Every year, P.S. ARTS teaching artists and staff gather together to create a unifying theme that guides their curriculum throughout the course of the following school year. This year, we are very excited to announce that the theme for the 2019-20 school year will be Windows and Mirrors.
“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror.”
-Rudine Sims Bishop
Inspired by conversations around equity and community, this year’s theme focuses on finding a reflection of yourself within an art piece, a mirror, as well as looking into or experiencing someone else’s perspective, a window or sliding glass door. We want students to ask themselves what they see when they look in the mirror. What windows can we provide our students to look into? Can we create sliding glass doors together and become part of a unified narrative? By understanding, respecting, and celebrating the identities of someone else along with our own identity, we can create enriched and diverse communities. Communities who have felt undervalued or unseen are also given a chance to share their own experiences, stories, and artwork. With this in mind, the faculty and staff here at P.S. ARTS are excited to announce the following artists and their masterworks for this year:
Windows and Mirrors
The Narrowing by AXIS Dance Company, Choreography: Sebastian Grubb in collaboration with Rodney Bell
Sebastian Grubb, the choreographer of The Narrowing, elaborates on observation as one of the main themes in this piece. When we view dancers, and sometimes people, we have a list of qualities that they can have or should have. “You created the window with which you are then choosing to see that person, and that frames your observation.” This can potentially reduce others to whatever is most obvious about them, such as their disabilities. “In making the work, I wanted to focus on how we create these frames for each other…and then how do we break those apart through the dancing itself.” The dance then starts to shatter some of the assumptions or expectations that you’d make of someone who has a visible disability, a dancer, or an audience member.
“In making the work, I wanted to focus on how we create these frames for each other…and then how do we break those apart through the dancing itself.”
“The Narrowing – AXIS Dance Company (2011).” Performance by AXIS Dance Company, YouTube, AXIS Dance Company, 27 Oct. 2011, youtu.be/8Fe2XIB0Dh0.
Mahk Jchi by Ulali
“My native Nation is a neighboring Tribe to the Tutelo and for the most part most of our people have no recollection of our native languages and a lot of our traditional ways. However, so much has returned and keeps coming back and this song is our contribution to our languages and perspective. It brought a lot of pride for our peoples in the Carolinas being Tuscarora and singing in Tutelo. Also, that we are women singing with hand drums is considered a revolutionary resurgence since colonization had taken so many rites and rituals away from our peoples everywhere. Women were told they cannot sing and drum by many communities… When in fact the drum itself came from and through the women and the big drum was given to the men by the women long ago. We respect the many drum societies and how they have evolved…but it is our rightful place to pick up hand drums and sing. It’s like prayer and connection. It was said that when the women pick up the drum and begin to sing… Peace will come to the People.”
Mahk Jchi tahm boo-ee yahm pi-gih-dee
Mahk Jchi tahm boo-ee kahn speh-wah eh-bi (x2)
Mahm-pi wah ho-ka yi nonk,
tah hond tah-ni kih-yee tai-yee
Ghee weh meh yee-tai-yee,
Nan-ka yaht yah moo-ni-yeh wah-jhi-seh
Translation provided by Pura Fé:
Our hearts are strong, our minds are good
Our Ancestors come and bring us strength and say Never forget who you are…where you come from Stand Tall, Sing and Dance
“Ulali – Mahk Jchi (Heartbeat Drum Song) – with Lyrics & Translation.” Performance by Ulali, YouTube, MyMoppet52, 29 Jan. 2015, youtu.be/bOn4vIybDU8. Video has incorrect translations
(Pre K-2nd Grade)
I Will Fight Monsters for You by Santi Balmes
Martina is scared of the monsters in the night. The sweet girl is convinced an upside-down city populated by monsters exists beneath her bedroom floor. Her father reassures her that he will fight monster for her and Martina manages to fall asleep.
Anitram, a sweet monster, is afraid of humans and her father promises to fight her fears for her. As they sleep, a hole magically opens between the two upside-down worlds and they are able to join hands. With this act of friendship, the girl and the little monster overcome their fear of the unknown and discover how much they have in common.
In order to get both sides of the story, readers have to turn and flip the book itself in different directions. It is a creative way to ask students to look at the same story from different perspectives.
Balmes, Santi. “I Will Fight Monsters for You.” School Library Journal, www.slj.com/?reviewDetail=i-will-fight-monsters-for-you.
(3rd – 8th Grade)
The Mysteries Of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg.
In the introduction of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, Chris Van Allsburg wrote that thirty years ago a man named Harris Burdick called the office of Peter Wenders. Burdick had written fourteen stories and had drawn pictures for each one. He brought only one drawing for each story to see if Wenders liked his work. Peter Wenders wanted to read the stories that went along with the drawings so they both agreed to meet up the next morning. However, Harris Burdick was never seen again after that encounter. Burdick had written a title and caption for each picture he left behind. Many have been inspired to write their own stories for each of these pictures.
We believe that students will have the opportunity to “fill in the blanks” with this book and potentially reveal things about themselves and how they view the world. It will open their minds to the possibility that others may see things differently than them.
Van Allsburg, Chris. The Mysteries Of Harris Burdick. Houghton Mifflin, 1984.
“Strawberry Fields Forever” by La Santa Cecilia
In an interview with the GRAMMY Museum, La Santa Cecilia stated that they felt a connection to the Beatles song, “Strawberry Fields Forever,” after driving by the strawberry fields outside of Los Angeles while listening to the song. Marisol “La Marisoul” Hernández found it amazing how a song created by four British men could be connected with these migrant workers working long hours in these strawberry fields. She wanted this song to be a way for people to acknowledge the beauty of their work and to remember where our fruit comes from. It’s so easy to forget when you’re just grabbing things at the grocery store, but it’s always nice to acknowledge the people behind the scenes.
Digital Artist José Andres Gutierrez-Rivera, expanded on the creative process behind animating the “Strawberry Fields Forever” music video. “The whole concept was showing the migrant workers at the strawberry fields in California and the struggle of being undocumented and how they were being exploited. What I brought to the table was how to take those elements and turn it into a linear narrative.”
Rivera hopes that Latinx students who have family that experience this type of labor will be able to relate to it and not think it’s necessarily depressing but a part of reality.
“The whole concept was showing the migrant workers at the strawberry fields in California and the struggle of being undocumented and how they were being exploited. What I brought to the table was how to take those elements and turn it into a linear narrative.”
Ramirez, Karen, and Guiterrez-Rivera José Andres. “Windows and Mirrors – Strawberry Fields Forever.” July 2019.
La Santa Cecilia. “La Santa Cecilia Connect Beatles Hit Strawberry Fields Forever To Migrant Workers | GRAMMYs.” YouTube, The GRAMMYS, 2014, youtu.be/M39hOkQuy9E.
“La Santa Cecilia – Strawberry Fields Forever.” Performance by La Santa Cecilia, YouTube, La Santa Cecilia, 4 Aug. 2014, youtu.be/nkNv5Y1_Q4c.
Cartonlandia by Ana Serrano
Ana Serrano is a first-generation Mexican American and is inspired by the intersection of her dual cultural identities. She is best known for creating work that references the built environment using brightly-colored cardboard and paper. While her work highlights the socio-cultural and architectural elements of urban life found in Latino neighborhoods all across the US, she is very much inspired by her hometown of Los Angeles, California.
Ana Serrano creates contradictions in order to elevate the value of things, places, and people that are commonly thought of as insignificant, providing a mirror for those who feel less seen.
Serrano, Ana. “BIO / CV.” Ana Serrano, www.anaserrano.com/pagecv.