Identity Project, Rites of Passage, Bullying Residency,
Wearable Arts Program, Multidisciplinary, Conflict Resolution
The Artists' Collective for Social Change specializes in developing arts programming for disenfranchised populations. The ACSC team of artists have implemented innovative arts programming for such organizations as Children's
Aid and Family Services (New Jersey); Morris County Department of Human
Services (New Jersey); The Wynona M. Lipman Education and Training
Center (Newark, NJ); The Westlake School (Westlake, New Jersey); VSA
Arts of New Jersey; and Arts Horizons (Englewood, New Jersey).
Through these programs, clients,
artists, and staff employ the arts as a tool to address tolerance and
diversity to aid the clients in developing positive relationships with
adults and peers. Each program is designed to encourage self-esteem and
a sense of accomplishment by completing a task from beginning to end
which includes a final presentation. Through a focus on group
cooperation, residents develop a positive, appropriate relationship
with the artist and each other, improving their sense of self. Artists
present professional development workshops to the staff to clarify the
intention of the residency and enhance child care skills.
I am the thought in the back of your head
I am the muscle that helps you get out of bed
I am the leaf still growing on the tree
I am the heaven waiting for thee
I am the control, which stops your bursts
I am the drink that quenches your thirst
I am the star that helps you find your way
I am the spirit that keeps you alive every day
I am the popularity that makes you known
I am a person who is on his own
(student at Lipman Hall
Arthur Wilson ACSC teaching artist)
Children at Path Homes of NJ are working with ACSC artists Leslie Strongwater and Mark Levine for their second year. The mural project is a continuation of the Identity project funded by the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation. These workshops include a combination visual art and drama exercises.
Photo: Leslie Strongwater
We are now in our third year of
collaboration with the Morris County Youth Shelter made possible by a
grant from the Morris County Department of Human and Social Services. ACSC
artists and administration have formed a strong bond with
administration and staff of the shelter forming positive recipricol
relationships with the shelter residents through modeling and team
teaching. The residents have created a mural, written a play, composed
percussion pieces, and worked on monologues and theater presentations
of their work. Currently they are writing poems and doing illustrations
that will be bound into a book. They also are learning how to use the
computer and video cameras to edit and create commercials. In addition
they are developing a presentation surrounding their poetry and art
work. ACSC conducts
professional development workshops so that the staff can understand the
process the residents are asked to go through and provide them with
creative/artistic solutions for child care. All participating
individuals involved are enjoying a fruitful relationship and are
looking forward to continuing our collaboration for years to come.
The Artists’ Collective for Social Change (ACSC)
completed a first-year pilot program in two Path group homes of New
Jersey with funds from the Matisse Foundation. The PATH homes located
in Paramus and Ridgewood, New Jersey are for children ages 6-12 years
who are up for adoption. One is for girls and one for
boys. They have to live in a therapeutic group home for a period of
time to learn how to trust and accept adults before they can be placed
in a family. Under the direction of a theater artist and a puppeteer,
the project titled Identity combined drama, writing, and mask-making. Identity was begun in February of 2007 and completed in April 2007. Fourteen students were served - seven boys and seven girls.
Rodney Gilbert created and implemented a Rites of Passage program based on African traditions. The workshop gives young men of all color the "permission" to enter into manhood with responsibility. The workshop joined two African-American male artists, Rodney Gilbert and Ron McBee to teach at Children's Haven group home for adolescent boys for Children's Aid and Family Services. The
workshop culminated in the late winter of 2006 with a dramatic and
musical presentation in which the boys expressed what they learned and
what they vowed to continue in the future.
Ted Sod implemented a Bullying Residency at Children's Aid and Family Services Eastlea
group home for adolescent girls. His workshop helped students
understand and self-govern psychological and physical bullying behavior
as they learn to identify, analyze, and respond from three points of
view: bully, victim, and bystander. The project culminated in a book of
essays that were honest, thoughtful and intense.
The Wearable Arts Program continued this year (see 2004/2005) with Misha McGlown, Xenobia Bailey and Monique Martin. The program was implemented at Woodlea group home for adolescent girls under the auspices of Children's Aid and Family Services.
We added a new component of retailing and marketing to the design
program. This taught the participants the business side of the arts and
what it entails. The original items they created were sold at a local
shop on consignment with the proceeds returning directly to the
This was the first year that ACSC offered crafts. The female residents of Eastlea group home worked with a jewelry designer, fashion designer and fiber artist ( Misha McGlown, Xenobia Bailey and Monique Martin).
They made patterns, designed and sewed their own clothes, crafted
sculptured jewelry and crocheted intricate patterns on purses and hats.
The culminating event showed all their handiwork.
Playwright/actor/directors Rodney Gilbert and Ted Sod conducted a Multidisciplinary Residency at Woodlea group home where Catlin Cobb offered two movement workshop workshops. Anika Adilifu worked with the residents to document the process and created a DVD.
Playwright/actor/director Mark Levine implemented an age appropriate Conflict Resolution Program through Drama in the spring at PATH I and PATH II.
An assembly with Seventh Principle, Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn, and Ron McBee was presented at the 8th annual Children's Aid and Family Services motivational awards dinner, October 8, 2003. During 2004 ACSC administered and implemented the Odyssey Therapeutic Arts Program for Children's Aid and Family Services. Vince Ector and Ron McBee each conducted percussion residencies at PATH I and PATH II group homes. Dominique Cieri led a twelve week multidisciplinary theater residency at Eastlea group Home in Bogota, NJ. joined by Catlin Cobb. Students participated in writing and movement workshops culminating with a presentation of their poems. Alysia Souder led a twelve week theater residency at the Woodlea and Children's Haven group homes. She was joined by actor Rodney Gilbert and percussionist Ron McBee. Alexis Marnel and Ron McBee worked extensively with the students of the Westlake School.
The students, who are all classified as multiply handicapped, created
their own dance and percussion segments, made their own instruments,
and explored literacy through movement and music.
The Wynona M. Lipman Education and Training Center is a residential treatment center in Newark, New Jersey for boys ages 12-21. Lipman Hall continues
to investigate diversity through the arts in order to engage their
residents in developing positive relationships with adults and peers. ACSC
artists worked with residents June 2002 through April 2004 in an
innovative approach that combined the arts and treatment. In the fall
of 2003, book artist Miriam Schaer, conducted a five week intensive
workshop as a guest artist with assistant, actor Andre Fortson. The
theme, Life Books, was based on a concept that all children in foster
care should have a catalog of their life, where they have lived,
milestones, memories, etc. The boys included their most significant
mental snapshots through pictures, words, and photographs. In January
of 2004, Ron McBee conducted a workshop where the boys composed and recorded original percussion.
During this residency the residents also had a chance to make their own mbiras with musician Kevin Nathaniel. Lipman Hall
enjoyed performances by the Taiko Drummers of Japan, Rennie Harris Pure
Movement, and an assembly of Irish Music by Mary Knysh. Residents also
participated in African Dance and drumming residencies, mask-making,
and produced their own short film or "cine-poem." Each residency
culminated in a final showing or performance. In addition, guest
artists were contracted by ACSC
to conduct assemblies in Native American Storytelling, a Holocaust
play, African Dance, Cartooning, and Classical Music Appreciation.
Guest company performances included street-dance performance company
Fly Dance, The New Jersey Shakespeare Theatre's Next Stage Touring
Company presentation of Love's Labours Lost, and a performance of Randy
James Dance Works "The View" based on the events of 9/11.