Hudson’s first ever AIR, “Artists-in-Residence”, was a school-wide event recently held in Hudson’s gym. The event was organized by the high school Arts Club, including both staff and students. The idea came from a desire to further enhance arts education at the school in a way that the entire school could be actively involved in celebrating the importance of the arts, not just in school, but in society as a whole. The intent was to provide a forum where students, those with experience and skills in the arts and those without any background in the arts, could come together and express themselves through a variety of different media. Painting, music, dance, poetry, photography, and film were the focus of this year’s event.
Hudson’s gym was turned into a giant artist’s workshop. The walls were covered with large pieces of paper and paint stations were set up to encourage students to paint in a variety of different colours and forms. Mrs. Wendy Kopplin, the high school’s art teacher, gave students tips and strategies on creating different types of art including Pointillism and Pop Art, as students experimented with different forms and ideas. In the center of the gym a dance performance, led by Ms. Shannon’s student belly dance troupe, performed a variety of tribal belly dance routines, wearing beautiful costumes they had designed themselves, taken from Ms. Shannon’s vast costume collection. A microphone was also set up to create an “open mic”, where students could sing, read a poem, or tell a story for the entire room to hear. A variety of poems and literary works were also provided for students to read if they didn’t have work of their own.
Two weeks prior to the event the entire school was encouraged to begin submitting their art work, including poems, photographs, paintings, and sculpture, so it could be put on display or performed in the gym during AIR. On stage, a group of students performed music they had been practicing for weeks. A box filled with smaller instruments, including cymbals and drums, was also provided for any other students who wished to sit down and join the band. Projected on the wall throughout the event was a slide presentation of student-taken photographs and artwork. It’s important to emphasize that all these activities were going on at the same time.
While this event was taking place, each high school class was brought into the gym, one at a time, in order to witness and actively participate in this happening. Students were encouraged to pick up a paint brush, a musical instrument, take pictures, join in the dance performance, or read something into the live microphone, so each student could have an opportunity to become part of the creative process and part of the art itself.
A key purpose of this event was to allow for improvisation, and to create an “arts-friendly” space where students would be able to draw inspiration from each other to create and express themselves. It proved to be a great success, with students dancing and singing while they painted, watching the dance performances, the slide show, reading poems aloud, and taking photographs of each other. In order to document the creative chaos taking place, a group of students acted as a film crew, filming students and teachers while they participated, and interviewing the participants on why they believe the arts are an important part both of education, and a means of enriching our lives. Hudson’s staff and students proved that regardless of our cultural or artistic background, everyone can create in some form, and in the words of one philosopher, we all have the opportunity to “live our lives like a work of art”.