Tag Archives: arts education

It Takes a Village

The culminating festival for the Garden of Fire was a tremendous success from every aspect.

It takes a village,” as they say, and the program and festival could not have happened without all the amazing educators, artists, and community volunteers. We were delighted to have parents join us in celebrating their children’s accomplishments. The youths are the heart and joy of the program with their enthusiasm and eagerness to try new things.

The Garden of Fire: Summer of Water ironically took place during weeks of severe drought and heat in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. Each week of programs centered on topics including nature, growing cycles, healthy food, and art – highlighting the connection to water, importance of potable (drinkable) water, sounds & rhythms of water through music, reliance on water for life on Earth, and water pollution and conservation.

Suddenly, three days before the festival we were surprised with a series of thunderstorms and downpours. The much-needed water finally came! Naturally, we were a bit worried for the festival, BUT the morning of the celebration the dark clouds cleared and the sun shone bright and hot!

Kids reveled in all the water-themed activities, live music, art displays and games which opened and closed with a special ceremony.

In closing, we thank everyone who contributed and we look forward to 2017!

Amy Ruza
Education Programs Coordinator
The Rockwell Museum

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!>>

Youth Center Update: Hornell Area Concern for Youth

How do you put a value on something as great as the Garden of Fire!?

Our kids absolutely love it!  I must be honest,  I (Paul Shephard, Director of Hornell Area Concern for Youth) have never attempted a blog before but I feel compelled to make it more of a thank you to all involved.

For our agency to be associated with such a wonderful museum as The Rockwell is just so exciting for our staff and our kids! Amy Ruza and  Gigi Alvaré are such a pleasure to work with and have such a great way of connecting with our kids. The initial intro in which Gigi read her story and Amy added the sound effects is always great, and the way they involved the kids as animal characters was awesome.  Then, of course Ian Mclaughlin from Tanglewood bringing in his many animals and educating our kids on this years’ theme  of water was frosting on the cake.

Our kids loved the trip to The Rockwell for the clay animal sculpture project as well. They all commented on loving the messiness of it and how relatively easy it was to sculpt their animals with Amy’s direction.  I tried to make my sculpture in the shape of a buffalo as I am a big Bills fan but the final product resembled some sort of psychotic rabbit… at least I tried!

I would also like to put a “shout out” to Tara Chapman who came to our Canisteo location for the Rain Stick project. She was a great sport to put up with my music and disco lighting for the event… the kids loved her and enjoyed making their own personal rain stick !!   They all made great rain sticks that made beautiful rain noises when used… whereas mine ended up sounding more like a cat in a tornado.

Our trip out to Tanglewood was also very enjoyable. Ian took us on hikes and showed us the many animals there.  The kids loved the Bee presentation, though the giant turtle was their favorite. A big thanks to Sue Spencer for the engaging drum circle that day as well. Our kids stood up and danced like crazy, and Sue never skipped a beat. Well done !

Finally, last week, we took the bus to CareFirst for a natural elements building session with Tony Moretti and Gwen Quigley. They were true professionals, and inspired our kids into making a 7-foot tall water sculpture made from tree bark, branches and other forms of nature in which the water would travel. It reminded me of the old board game Mouse Trap… does that show my age?? The kids were able to saw, hammer, glue and paint their way to the finished product. Many of them said how proud they were to have structured something so massive.

As usual the summer has gone by soooooo swiftly. We are looking forward to the final celebration this Friday!

WindTunnel4Paul Shephard (That’s me on the right!)
Hornell Area Concern for Youth

Creating Fertile Ground for Healing, Growth, and Endless Possibilities

When a child is able to connect an experience in their life to the broader world around them, something magical happens!

There is a moment. An expression. A pause. A light bulb turns on, and a child who is struggling no longer feels alone. They feel safe. They feel understood. That is the moment in which we as counselors and educators can truly make a difference. When that moment combines with laughter, play, and creativity, then the possibilities for healing are endless.

Don’t get me wrong, these experiences are rare. Those of us who work with at-risk youth focus all efforts on creating those kinds of moments, but the truth is that you can’t force them – all you can do is create the space for them to happen. This work is what CareFirst and all of the other Garden of Fire partners are trying to accomplish in our summer programming. In the recent Rain Stick Making workshop led by CareFirst’s Tara Chapman, these moments were abundant.

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Photos courtesy of Dan Gallagher Photography

You can see the look in their eye as they were able to connect their emotional experiences to the world around them, and specifically, to this year’s theme of water. The children were able to talk about their life, times when they had difficult things happen, and how they cope with the intense emotions of life we all feel.  They used the symbol of water and created rain sticks that allowed them to create music and express themselves in a new and unique way.

These kinds of activities are what help young minds grow.

When we as humans combine nature and creativity with a chance to process our emotions and focus on our own well-being, it creates fertile ground for healing, growth, and endless possibilities.

There is no greater blessing than to see this in our youth and to know that the future of tomorrow is being left in the hands of children who have not only expanded their minds, but healed their hearts.

Chelsea E. Ambrose
Counseling Services Manager, CareFirst

“When the earth needs a drink, Mother Nature makes it Rain!”

There is something about the smell that lingers in the air after a rainstorm in the summer time… for me it is extremely calming and refreshing, and it brings back many memories of summers spent playing outside as a child.

Unfortunately, this summer we have had very few rainstorms, meaning far fewer chances to enjoy this experience. However, this week we were lucky enough to receive some much needed rain!

The rain triggered a conversation between myself and a 9-year-old girl. I asked her why she thought rain was important, and her answer was sweet and simple: “It helps everything on the earth, like plants so they are able to grow, and for people to drink!” She then continued with “When the earth needs a drink, Mother Nature makes it rain!”

 The Garden of Fire continues to spark imaginations this year with the theme of WATER.

So far this summer the Corning Youth Center has visited The Rockwell Museum to make clay animal sculptures to protect their gardens, they have made and decorated their own rain sticks while learning about how to cope with their own emotions, and they have visited the Tanglewood Nature Center to go on a hike, meet some of their fascinating animals, and participate in a drumming circle, all while learning about the importance of water.

In each of these activities youth were encouraged to use their imaginations and to be creative. For their animal sculptures at The Rockwell, each youth was asked to choose a specific animal that they themselves could relate to. Some youth chose a bird, some chose snakes, another chose an elephant, and a young girl chose a lion. When asked why she chose a lion, specifically a male lion, she said:

“Because lions are strong, courageous, and fierce, like me!”

These moments are why we love Garden of Fire.

Ashlee Peachey
Laura Richardson Houghton Corning Youth Center

 

Photos courtesy of Dan Gallagher Photography

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!

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

Rain Sticks: Music & Metaphor

In culture and literature from around the world, water represents emotions and obstacles that we need to overcome.

Water comes in all forms.  It can be intense and powerful like with hurricanes, floods and tsunamis; or it can soft and calming like a gentle rain or a babbling brook.

Our emotions work exactly the same way. Difficult life events can be destructive and leave us feeling overwhelmed. Positive life events can leave us feeling at peace. In order to learn how to cope with these emotions, we have to first be able to understand them. Using water as a metaphor can help us do that effectively.

This year for the CareFirst Garden of Fire program, youth participants will be making their very own rain stick as we talk about their emotions and how to cope with them.

Each group will engage in discussion about the history of rain sticks and the cycle of how emotion connects to their personal lives, the community we share and the cycle of re-shaping the earth and regrowth that occur in nature. The cycle of emotion will be connected by demonstrating the relationship between rain and emotions.

Each child will construct and decorate individual rain sticks using animals in nature that they feel best relate to their emotions. A bear could signify anger that they feel or strength and courage within oneself; a chameleon could be interpreted as smart and resourceful to blend into its current surroundings in basic survival.

The sounds made by the rain sticks can also be used to symbolize ones emotions for that time. For example, water can create a gentle or intense sound, which can be used to symbolize ones emotions.

We look forward to The Garden of Fire festival, when all of the children will be together, and will have the opportunity to use their rain sticks to create music as a group.

Tara Chapman
Grief Services Coordinator, CareFirst