Earlier this year, SPARC was selected to be an Arts Community Partner through LAUSD Arts Education Branch’s Arts Community Network (ACN) Program led by Executive Director, Rory Pullens. The Arts Community partnership allows SPARC to bring arts education programming to the most underserved schools on the arts equity index. This Spring semester, SPARC served 353 students from TK-6th grade in a total of 14 classrooms at the Judith F. Baca Arts Academy (JB Arts), named after SPARC’s Founder and Artistic Director, Judy Baca.
On June 1st and June 2nd, 2017, SPARC hosted culminating events celebrating the completion of art programs with performances and exhibitions showcasing the students’ artworks after their 10-week workshops. The event was open to the entire school and the students’ families.
Edison Elementary Instructor, Jacqueline Fuentes, returned to JB Arts teaching music 7 classrooms ranging from TK, Kindergarten, to 4th grade students in both English and Spanish. The students performed a series of traditional Spanish songs as well as contemporary music around the themes of heritage, unity, and empowerment. Jacqueline’s classes were all supported by her teaching assistant, Leslie Guardado.
Similarly, Edison Elementary Instructor/UCLA Professor and SPARC’s Artist in Residence, Martha Ramirez-Oropeza, taught choral poetry to 3rd and 4th grade students focusing on the importance of education and our unending role as students during our lifetime in both English and Spanish. Wendy Vazquez worked closely with Martha as her teaching assistant.
UCLA Graduate Student in World Arts and Cultures, Rayven Armij, taught two 1st grade classrooms Baile Folklorico. Rayven believes that Baile Folklorico is regional and so the students brought us Baile Folklorico from Los Angeles! Rayven’s class was supported by her teaching assistant, Jatziry Callejas.
UCLA Graduate Student in the Dept. of Chicana/o Studies Silvia Rodriguez returns to the stage with her 6th grade theatre class performing a meaningful play conceptualized and written by the students in response to the current events, reminding us that the political is personal! The play focused on solidarity and compassion. Jatziry Callejas also worked with Silvia as her teaching assistant.
On the second day of the culminating event, the auditorium was transformed into a large gallery space where students from the Emancipation Project, printmaking, and photography classes exhibited their final works.
For the first time ever, Teaching Artist, Kay Brown, introduced the world of printmaking to two 2nd grade classes using a range of materials from sliced vegetables to leaves and ink of all colors! The final pieces included patterns, self-portraits, and their names. At the end of the event, the students were presented with their very first art portfolio. Kay’s class was supported by her teaching assistant, Dago Perez.
Another new art form introduced was Photography taught by ELACC Photography Professor and SPARC Neighborhood Pride Muralist, Mary-Linn Hughes. Mary-Linn used the camera technology of iPads and Adobe Photoshop applications to teach 5th grade students about framing, rule of thirds, point of view, and more. Additionally, the students learned how to create composites and diptychs using texts to tell a story. However, the students were startled when Mary-Linn presented the new tool they would be learning: a film camera. Each student took home a disposable film camera to document their world and communities and quickly learned the differences between analog and digital methods. At the end of the year, a student noted, “Thank you for helping us and giving us the confidence to do our work.” Mary-Linn’s class was supported by her teaching assistants, Dago Perez and Elaine Raif.
Lastly, on its 6th year, the Emancipation Project led by SPARC Project Manager, Carlos Rogel, welcomed 27 6th grade students to create self-portraits exploring students’ academic, professional, and personal dreams. As the 6th grade students prepare to graduate from the JB Arts Academy, the Emancipation Project is part of their legacy on campus as their portraits envisioning their future selves will be permanently installed in the school walls. Their visions present themselves as future doctors, humanitarians, athletes, and even the President of the United States. There were 8 Student Mentors that supported the project: Myisha Arellano, Aryelle Carter, Cristina Girod, Leslie Guardado, Zoe Leroy-Antaki, Desiree Martinez, Dago Perez, and Davida Persaud. The mentorship between the 6th grade students and their Student Mentors underline the importance of human connections and role models. Student Mentors do not only support the students artistically, but also support their identity formation and affirm their aspirations.
Spring of 2017 is only the beginning of SPARC’s Art Programming led by SPARC’s Arts Education Coordinator, Davida Persaud. Stay tuned for more on how SPARC invests in our future artists at the Judith F. Baca Arts Academy and beyond.