Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Free art and tech studio for grades 5-8 starts Sept. 26

Posted on 11 September 2017 by Calvin

Starting Tues., Sept. 26 and running for ten Tuesdays until Nov. 28, poet and performer Becca Barniskis will collaborate with musician Nick Jaffe to run the Word and Sound Lab, an open studio workshop for youth grades 5-8 that explores the intersection of poetry, sound, and video. This studio program will be held after school from 4:30-6pm Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W Minnehaha Ave. There will be a final public performance on Tues., Dec. 5.

iPads and other tech will be available to use, or participants may bring their own phone, laptop, tablet, or notebook. This activity is open and FREE for grades 5-8. No registration is necessary; just show up. Participants can attend one session or attend them all.

Specifically, participants will be introduced to poetry as a literary, performance, and digital medium by working with GarageBand and iMovie and other digital interfaces as a way to amplify their poems with visuals and music. Participants can quickly begin to experiment with conventional and unconventional musical and poetic concepts through the use of digital looping and editing.

The Word and Sound Lab, organized by Barniskis, is funded by an Arts Learning grant that she received from the Minnesota State Arts Board. In consultation with Hamline Midway library staff and her partner, musician Jaffe, she conceived of the lab as a place that will function on a studio model, with an emphasis on student-initiated and student-directed individual and group work. Student-directed public and semi-public performances and less formal open studio events will also be a regular feature of the lab program and will be designed to include the broader community. Emphasizing youth empowerment and free expression in an unrestricted civic space (a library) is vital in the current political climate when public support for art is under threat. This project gives St Paul youth the tools and time to make original art alongside their peers and professional artists.

Grade 5-8 youth in the Hamline Midway neighborhood represent a diverse cultural and economic group with a broad range of creative ideas and impulses. The Word and Sound Lab hopes to develop the artistic vision, skills, and habits of local youth in an in-depth way.

That not only empowers young people to make art on their own terms, it also supports the library’s stated vision to be “a cornerstone of a thriving city: welcoming people of all ages and cultures; strengthening neighborhoods and learning networks, and inspiring all with the world of ideas.” With the Word and Sound Lab, young learners will have additional opportunities to experience the Hamline Midway branch, and libraries in general, as sites not only for reading and learning but for making and sharing original art.
Each session will be coached by Barniskis and Jaffe.

Barniskis is a poet, performer, filmmaker and arts educator who lives in the Hamline Midway community. For almost 20 years she’s taught poetry to students of all ages and at all educational levels, from Pre-K to undergraduates to adults in public schools, libraries, and community centers. She is a widely recognized curriculum designer and arts education consultant with particular expertise in the teaching artist field, including co-authoring the foundational text, “The Teaching Artist Handbook” with Jaffe.

Barniskis’ poetry is widely published in literary journals and her chapbook, “Mimi and Xavier Star in a Museum that Fits Entirely in One’s Pocket.” was published in 2013. Barniskis performs regularly as a poet and singer with Downrange Telemetrics, a collaboration with Jaffe and others, and Pancake7, a funk/rock group she co-leads with Jaffe.

Jaffe is a professional musician, audio engineer and Illinois licensed K-8 teacher. For over 15 years he’s taught music, digital recording, video, and the physics of sound to students of all ages in schools and many other contexts. He has worked for more than two decades in a wide variety of musical contexts including as a sideman and band leader for many years in the Chicago soul, hip hop, funk world music and rock scenes. He has performed and collaborated with a wide range of artists on stage and in the studio including such major label artists as Common, Ice Cube and Dwele, as well as doing music for film and advertising. His educational guitar-centered YouTube channel, Justnickmusic, has over 50,000 subscribers and 6 million views.

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