Film screening on Immigration and Citizenship

On Friday night, 65 students made the walk through the cold to come to the sound stage. Idyllwild Arts was one of the hosting locations for the international release of a film by French street artist J.R. The short film called “Ellis” starred Robert De Niro. It was an avant-garde artistic expression that highlighted the experience of migrating to America through Ellis Island. A short discussion where discussion followed our students, half of whom are international, shared their experiences of crossing borders. This was used as a segue to talk about modern immigration issues and how artists can play a role in social justice.

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The second film shown was “Migration is Beautiful,” a short documentary by Favianna Rodriguez about the role of art activism in the current immigrant rights movement. This resonated with many of our students, some of whom were shocked at the harsh consequences and racist roots of immigration laws. There was a tangible sense of empowerment and collective imperative to use art for good.

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This event is the first in a series of events around the theme of Immigration and Citizenship. In February, we will have an entire day dedicated to the topic. Seven artist-activists representing each artistic discipline will come to work with our students. Ideas and input from faculty and students are welcome.

Thanks to Jana Baker in the library for hooking us up with J.R.’s film. Thanks to Paul Taglianetti to putting in the late hours to run the sound stage for us. Thanks to Jenny Kirchner, Quinn Benson, and Mike Fan for pictures. Thanks to dorm parents Sabrina Bowles and Andrew Leeson for making it possible.

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Idyllwild Arts joins the Palm Springs Pride Parade

For the first time, Idyllwild Arts students marched in the Palm Springs Pride Parade. Over 120,000 people lined Palm Canyon Drive as our students cheered and waved, occasionally chanting our academy mantra, “Remember who you are… and what you stand for!” The Idyllwild Arts Gender-Sexuality Alliance was one of twenty LGBTQ++ high school clubs represented. The Palm Springs Pride Parade has the largest youth participation of any Pride event in the country. Following the parade, our students enjoyed themselves at the Pride festival and the specially-designed “Youth Zone.” This made for a fantastic end to a week of activities and events centered around gender roles and sexuality identity issues.

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SPOTLIGHT ON IDYLLWILD ARTS: Fashion project to “Dress a Girl Around the World”

Made in China. Made in the Dominican Republic. Made in Bangladesh. The labels on our clothing don’t do justice to the amount of resources and time devoted to the creation of the products we wear. Massively complex supply chains can alienate us from the very human process of design and creation. Chinlee Chang’s latest project in her fashion classes provided the students the opportunity to make a very personal connection in the process of apparel creation.

Dress a Girl Around the World is an international nonprofit organization that has given over 300,000 girls in 81 countries dresses since its inception in 2009. Groups of volunteers throughout the United States individually sew dresses which are given to young girls abroad to empower them. Through the Mountain Quilters of Idyllwild, Chinlee met Dawn Miller, the local organizer for Dress a Girl. After being introduced to the idea, Chinlee knew it would make an excellent project for the Idyllwild students.

“It really is win-win for everybody.” Chinlee explained that having Idyllwild Arts students design dresses for the organization not only makes the world a better place, but is also a tremendous learning experience. Children’s wear provides unique opportunities to practice technical skills. Also, working in fashion requires holding multiple perspectives; students can often get stuck in on particular way of viewing themselves relative to their creation. “This is a really good project to shake them out of the ‘self’ mode and make something beautiful for someone else.”

IMG_0239 1Dawn Miller and the Mountain Quilters supplied packages with just enough fabric to make each dress. The students made two dresses, one with the pre-selected fabric and one of their own choosing. “They were pretty surprised by the process,” Chinlee said of the students. The pre-selected packages challenged students to work with fabrics and colors that they would not usually choose, while the dress of their own design allowed them to explore new creative possibilities, especially since they have never tried children’s clothing before. “After they finished, they realized this was a present for someone else, and that seemed to be very satisfying to them… they were touched by it.”

Helena Yi, a junior fashion major, found the project very meaningful. “I really liked the project because we were using arts to help someone else, it was more than learning.” Helena designed a kimono-style dress. She said that students in the class felt it was important to make sure that each dress was unique so that every girl could have their own special design. “You’re thinking about the girl, you’re doing it for the girl… It makes me put more attention on the dress because I’m doing it for someone, it’s not just practice.”

IMG_0247 1The dresses were on display in the IA Hall. They have been taken down, packed up, and distributed to young girls abroad.

Chinlee Chang and the students of her intermediate and advanced fashion classes considered the project a success in every way. “I plan to do this again next year for the fashion students!”

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A Talk on Gender Expression and Performance

On Sunday evening, thirty-five students and four faculty members gathered in the Fireside Room for a discussion about Gender Expression and Performance, led by Zac Hewitt. Not only is Zac a college counselor, dorm parent, and advisor to the school’s Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) club, but he is widely experienced in gender roles and we were fortunate to have him speak to our Art in Society group. After introducing the basics of social construction of gender, the group of students passionately discussed gender roles in our society. Zac talked about how the performing arts are used to explore ideas of gender. The fruitful discussion will enhance the already dynamic conversations of the GSA and Women’s Empowerment clubs on campus.

This is the first event in a week of gender and sexuality related activities; this Friday will be a movie screening and Sunday our students will be participating in the Palm Springs Pride Parade.

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Taking leadership at smARTS

Nearly every Friday our students visit the local elementary school and teach art classes. For the first time this year, five of our veteran smARTS volunteers taught their own lessons! Lincoln Belford, Katie Hahka, and Chelsea Sik took nearly forty kids and played acting games outside in the field. Katie Berger and Mack Shapiro taught the kids to sing and dance to “It’s a Hard Knock Life” from Annie, while also using the opportunity to educate the kids about the Great Depression and social issues.

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