Published for the Arts Based School Community
Oct 14, 2021
How We Do It and Why
By Mary Siebert
He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.
― St. Francis of Assisi
This week, we are celebrating and remembering 20 years of great art and artists at ABS. Diving into real art and connecting across curriculum is our goal at ABS, but “real art” is not easy to define. We model it by hiring accomplished artists as staff, by bringing working artists into the building, and by building relationships with arts venues all over the community.
Welcoming the Familiar
Over the past several weeks, we have welcomed the post-quarantine return of in-person visiting artists. “Mr. Bob” Moyer visited our school twenty years ago, during our first month of operations. He told stories from varied cultures, engaging students by asking them to help him retell the stories. Bob is expert at introducing the primary skills of theatrical performance to young children through drama games, storytelling, and puppets. He plays with communication and relationship, laying the very basic groundwork of listening, which is the crown jewel of acting. In first grade this week, Mr. Bob told about a tiger who almost eats a helpful teacher (in spite of the tiger’s earnest promises not to) and is lured back into his cage by a jackal. Once the students understood that the jackal was a trickster, they lustily volunteered to take turns playing all of the parts to retell the story. Bob partners with the teachers to help students recognize the structure of the story, the characters, and the setting, through dramatic play.
Welcoming the Unfamiliar
In 2006 or so, we had an unexpected opportunity to host a visit from Carrillo Montoya, a shaman of the indigenous Huichol people of northern Mexico. He was a master of yarn painting, and created vivid pictures depicting his dreams, by pressing dyed yarn into beeswax. He came into the 5th grade classroom, with a Spanish interpreter; a visit arranged for us by the Museum of Anthropology (now the Lam Museum) at Wake Forest.
Señor Montoya was losing his sight, and was here in W-S for surgery. He was slight and rather quiet, perhaps around 70 years old, and his skin was deeply weathered. He brought some of his beautiful paintings. When the students asked “How long have you been an artist?” he answered that he did not consider himself to be an artist. He was a spiritual leader, in his culture. He made his paintings to share messages with his people; not to sell or exhibit. It was the American tourists, he said, who began to buy them, to request even brighter colors, to call him “artist.”
This brought up an important question: Who determines what makes someone an artist?
Not two weeks later, we had another unexpected opportunity: a visit from Chief Oloruntoba of Nigeria. He too, was a skilled yarn painter, though he used silk string instead of yarn, and glue instead of beeswax. He was in his seventies also, appearing to be no more than fifty. He was full of warmth and laughed easily. He too was a spiritual leader, and his natural dyes were thought to benefit the health of the viewer. Our students attended his exhibition at WhiteSpace Gallery, which has since closed.
Hosting two string painters from lands on opposite sides of the world within a period of two weeks was wild serendipity! We were given these opportunities because of the relationships we had built locally, and we still enjoy building friendships. We have never met another string or yarn painter. Our students created some string paintings in art class after that. They were deceptively challenging. We had many conversations about what makes someone an artist.
Did You Know That...
Rhiannon Giddens, (winner of the MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius Award,” co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Grammy award winner,) was a visiting artist at ABS three times, back before her international success. She played the fiddle, taught us new songs, and called a full-school contra dance with 150 kids!
Tololwa Mollel, award-winning Tanzanian children’s book author, visited our school for a week in 2010. He shared stories with our students and helped us develop them into plays. The plays we helped him create are in use in various other schools around the country.
Photographer Daniella Zalcman, a Catchlight Fellow, multiple grantee of the National Geographic Society and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and a fellow with the International Women's Media Foundation, has visited our 8th graders three times over the past five years, to share her work and related stories?
LA FOMMA Mayan Women’s Theatre Cooperative from Chiapas, Mexico once visited our school to share stories about their culture, and about oppression in their community.
You are welcome to glance over our list of over 150 visiting and resident artists who have shared their ideas and work with our students, over the past 20 years. (These don’t even include the many artists who have donated their works to our fundraisers… that’s a story for another day.) We have missed some. Please email Mary Siebert, if you remember more!
ABS Board Passes Civility Policy
The Arts Based School’s civility policy is intended to maintain a safe, harassment-free environment for students, teachers, administrators, staff members, parents, and other members of the community. In the interest of presenting teachers and other employees as positive role models, the ABS board encourages positive communication and discourages volatile, hostile, threatening, profane, or aggressive communication or actions, as well as disorderly conduct.
In the same regard, parents and visitors are expected to treat teachers, students, volunteers, administrators, and other school employees with courtesy and respect. School employees who are faced with disorderly conduct or disruptive behavior have the right to end a meeting or telephone conversation, and/or remove the person from school grounds. School Principals may place limitations on access to school grounds of an individual who has violated the above expectation and may limit an individual’s future communications with school employees to one or more of the following: telephone calls, email, or written communications.
The full text of the Civility Policy is available on our website.
Scholastic Book Fair: Monday 10/18 - Friday 10/22- next week!
Look in today’s Thursday folders for the Scholastic Book Fair flyer and a letter with more information. Visit our Book Fair homepage to find all the Book Fair information in one place: shopping hours, volunteer sign-up, online shopping link, and eWallet creation.
Please also follow the ‘Arts Based School Group’ Facebook Group for more Book Fair tips.
In-person shopping: Monday 10/18- Friday 10/22
- Family shopping hours: 9am-3:30pm Mon-Fri
- Classes Preview Mon/Tues and shop Wed-Fri
- ABS earns 50% of sales for classroom/school libraries
- Pay with cash, credit, checks payable to ABS, and eWallet*- with no tax added
Online shopping: Monday 10/18- Sunday 10/31
- All orders ship home and book-only orders over $25 ship for free!
- ABS earns 25% of sales for classroom/school libraries
*Our Book Fair offers eWallet, a safe and secure alternative to cash. Simply create a free account to add funds and/or invite family and friends to contribute so your child can select their own books. Any unused funds can be spent at The Scholastic Store Online or to fund a future eWallet.
ABS Annual Giving!
There are only two weeks left in our 20th Anniversary Annual Giving campaign! We are truly grateful to everyone who has made a gift so far. Thank you!
Total School Participation to Date: 19%
Total Gifts to Date: $19,755
What does 19% mean? Families can certainly look many different ways and don’t always fit into a tidy data set… but we have approximately 360 families at ABS, and so far, 70 families are contributing to Annual Giving. We still have a long way to go!
Together, we can celebrate and support everything that we appreciate about this place and the people who care for our children day after day. Please participate if you are able. To make your gift, send a check or visit the giving page of our website. Thank you!
Parent Council Meeting
The Parent Council met last night via ZOOM. Here’s the recording in case you missed it! Save the date for next month’s meeting, Friday, Nov 12 at 8:30am.
Prospective Parent Tours
School tours for prospective parents are scheduled weekly on Thursdays at 9:30am. Each tour is limited to 10 adults in an effort to limit the disruption to our students and teachers in the classrooms. Parents interested in learning more about ABS and how to enroll their child should contact the front office to sign up for a tour: 748-4116 ext 1023. Applications will be accepted beginning January 1. The lottery will be held on the second Tuesday of February.
Love African Dance with Ms. Dawanna? Want it to keep going forever? Here’s your chance to make it last longer! African Dance Classes with Dawanna Benjamin, at UNCSA Acting Out