Tag Archives: artists

A Friendly Plug

We were so pleased to have the Southeast Steuben County Library participate in this year’s Garden of Fire Festival.

Partner in art, Erica Unterman, is an art adventurer currently disguised as a Youth Specialist at the public library.  She designs programs for children of all ages.

For the Garden of Fire Festival she offered something super unique and FUN: squirt gun painting!

Read all about it on the “Teen Tones” blog!>>

Science & Art

What is the connection between science and art?

This is the type of question that adults might ask when they hear about the Garden of Fire summer program. We have been taught to see science and art as antithetical. Science is objective while art is subjective. Science is a product of reason and art is a product of emotion.

Garden of Fire challenges those assumptions.

The impulse to make art may start out with emotion, but there is a lot of rational thought that goes into making a piece of art a reality. The artist deals with materials whose physical properties determine how they can be used. Like scientists and engineers, artists are constantly pushing the physical limits of their materials – inventing new ways for the materials to be used. As with science and engineering, invention requires mathematics, physics, and chemistry.

On the other hand, we imagine science as a bloodless pursuit devoid of emotion and passion, but this is not the case. Scientists are creative and inventive, asking questions about common sense assumptions and breaking boundaries. Like art, science can be disturbing, exciting, awe inspiring.

The students involved in the Garden of Fire don’t think about art and science this way at all. They haven’t fully absorbed society’s message that there is a deep divide between the two endeavors. They’re just having fun learning.

Garden of Fire summer program launches next week – and we couldn’t be more excited!

Connie Sullivan-Blum
Executive Director of The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes

Summer Changes Everything: Garden of Fire to Present at Baltimore Conference

2015 Conf badge-presenterI am very pleased to be presenting at the 12th Annual National Summer Learning Association Conference. This year’s conference theme, Renewing the Promise and Purpose of Learning, celebrates the joy of learning, the perfect tie-in with our own Garden of Fire Summer Program.

I, Gigi Alvaré , Director of Education at The Rockwell Museum, will travel to Baltimore to present with my colleagues Emily Hofelich-Bowler and Alli Lidie; we’ll present on how networking and collaboration can spark innovation in summer programming.

Gigi Alvaré, Director of Education at The Rockwell Museum, reads the Garden of Fire story during the first summer session

Our presentation, entitled Garden of Fire: Reaping the Rewards of Community Networking Through a Joint Summer Program, will highlight how several organizations and programs came together in a rural community to create a rich summer program for youth. The Garden of Fire was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Challenge America Grant after the first summer of programming.

The session will give context to the Garden of Fire collaboration with an opening discussion, led by Alli Lidie, Deputy Director and White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellow of AfterSchool Works! NY: the New York State Afterschool Network (ASW:NYSAN). Alli will speak about the structure for regional after-school networks in New York State that bring together both after-school and summer providers in their communities. The Garden of Fire program grew out of the relationships formed through network participation, and through work with The Triangle Fund, a funder and member of the network. The session will also touch on work done by other regional networks in New York.

Emily Hofelich-Bowler, Executive Director of the Addison Youth Center
Emily Hofelich-Bowler, Executive Director of the Addison Youth Center, presents her owl friend to students

The Garden of Fire is a project conceived collaboratively by local organizations whose purpose is to build capacity, depth and the integration of art and science for programs serving at-risk youth in Steuben County, New York. Emily Hofelich-Bowler, Executive Director of the Addison Youth Center, will speak about networking with the local school districts to optimize resources, and how incorporating state-wide learning initiatives (STEM) as part of the program gave the summer program more leverage and legitimacy in asking for school support.

By providing programming led by professional artists and educators held in museums, gardens, and fields, the local community and region opens up to students who otherwise might have very limited opportunities. It is our hope that the model program we have collectively created will spark the imagination and action of other communities to build their own Gardens of Fire.

Together we can care for our most precious gifts: the earth itself and the children who live on it. 

Gigi1Gigi Alvaré
Director of Education
The Rockwell Museum

Making Animal Friends with the Garden of Fire

Our summer program is up and running!  We have planned many activities with community partners for our kids, one being The Garden of Fire. Having had their first session with the Rockwell Museum and Tanglewood Nature Center, the children are excited to continue the journey and explore all that the Garden of Fire offers.

Week One began with the Garden of Fire story, read by Gigi Alvare, The Rockwell’s Director of Education. Students were assigned roles in the story and used animal puppets to say their lines.



Parents were invited to participate in the day’s program.


Students met various garden animals with Ian of Tangle Wood Nature Center & Museum. They drew pictures of the animals in their Garden of Fire journals and wrote a bit about what they learned.







I sat down and had a conversation with one of our kids, Kennedy, asking her what she thought of the program so far. Here is what Kennedy had to say in regards to the Garden of Fire;

I thought the story was really cool and I got to hold the deer puppet.  They helped me to understand what a metaphor is because they explained that it was a garden looked like it was on fire, when it actually was not.  All of the animals from Tanglewood were super cool.  They and the story helped me to understand the cycle of a garden and how it all works. I am really excited about what is to come from all of the artists and the different things we get to make.  I cannot wait for the festival and think that it will be really, really fun.

To see the excitement from the kids who are just starting to be involved with the Garden of Fire,  and the kids who have been involved in years past, shows that learning over the summer can be fun.  We look forward to hearing from the kids each week on what they learned and what they look forward to with the coming sessions.  The excitement for the festival is contagious and we look forward to being part of such an awesome project and day.

Mary Ellen Monahan
Missi Allison
The Salvation Army Summer Program Directors

Synergy Through Artistic Collaboration

Under the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Challenge America grant, a new public art piece is under way.

I (Amy Ruza, Education Programs Coordinator at The Rockwell) am collaborating with metal artists Tony Moretti and Gwen Quigley from Hammondsport, NY to create a sculpture made from glass, metal and natural materials. We’ll celebrate the unveiling of the artwork at the Garden of Fire Festival, held at CareFirst this coming August 2015. We are combining our glass-blowing and metal-working skills to fabricate a mixed-media sculpture that connects to the themes of the summer youth program.

Amu Ruza gathers glass to create a glass squash.
Artist and educator Amy Ruza gathers glass to create a glass squash.

The carefully-planned design puts a twist on the traditional Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) “Three Sisters” crops: corns, beans and squash. The sculpture will also invoke the importance of wind in gardening, related to pollination, and the use of wind energy to help sustain plant growth.

The sculpture is still in its early stages, but imagine this:
A tall sunflower with a glass center,  surrounded by spinning metal petals. Below, spherical glass peas in metal pods, along with a glass squash plant with large, twisty metal leaves and vines.

These colorful glass mandalas will represent the centers of the sunflowers.
These colorful glass mandalas will represent the centers of the sunflowers.

The blown-glass parts were made at The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning. Tony and Gwen will fabricate the metal parts at their home studio. The completed sculpture will be relatively easy to install and de-install, making it a non-permanent sculpture with the goal of being re-exhibited at multiple locations around the region.

While it is certainly necessary for youth to create art themselves, it is equally as important to expose them to professional-quality, contemporary, artistic creations.   Art inspires us by provoking creativity, an awareness of new ideas, and giving us an experience that engages all of our senses, enlightening our spirits and connecting us as people. 

Participants will recognize artists Tony Moretti and Gwen Quigley from their participation in last year's Garden of Fire program.
Participants will recognize artists Tony Moretti and Gwen Quigley from their participation in last year’s Garden of Fire program.

The sculpture will show how artists from different backgrounds can work together to create something harmonious to share with the world.

We are grateful for this artistic opportunity to stay involved in the community as artists and to have this chance to work together to experiment with new ideas.  Receiving the NEA grant has opened up a creative doorway into a new collaboration with exciting, technically challenging and inspiring ideas to interweave blown glass, metal and other natural materials.

Stay tuned for the completion and unveiling of this sculpture at the Garden of Fire celebration on August 14, 2015!

Amy Ruza
Education Programs Coordinator
The Rockwell Museum