Lovett Library, Saturday, June 9, Noon till 2 pm, 6945 Germantown Ave., Phila., PA 19119
The Community of Pride (COP) Mural and Literacy Project continues to unfold at Eleanor C. Emlen public school. Children’s minds open up to interests and skills they did not know they had—opening doors to their hearts, souls, and precious creativity. Now it’s time to celebrate this year’s young Emlen artists.
We invite you to join us at their first ever reception and exhibition at Lovett Library, Saturday, June 9th at Noon. This project is about enriching children’s lives, offering inclusive opportunities and sharing the positive rewards of making and studying art together. We sincerely hope you can join us a we honor these amazing kids. All artwork will be for sale with proceeds going to the young artists. Plus tasty treats are being provided by High Point Cafe, Frosted Fox, and Night Kitchen. Admission is free.
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It started with some of our COP teaching artists going to the Fabric Workshop for an exhibition. What should our eyes behold but Faith Ringgold’s Tar Beach 2 Quilt! And why would that be so amazing to us? Because our young Emlen artists read and learned from that same book by reknowned African American artist, Faith Ringgold! So we reached out to Fabric Workshop and became partners for a magical day at their museum. FW even supplied the bus! For many, if not all of the kids, this was their first time ever in a museum. They saw the quilt they had studied during the year, read from her book, toured the museum, and participated in a screen printing workshop. Thank you Fabric Workshop! It’s amazing what love for the arts and for kids without access can do.
Now feast your eyes on their amazing day. You tell me if they had a good time.
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There is a story to be told, and it’s unfolding at East Mt. Airy’s Eleanor C. Emlen School, a public school with lack of access to art education. A public school where the children are guaranteed one meal a day, where many kids walk to school. But dreams are happening and endless possibilities are being introduced as the children immerse themselves in the creativity of the visual arts and related language arts.
Once a week, during the last two periods on Fridays, a 4th to 5th grade classroom gathers to work diligently on art and literacy. Focused energy abounds, as excitement about their projects grows each week. These students, with their teachers from the Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG), work together building artistic skills and a working arts-related vocabulary. Building vocabulary is a great way to build comprehension and expressive language.
The ultimate outcome is a mural that will become a legacy of their work, permanently affixed to an interior school wall. The process includes learning to observe, think, draw and speak with depth, meaning and expression. Each child has his or her own “quilt block” on this large mural, filled with imagery they have developed over the course of this year’s lessons. The pictures are about their community and themselves. Some are literal; some are metaphorical (and they know the meanings of such words). They know how to explain the foreground, background, focal points, proportions and perspectives of their images, and much more. Using their own work as references, as well as literary sources, they learn in context, the language of art and artists.
Using author and artist Faith Ringgold’s classic illustrated family story, Tar Beach, students are engaged in learning to interpret the book’s meaning. Teacher-guided discussion and subsequent drawing assignments tie into the main visual and verbal content of the book. The students at Emlen Elementary are all African American. Faith Ringgold is a highly successful African American artist — a valuable role model for these students.
Students engage in their creative work through a structured experiential, collaborative process that incorporates making art, critical thinking, vocabulary development, story telling, and interaction with teaching artists and visiting artists. They are thrilled when Mikel Elam, artist and manager of the Artist and Craftsman Supply, in Chestnut Hill, comes to visit. He brings his wealth of experience as an African American artist, his own art to share with students; and he always brings wonderful supplies to stimulate imaginations and enrich imagery.
The Community of Pride Mural and Literacy Project has opened these children’s minds to interests and skills many did not know they had. It has opened doors for them, doors to their hearts and souls; doors to their precious creativity.
Be part of the magic at Emlen and help us paint the mural. You can contact the Mt. Airy Art Garage at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 267.240.3302. Even better, come visit us at our gallery at 6622 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19119.
— Ruth Joray, Curriculum Designer/Artist
Where would we be without the support of our sponsors. We thank you!
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We’ve been busy at Emlen — talking about Faith Ringgold stories and art, learning art language and techniques, working on literacy through poetry and words, inviting guest artists (thank you Mikel Elam for being an artist role model and guest), filling portfolios and sketchbooks. Stay tuned as we fill you in on more details.
But for now, feast your eyes and enjoy… sometimes those pictures really can speak louder than words.
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America’s Got Talent Semi Finalist, at the age of 11? Opera Prodigy? Arielle Baril is all that, except today she is a whopping 14 years old! Arielle and her brother, Joshua Dufour (who taught her to sing), will be special guests at Emlen’s “Back To School Night” Tuesday, Sept. 26. They’ll be telling their stories and singing for the entire school! And what better launch for this next phase of the Community of Pride (COP) Mural and Literacy Project than to continue empowering children with community awareness and commitment while teaching art techniques, literacy, skill building, art history, and confidence. Arielle and Joshua will perform and speak about their experience as performing artists. They will also speak to pride…in your family, yourself, your culture, and your community. Want to know more? Check out Arielle on YouTube.
We, at the Mt. Airy Art Garage, see our partnership with Emlen, with Arielle and Joshua and their family, and a host of others, as yet another way to dream—to share and empower our children and the entire community to be inspired and motivated.
This event is free and open to the public. You won’t want to miss this.
Arielle Baril is a 14 yr. old classical opera singer who was recently seen on Season 10 of America’s Got Talent. Arielle is a Golden Buzzer Act who made it straight to Radio City Music Hall Live Shows. As the youngest performer that evening, Arielle was given the honor of closing a live telecast at Radio City for AGT where she was a semifinalist. Arielle has served as Master of Ceremony, sang at Madison Square Garden twice, competed as finalist in top Classical competitions, and several other events by invitation.
She is represented by Headline Talent for television and film primarily, but her passion is classical/art music. Arielle Baril and her team plan on releasing a classical EP and especially a single which will lay the foundation for future live shows.
Arielle will be in the 9th grade at Abington Jr. High School. Arielle is considered a child prodigy with a voice beyond her years. She was trained by her then 20-year old brother Joshua who recently graduated Ithaca College and will attending Columbia this fall. He continues to mentor her vocally.
Arielle now studies vocal performance with Dr. Barbara DiToro of Temple University. Arielle is currently working on a classical crossover EP with her brothers Christophe and Joshua who are talented musicians themselves.
Arielle strives to empower underrepresented children everywhere with the idea that all genres of music are available to them. As an underrepresented image in the classical world and as young person who chose this genre over others, Arielle is looking to establish herself as an artist whose mission is to convey a message to her peers to dream beyond the glass ceiling.
Joshua Dufour was born on February 23, 1995, in Drexel Hill, PA. He is the son of two Haitian immigrants. From a young age, Joshua’s passion has always been in the arts. At the age of 8, he joined the Archdiocesan Boy Choir of Philadelphia and sang with them for five years. He was a member of his high school’s concert and chamber choirs, the concert band and wind ensemble, the marching band and the drumline, as well as his high school’s musical theatre productions, presented at their very own Upper Darby Performing Arts Center. For his work in theatre, Joshua was nominated for the Cappie Award for Best Male Vocalist in the Greater Philadelphia area, as well as Best Male Critic.
It was during his final years of high school that his younger sister Arielle was old enough to start mimicking his singing around the house and imitating his operatic sounds. Joshua quickly realized that Arielle had a natural gift for the vocal arts and proceeded to train her in operatic soprano songs. Arielle’s unprecedented vocal ability soon led her to the America’s Got Talent stage where she received Heidi Klum’s Golden Buzzer and finished as a Semi-Finalist.
Joshua received his Bachelors of Science degree in Cinema & Photography, with a Concentration in Cinema Production and a Minor in Music, from Ithaca College in 2017. He has worked on various student films as a director, writer, producer, editor, and production designer. During his undergraduate education, he was a member of the Martin Luther King Scholars Program, a dynamic learning community dedicated to developing future leaders and global citizens through Dr. King’s legacy of social justice and equality. He received the Ithaca College Inspiration Award for his work in the community and on campus. This fall, Joshua is attending Columbia University’s School of the Arts to receive his Masters of Arts degree in Film Studies.
As a first-generation Haitian-American, Joshua believes a sense of self and culture is extremely important and he makes an effort to keep his Haitian roots intact. He is a firm believer that diversity is crucial to human development and that people must share their experiences in order to gain awareness of others. He dreams of becoming a director, producer, actor, and singer. His hope is to use his artistic voice to shine light on the social injustices of the world, spread awareness of race, culture, and ethnicity through artistic mediums, and give back to his brothers and sisters in Haiti.
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There is a story to be told, and it’s unfolding at Eleanor C. Emlen School, a public school with lack of access to the arts. A public school where the children are guaranteed one meal a day, where many kids walk to school. But dreams are happening and possibilities are being introduced as the children immerse themselves in the creativity of the visual arts, (performing arts an unexpected bonus), while we add on the critical literacy component in Phase 2. Hope and opportunity, along with pride and tears of joy and celebration, are opening new doors — led by artists from the Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG), teachers from Emlen, an inspired principal, Ms. Tammy Thomas, and, of course, the most amazing class of 4th and 5th grade kids ever.
The first word is children, the next word is pride, followed by creativity and making dreams happen. Year 1 of the Community of Pride (COP) Mural Project has been a year of exploration — talking, drawing, creating unique personal artwork incorporating self pride, family pride, and community pride. Finding artistic safe space that is accepting and creative. But even more… the stories:
· Denise Veronick, Emlen lead teacher, during the mural dedication: “We didn’t pick the best students (to be in the COP Project). We didn’t pick those with the highest grades or best attendance. We chose the ones we felt needed it the most, would be impacted the most, would affect their lives the most. I learned many important lessons. First, everyone is an artist in their own way. Everyone loves when another appreciates their work. These kids were brave and, in the end, reaped the benefits of putting themselves out there.
The group that came together to create this mural couldn’t have been more diverse. With our common goal in mind and our various abilities on display we created a beautiful and meaningful work of art. This is not something that happens in the School District of Philadelphia. This may have been a once in a lifetime opportunity for these young people. They learned to work with people who are very different from them. We shared a mutual respect for our differences. Even though I think we all witnessed the great learning opportunities throughout our time together, I can’t help but think of the lessons these students will take with them into their futures.”
· Touissant: “Toussaint came to Emlen as a 4th grader in the Autistic Support class. He was quiet and seemed to defer to the slightly older and slightly bolder children. In fact, I rarely heard him speak. I chose Toussaint to participate in this project as a 5th grader because of his artistic ability. When he put his mind to a project he saw it through to the end. He put all he had into his drawings, using every bit of space on the paper and using color like a pro.
As the project got started we watched Toussaint bloom into a whole new person. His confidence grew before our eyes. He made friends with a few students finding shared interests such as football and Pokemon. He was actually having full conversations, but that was only one example of his confidence. One class period we were going over a Powerpoint that consisted of words and pictures. When asked for a volunteer to read Toussaint’s hand shot up. (I knew he could not read all the words but he wanted to try.) He stood proudly and read the words out loud as I whispered them to him. He was able to put himself out there because he trusted the group to not make fun of him. He took a giant step in his social confidence that day. Plus he ended up selling his original framed piece.” — Denise Veronick, teacher.
· Ishaaq: “Ishaaq came to Emlen for 5th grade. He was a student with limited academic ability and many behavior problems. The first few months of school his teacher complained that he did no school work — all he did was draw all day. We later found out that he couldn’t do the work so he did what he did best, draw.
Whenever Ishaaq came to work on the mural he had perfect behavior and worked harder than anyone else. He had found his niche at Emlen School. His two drawings were a prominent part of the mural. Had he not been a part of this group I fear the growth we saw in June would not have happened. He carried himself with pride, his behavior was completely turned around and his school work was getting done. I saw him the morning of his 5th Grade Move Up Ceremony, he was bursting with pride and looking forward to getting awards in front of his classmates. (I gave him an Art Award and his teacher gave him a Most Improved Award)” — Denise Veronick, teacher.
Celebratory breakfast honoring the participants at Emlen for Mural Dedication Day.
· Naomi: Naomi showed she had a flair for showing what pride meant to her. She drew a picture of her uncle who is a firefighter along with his fire truck. She spoke about how proud she and her family are of her uncle. She also drew an excellent picture of a hip-hop dancer. This drawing captured the attention from an adult who wanted to own this drawing. They negotiated a price, discussed time spent and value, Naomi signed her work, and both walked away happy.
· Mom, crying at mural dedication: “I am so happy that my child is going to Emlen. Thank you so much for doing this.”
And yet, there was more… what we lovingly refer to as the “icing on the cake”:
MAAGs exhibition of “Having Our Say” at PTC! Kids are loving every minute.
· Free tickets and a bus to see “Having Our Say” at the Philadelphia Theater Company (PTC) was a highlight. Thank you PTC for your partnership with MAAG! Most of the students had never been to see a live play. They were all dressed up and on their best behavior. They made us all proud! And at the end of the performance they all got to see MAAGs art exhibition in the gallery. Even better, one child texted her Mom during the entire show — it was her first time ever going to a live performance in a theatre. And Mom said, for her daughter’s birthday, they were next going to see “Wicked,” and we were sworn to secrecy!
For most of these kids, it was their first time for live theatre. And they turned it out! Proud of YOU!
· Art At City Hall student showcase: A special invitation from the Philadelphia Office of Arts and Culture to showcase the work of the children from the COP Mural Project where art is making a difference in the community. Exhibition runs from August 7 – Sept. 29 with the reception on Wed., Sept. 27 in Rm 116.
Hip Hop Girl — SOLD!
· Young artists selling their work: We never saw it coming. Framed original artwork, ready to go to City Hall, were all over the COP artroom. Two students sold their work. So, next year, part of the program will involve framing all artwork, creating their own artists bio’s, with sale prices attached. In short, curating and selling their work!
So, you may ask, what’s next? We can barely contain ourselves we are just that excited. As children chase the teachers and principal at Emlen to be in Phase 2 starting this September, we proudly announce we are adding a literacy component. You will be hearing more about the Community of Pride Mural and Literacy Project.
Just know this. Maybe, just maybe, you may be able to attend Emlen’s “Welcome Back to School” night on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 5:15 pm. Mt Airy Art Garage will be launching Phase 2 and featuring Arielle Baril (now 14 years old) who will be telling her story and singing for the entire school. Don’t know who she is? Well, check this out, and believe that you WILL want to be at Emlen on that night.
Stay tuned. There’s so much more going on. You won’t want to miss a thing.
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Friday, June 2 at 10 am, Eleanor C. Emlen School, 6501 Chew Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19119
Young Emlen artist points to his work with teacher Denise Veronick proudly looking on.
The Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG) has spent the last school year as artists in residence at Henry Houston and Eleanor C. Emlen public schools asking participating children in the Community of Pride (COP) Mural Project “What Makes You Proud?” Our goal has been to deepen a sense of community spirit and pride, using art as a means of communication among the children. It is with great pride and pleasure that we invite you to join us as we dedicate these murals, and celebrate the personally expressive imagery, all created by the children, that have been incorporated into the large scale on site murals.
Main mural dedication:
Eleanor Emlen School, Friday, June 2 @ 10 am, guests meet in Conference Room 110
6501 Chew Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19119
We plan to celebrate with the entire Emlen school at an auditorium celebration. Plus you’ll then get be part of the actual mural dedication including framed drawings by participating student artists. Individual drawings from both schools will then move on to City Hall for a summer exhibition.
There will also be a smaller scale mural dedication at Houston School, Wed., May 31 @ 11 am, 7300 Rural Lane, Phila., PA 19119. Please check at the entrance for the meeting room.
Thanks to Jon Laidacker and Mural Arts for your support in helping us get these murals hung!
We have built a culture of goodwill that cuts across political or cultural differences and even embraces them. This project is about enriching children’s lives, offering inclusive opportunities and sharing the positive rewards of making art together. We sincerely hope you can join us a we honor these amazing kids. Admission for the exhibition and opening is free.
We thank everyone who has donated and supported us for Phase 1 of the COP Project. We especially appreciate all the ongoing support we have received from East Mt. Airy Neighbors Community Fund (Philadelphia Foundation) — we couldn’t have done it without you! Stay tuned for Phase 2 as we introduce the Community of Pride Art & Literacy Project.
Support provided in part by:
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Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG) is proud to be launching our Community of Pride Mural Project in two local elementary schools this week!
MAAG Teachers + Emlen and Houston Teachers = The Dream Team
The Community of Pride Mural Project begins with a conversation. We are asking students at Eleanor C. Emlen and Henry Houston public schools “What makes you proud?” Answers range from friends and family members, to more abstract ideas, to personal collections or achievements. Over the next four months, through weekly art classes lead by MAAG professional artist teachers, the children will develop and fully realize their ideas and images. MAAG artists will design a unique mural for each school consisting of these original drawings. The murals will be painted by the students and publicly installed in each school, so the children can see their work every day, honoring their collaborative effort while simultaneously providing a source of personal pride. When asked why they wanted to create a mural, one 5th grader from Houston said “Teamwork makes the dream work!” It is precisely that spirit we embrace in this project.
The goal of the project is to deepen a sense of community spirit and pride, using art as a means of communication among the children. The project will aid in building a culture of goodwill that cuts across political or cultural differences and even embraces them. This project is about enriching children’s lives, offering inclusive opportunities, and sharing the positive rewards of making art together.
The participating schools lack art programs or funding for more creative programming. MAAG artists will be guiding the students in making personally expressive imagery that will become incorporated into the larger collaborative images. The transformative power of authentic art experiences, especially in the lives of children who are disadvantaged, cannot be underestimated. Being surrounded by one’s own artistic renditions and sharing them with peers builds communication skills, confidence, and self-esteem. As a community arts organization, it is critical for us to support the schools and children in our community.
For more information and to learn how you can help, or to track the project’s progress, follow Mt. Airy Art Garage on Facebook and Instagram, or visit www.mtairyartgarge.org. You can also track #MAAGPopsUp on social media platforms.
We also want to thank our growing list of community sponsors who are making the Community of Pride Project possible:
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Mt. Airy Art Garage
6622 Germantown Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19119
Solomon Levy Gallery Hours
Wed. — Saturday, Noon till 6 pm.
Sundays by appointment.