Artist Connect: Susan Peterson

In an effort to connect our communities and networks with our teaching artists, we are beginning a new blog series called "Artist Connect". Each week, we will feature one of our artists on our roster and dive deeper into their art form and history with Young Audiences. 

Susan Peterson just recently completed a semester long residency at Longfellow Elementary School. During the 18 week residency, Susan worked with 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classrooms for a total of 72 creative sessions. Students were given a theme of "Ocean" and were able to have their creativity take over. The result is a beautiful mural, installed at the school for future generations. Read below to find out more about Susan Peterson and her passion for arts education.

 Susan Peterson has taught ceramics, papermaking, bookbinding, printmaking, mask making, and sculpture. In addition to teaching, she creates and exhibits her works of sculpture, much of which has been inspired by her travels to Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Susan Peterson has taught ceramics, papermaking, bookbinding, printmaking, mask making, and sculpture. In addition to teaching, she creates and exhibits her works of sculpture, much of which has been inspired by her travels to Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Getting to know...Susan Peterson

Can you tell us a little bit about your art form?

I have been a ceramic sculptor for many years. My imagery was animals and made commentary on environmental issues. I incorporated found objects into the pieces. These days I am making collages from magazines with imagery of flowers, rose windows, and mandalas.

What has been the most memorable part of the programs you have brought to students with Young Audiences?

All the tile murals have been my most memorable. They create such a strong validation of the children’s artwork, and look fantastic.

How do the lessons and skills you teach students about or through your art form apply to their everyday life outside of the classroom?

We talk about all things in the world that are made of clay – from the tiles in your kitchen or bath, to the dishes you eat on to the bricks that buildings are made of.

Why do you believe it is important for every student to have access to the arts?

Many children suffer trauma. A recent study by a pediatric doctor revealed that 67% of Americans have experienced trauma. Art heals. Art is like vitamins, it feeds you.  Also, there are many different ways we learn. Art making is one way that we can absorb knowledge. Some students do not enjoy school, but love art class. We can sneak lessons of math, science, etc into art class. Making a lesson visual can make it more exciting. I love what I do because it brings such joy to so many. I also like the quote “Science makes life easier, Art makes it worthwhile”.

How does your art form help connect students to what they are learning in school?

Ceramics has connections to both the visual arts and science. We do this through connections  to particular subject matter that the children are studying, such as animals, oceans, and health. Most recently, I used the current volcanic action on the Big Island of Hawaii and the lava flow to make a parallel to the process ceramic glazes go through to transform from dry chalky paints to a rich, glossy finish.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Thank you to Susan Peterson for providing these responses. Learn more about her here!

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Artist Connect: Larry Wilson-Slightly Askew Productions

In honor of the month of March being Theater in Schools Month, Young Audiences honors our artists who showcase the power of theater in arts education. All "Artist Connect" blog posts will feature our many artists who use theater to engage students. 

Remember: Young Audiences is offering a $100 discount on Larry Wilson and nine other roster artists. Available until March 31st! Find out more about that here

 Larry Wilson has performed in schools across America, teaching magic and the scientific principles behind a magician’s secrets, including friction, magnetism, static electricity, surface tension, persistence of vision, depth perception and psychology. Larry has performed at the Magic Castle, the most famous club for magicians in the world, in addition to hundreds of appearances on television, a nomination for an Emmy award, his own television specials and live performances all over the world.

Larry Wilson has performed in schools across America, teaching magic and the scientific principles behind a magician’s secrets, including friction, magnetism, static electricity, surface tension, persistence of vision, depth perception and psychology. Larry has performed at the Magic Castle, the most famous club for magicians in the world, in addition to hundreds of appearances on television, a nomination for an Emmy award, his own television specials and live performances all over the world.

Getting to know...Larry Wilson

Can you tell us a little bit about your art form?

Magic? What’s to tell? Everyone loves it because we all secretly believe there is more to life than what we see on the surface. When you have that moment of pure astonishment it feels like, “I knew it!”

What is your teaching philosophy and how do you use that to approach each new audience/classroom?

My philosophy is very controversial. I believe—and I know some people will say I’m crazy for saying this—that children are actually miniature people. Everything begins and ends with communication so you must understand what matters to them, what are their hopes and fears. Then you can frame things in a way that makes sense to them. They can learn anything if you present it in a manner that resonates with them.

How do the lessons and skills you teach students about or through your art form apply to their everyday life outside of the classroom?

Nothing is really impossible. That’s quite empowering for kids who frequently feel they have no power. It’s tempting to think that life is a fixed, static reality. Magic demonstrates dramatically that it is not. We believe what we perceive. And once you begin to understand that you possess the power to affect how you are perceived you realize that most limitations are self-imposed.

Why do you believe it is important for every student to have access to the arts?

For the same reason Renaissance scholars encouraged it. Our capacity for development is unlimited. But, it doesn’t happen if you’re focused on one specific discipline to the exclusion of all others. Ideally, students should be exposed to music, painting, dance, theater, as well as mathematics, science, language arts and critical thinking. It’s the mix that makes great minds.

How does your art form help connect students to what they are learning in school?

Magic is just the word we use to describe things that seem impossible. Once we know how they’re done we use a different word—science! Students see that mastery and expertise are within their reach. I actually created a syllabus for teachers to use in conjunction with my program, “Top Secrets for Wizards in Training.” I have lesson plans they can use to teach about magic with science, magic with mathematics, magic with art, magic with language arts, magic with history and even magic with music. There is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to magic. Once you get students talking about what they’ve learned from me, it’s easy to make the jump to other subjects.

How did you first hear about Young Audiences? What made you decide to become a roster artist? 

I’m Executive Director of a nonprofit in Northern Nevada devoted to bringing the arts to school children. I travel back and forth between Reno and the Bay Area constantly so I did a little investigating and found Young Audiences. I’d rather be performing than sitting around in a hotel room so it’s perfect for me. I coordinate my corporate evening shows in the Bay Area with Young Audience shows during the day and it’s been a match made in heaven.

What has been the most memorable part of the programs you have brought to
students with Young Audiences? Do you have a favorite memory from a program?

 The most memorable part is the look on the faces of the teachers—they don’t expect me to be able to hold the attention of such young children for so long.

What are three words that describe your performances?

Theatrical. Mind-blowing. Fun.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Thank you to Larry Wilson for providing these responses. Learn more about them here!

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Artist Connect: Benny and Bebe's Magic Circus

In an effort to connect our communities and networks with our teaching artists, we are beginning a new blog series called "Artist Connect". Each week, we will feature one of our artists on our roster and dive deeper into their art form and history with Young Audiences. 

In honor of the month of March being Theater in Schools Month, Young Audiences honors our artists who showcase the power of theater in arts education. All "Artist Connect" blog posts will feature our many artists who use theater to engage students. 

Remember: Young Audiences is offering a $100 discount on Benny and Bebe's Magic Circus and nine other roster artists. Available until March 31st! Find out more about that here

 Magic Circus, an award-winning, educational entertainment theater company, provides assembly programs with science enrichment, environmental and visual education, as well as multicultural, history and performing arts learning. All of their programs include enthusiastic audience participation.

Magic Circus, an award-winning, educational entertainment theater company, provides assembly programs with science enrichment, environmental and visual education, as well as multicultural, history and performing arts learning. All of their programs include enthusiastic audience participation.

Getting to know...Benny & Bebe's Magic Circus

Can you tell us a little bit about your art form?

We combine performing arts such as acting, mime, dance, magic, circus arts and music. Our science program also includes visual arts with giant optical illusions.

What is your teaching philosophy and how do you use that to approach each new audience/classroom?

We like to inspire students and show them that learning is fun and a life long process. Waking student's enthusiasm about learning and discovering is something that fills our hearts. Each audience is slightly different and each performing situation has its own challenges. To be in the moment with that keeps our performances fresh and alive

How do the lessons and skills you teach students about or through your art form apply to their everyday life outside of the classroom?

Part of our science program is environmental education where we motivate students
to change their everyday behavior when it comes to caring about the environment
with simple steps such as recycling and using a cloth bag to go shopping.

With our multicultural program, we try to build bridges to show the humor and
common humanity in all cultures around the world. Students with multicultural
background identify with the vignettes from their countries of origin.

Why do you believe it is important for every student to have access to the arts?

Artistic expression fosters self esteem and creativity that will help also in academic
learning.

What are three words that describe your performances?

Science - Magic - Multicultural learning

What has been the most memorable part of the programs you have brought to
students with Young Audiences? Do you have a favorite memory from a program?

There are many favorite memories - one of them is when after our science show
students came up to us and said “ I want to become a scientist too”. Another one is
the feedback from a teacher after our multicultural show at a school with low income
families. He said: “ You brought the world to our students!”

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Thank you to Benny Buettner and Bebe Conrad for providing these responses. Learn more about them here!

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Artist Connect: Clara Kamunde

In an effort to connect our communities and networks with our teaching artists, we are beginning a new blog series called "Artist Connect". Each week, we will feature one of our artists on our roster and dive deeper into their art form and history with Young Audiences. 

In honor of Black History Month, Young Audiences honors the many artistic and historic accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans. The first few "Artist Connect" posts will be of our artists that honor and celebrate the incredible stories of wisdom, courage and power of African-Americans through their art. 

 The power of creativity and play to catalyze personal change inspires Clara’s work as a performer, teacher, laughter yoga leader, and team builder. Clara brings her experiences to the classroom to encourage play-based self-realization and to enable individuals and communities to thrive.

The power of creativity and play to catalyze personal change inspires Clara’s work as a performer, teacher, laughter yoga leader, and team builder. Clara brings her experiences to the classroom to encourage play-based self-realization and to enable individuals and communities to thrive.

Getting to know...Clara Kamunde, Storyteller

Can you tell us a little bit about your art form?

The shortest distance between two people is a story. Storytelling is also a universal human trait. We make meaning through our constructed narratives and storytelling is an interactive process that brings people together to discover ourselves.

What is your teaching philosophy and how do you use that to approach each new audience/classroom?

I think of myself as a facilitator and believe that learning is an active, constructive process. My approach to an audience or a classroom is to invite investigation and discovery through process.

How does your art form help connect students to what they are learning in school?

Storytelling is the oldest educational tool and even in the digital age students love oral storytelling and narrative can be used across the curriculum to bring subjects/content to life.

How do the lessons and skills you teach students about or through your art form apply to their everyday life outside of the classroom?

Communication, collaboration and critical thinking are skills embedded in the art of storytelling. These skills are among the constellation of 21st century skills every student needs to thrive outside the classroom.

Why do you believe it is important for every student to have access to the arts?

In too many schools cognitive skills are emphasized over other learning domains. However, emerging research suggests that students learn best by integrating cognitive skills with effective and psychomotor skills. I believe that art’s learning is the best way to do this, so it’s essential that every student have access to the arts.

What are three words that describe your performances?

Engaging. Entertaining. Enlightening.

What has been the most memorable part of the programs you have brought to students with Young Audiences?

Story Telling and Story Acting with the second grade students at a school in San Jose. Their ability to tell and then re-enact their stories has been really profound. Even shy students have volunteered to tell their stories and it’s gratifying to provide a forum where students feel confident that their fantasies and ideas have value.

What is the most rewarding aspect of becoming a Young Audiences roster artist?

To be able to work with an organization that has a strong commitment to and that advocates for arts education.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Thank you to Clara Kamunde for providing these responses. Learn more about her here!

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Artist Connect: Hip Hop Fundamentals

In an effort to connect our communities and networks with our teaching artists, we are beginning a new blog series called "Artist Connect". Each week, we will feature one of our artists on our roster and dive deeper into their art form and history with Young Audiences. 

In honor of Black History Month, Young Audiences honors the many artistic and historic accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans. The first few "Artist Connect" posts will be of our artists that honor and celebrate the incredible stories of wisdom, courage and power of African-Americans through their art. 

 Hip Hop Fundamentals is a diverse group of professional breakdance performers and instructors dedicated to teaching youth empowerment, social issues, and academic content through Hip Hop Dance.

Hip Hop Fundamentals is a diverse group of professional breakdance performers and instructors dedicated to teaching youth empowerment, social issues, and academic content through Hip Hop Dance.

Getting to know.....Hip Hop Fundamentals

Can you tell us a little bit about your art form?

Breaking (or Breakdancing) is, to me, the coolest dance on the planet. It’s incredibly technical and physically demanding, but it’s also very innocent, spontaneous, and soulful. Breaking, created by disenfranchised New York City youth in the 1970’s, began as an informal activity, a folk dance for the young and energetic. Since then, it has grown to be a youth-driven International phenomenon, and its inclusive nature allows for all ages, cultures, abilities, and individuals to create a home and find identity inside the Breaking circle. It’s entertaining, expressive, and unlike any other dance in the world.

How did you first hear about Young Audiences? What made you decide to become a roster artist?

Young Audiences approached Hip Hop Fundamentals in 2013, and we quickly realized that we wanted to collaborate with them. After working with other agencies, it was an uplifting experience to find an organization who truly cared about presenting quality arts education, getting programming to communities in need, and also looking after roster artists. Breaking is a very specific and often under-appreciated art form within Hip Hop dance, and Young Audiences embraced our art form and our teaching style, helping our company grow and succeed. I am a huge fan of the work Young Audiences has tirelessly done to simultaneously empower youth and roster artists.

How does your art form help connect students to what they are learning in school?

Where we can, we partner with schools to connect our workshops and residencies with themes, topics, or essential questions which students are currently studying in the classroom. We’ve linked everything from history and social studies to reading skills into our dancing, and because Breakdancing is so inherently creative, open, and youth-driven, it’s easy to connect its physical movements to any academic content. In terms of our assembly programs, we have performed shows which teach subjects like the American Civil Rights Movement to States of Matter in Physics. We are always looking for new ways to integrate Breaking into the classroom, as the arts can often be the most effective way to learn.

How do the lessons and skills you teach students about or through your art form apply to their everyday life outside of the classroom?

Breaking is a very dynamic, intense, and individualized dance form. To learn it, one must be disciplined, open-minded, persistent, and healthy. When we teach the dance in a community or classroom setting, students have to work together in small and large groups, practicing teamwork, confidence, and authoritative skills. Breakers also have to be creative, and learning Breaking (through our workshops or assembly programs) teaches an appreciation for diversity. Breaking (and Hip Hop) culture in general is a powerful example of diversity of culture, style, and ways of thinking. There’s a long list of positive influences which Breaking can provide, and to us, our art form is the perfect way for young people to practice life skills while having fun.

Why do you believe it is important for every student to have access to the arts?

To quote Pearl Schaeffer, my Arts Integration professor from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, “The arts let you be challenged without ever being wrong.” The arts require thought, action, and emotion simultaneously. The arts, particularly dance, utilize all parts of our brains. Every student needs:
-A voice
-A variety of ways to process information
-A community and a safe space
-An emotional outlet
-A series of never-ending (yet achievable) challenges

Because of these needs, the arts are not only important, they are vital to the growth of every student.

What are three words that describe your performances?

Dynamic, Engaging, and Fun.

What is the most rewarding aspect of becoming a Young Audiences roster artist?

Young Audiences allows me to do what I love for a living.

Where can we learn and see more about Hip Hop Fundamentals?

Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Website

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Thank you to Mark from Hip Hop Fundamentals for providing these responses. 

Remember: Young Audiences is offering a $100 discount on Hip Hop Fundamentals and five other roster artists. Available until February 15th! Find out more about that here

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