In 1995, while still in college, I had the pleasure of working with a group of young men from Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth in Canaan NY. Called The Bounce Project, conceived and managed by Brett Hershey, together we choreographed and designed a performance that highlighted their skills and helped them build an artistic voice. We performed at Williams College, Jacob’s Pillow, and at their school. That experience challenged me to understand my own perceptions and today still informs the work that I do and how I do it. I learned that being myself and consistent were important strategies to use in order to help the group build a space that felt safe. It allowed the young men to be courageous enough to put down the walls that they used as protection and explore collaboratively how to voice their ideas through the arts. I was reminded of this experience when Chuck Paquette, the dance teacher for The Bounce Project, posted the image above on Facebook. That is me standing on the right, arms on hips at the Inside Out stage, Jacob’s pillow.
20 year later: Yesterday, an exhibition of teen work curated by teens, with specific attention made to finding young artists who go to school or live in the Bronx, was opened in the Bronx Court House. Based on the 70 works that submitted, the teen curators chose 24 to be a part of the exhibition and that fit the theme that they call Future Fix.
I felt proud to be part of an organization that helped to make this happen. While the organization No Longer Empty worked tirelessly to put together and exhibition of professional artists in the field. ArtsConnection teaching artist in the Teen Reviewers and Critics program, Nathan Sensel, worked with a group of teens learn curatorial techniques and mount the exhibition of works the teen artists. As with prior teen exhibitions ArtsConnection has mounted with No Longer Empty, the work seamlessly fit into the entire exhibition. It was a proud day for me.
Berkshire Farm: http://www.berkshirefarm.org/about_us/
Bronx Court House: 878 Brook Ave. Exhibition open Thursday-Sunday until July 19th. 2 or 5 train to 149 and 3rd Ave. Bx 15 to 161st or walk up 3rd ave.