Every summer, P.S. ARTS Teaching Artists and staff brainstorm a new theme for the upcoming school year which is used as a guide for classroom curriculum and activities. The 2021-22 school year’s theme is Weaving the Threads, Reconnecting Our Stories. Sound familiar? That’s because this theme is a spinoff of last year’s theme (Weaving the Threads, Connecting Our Stories) to bring previously discussed concepts back into the forefront as students and teachers reconnect in schools and classrooms.
Although the titles are similar, this year’s theme presents a whole new slate of amazing artists to study. Each artist represents a different discipline that we teach at P.S. ARTS. Highlighting an array of disciplines and backgrounds, these Anchorworks, as we call them, stand as guiding artworks for lessons in dance, music, theater, and visual arts classes. With a focus on reconnection in 2021-2022, we look ahead to in-person classes and explore the ways in which P.S. ARTS programs can facilitate students’ learning and wellbeing as school communities come back together. After a year of distance learning and physical disconnect, we are excited to reconnect through creativity, learning, self-expression, and storytelling! P.S. ARTS faculty and staff are excited to announce the following artists and their Anchorworks for this year:
Full Still Hungry by CONTRA TIEMPO
CONTRA-TIEMPO Activist Dance Theater is a Los Angeles-based dance theater company dedicated to building community and creating dances that move audiences to stand against injustice. It exemplifies artists weaving together stories to connect people and spark collective action. For more than 16 years, the CONTRA-TIEMPO Activist Dance Theater has developed a “physical vocabulary” that combines Salsa, Afro-Cuban, Hip-Hop, and contemporary dance with theater, text, and original music. The dance Full Still Hungry work is built around themes related to feeding the body and soul, family and community connection, honoring cultural traditions, and food justice. The web – or woven threads – include the stories and lived experiences of CONTRA-TIEMPO company members around food, family, dependence and interdependence, and other forms of sustenance.
“Full Still Hungry – GET A TASTE” Excerpt of performance by CONTRA-TIEMPO, Vimeo, CONTRA-TIEMPO, 2012, https://vimeo.com/34415334.
Missing You by The Linda Lindas
The Linda Lindas – Mila (10), Eloise (13), Lucia (14), and Bela (16) – are a half-Asian, half-Latinx punk rock band from Los Angeles. They began playing their instruments with little musical experience in January of 2018, and by that summer they were an official garage punk band writing and performing original songs. Veteran musicians credit their popularity to their honest lyrics, raw emotion, and passionate performances that represent the voices of young people living through a global pandemic and social upheaval. “Missing You” was written by Eloise Wong during the COVID-19 pandemic when she, like many across the world, was homebound due to social distancing measures. She laments about trying to connect with friends through the internet and, finding it lacking, dwells on all the things she misses about pre-pandemic life. The wistful lyrics juxtaposed with Eloise’s singing in the assertive, clipped and angry style that defines punk conveys the underlying emotions that the children of the pandemic share: anger, longing, sadness, and hope.
“Missing You” Performance by The Linda Lindas, YouTube, 17 Dec. 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a59Ur7DsovQ.
The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman (for grades 3-8) and Stone Soup by Jon J. Muth (for grades K-2)
Amanda Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, as well as an award-winning writer and cum laude graduate of Harvard University. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Amanda Gorman began writing at a young age while she attended the New Roads School founded by P.S. ARTS founder, Dr. Paul Cummins. She began writing “The Hill We Climb” in response to the violent attack on the United States Capitol on January 6th, 2021, during which a mob of armed rioters attempted to disrupt the democratic confirmation of Joe Biden to the Office of President, and she went on to read the finished poem at President Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021 as a call for collective healing and resilience.
Jon J. Muth is a comic book artist and children’s book illustrator most known for his beloved Zen series. His mother was an art teacher and she took him to museums all over the U.S. and he went on to have his first one-man exhibit of paintings and drawings when he was just eighteen. Muth studied stone sculpture in Japan, and has received critical acclaim and numerous awards for his work. Although the original tale of Stone Soup has roots in Europe, Muth’s retelling sets the story in China, using Buddhist story traditions. Three Ch’an (Zen) monks named Hok, Lok, and Siew, based on characters prominent in Chinese folklore, come upon a village where people are weary, suspicious, and unhappy, and work only for themselves. To help the villagers find happiness, the monks decide to show them how to make stone soup. By the end of the story, the villagers have come together in a feast, celebrating their community, and the things that make us all truly rich.
“American poet Amanda Gorman reads a poem during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.” ASSOCIATED PRESS https://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-scoops/amanda-gorman-super-bowl-performance-1234717273/.
“Stone Soup by Jon J. Muth” Performed by Amy Parcels, YouTube, 9 July 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4BrVafRKXI.
Untitled, Broken Pots Series by El Anatsui
El Anatsui is a Ghanaian sculptor, member of the Ewe Nation, and son of a master kente cloth weaver. He is a professor of sculpture at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, and is among the foremost contemporary artists in the world often using discarded materials in his work, including broken pottery, bottle caps, and kitchen appliances. He often refers to the role of visual symbols and language in his art, noting his first experience with art was through drawing letters on a chalkboard. As a college student, Anatsui researched traditional Ghanaian art, such as the graphic symbols in adinkra cloth.
His sculptures are not about shaping mass, as an artist would with clay, but the process of organizing disjointed fragments into interrelated lines, shapes, and patterns. This organized fragmentation style is a hallmark of Anatsui’s work and the major theme of his 1977-1981 Broken Pots series. The Broken Pots series marks Anatsui’s early experiments with using many parts to create a whole with the intention of providing new context or meaning to the broken pieces.
Images sourced from El Anatsui’s website https://elanatsui.art/.
Read more about our themes from previous years:
2020-21: Weaving the Thread, Connecting Our Stories
2019-20: Windows and Mirrors
2018-19: The Light of Discovery
2015-16: All the Colors I Am Inside!
2014-15: Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers
2013-14: Exploring Our Dreams, Expanding Our Universe