director of Advancement & Operations, and Kristen Paglia, Executive Director of Education & Programs: our fearless leaders!

To all the women today who are paving the way for future generations, we celebrate you!  Happy international Women’s Day!

Celebrate IWD through art! check out some of to go projects based on the work of female artists:

Printmaking with Elizabeth Catlett Mora
Printmaking with Paula Cox