With our students’ final exhibits starting to take place as the semester winds down, we’re excited to tell you a little more about two of our program tracks: Fine Arts/Haiti & Photography/Haiti!
The structure of the CMH Global Arts After School curriculum is designed to be a 10-week program in a selected art track. Each track guides students in sharpening and developing skills in three areas of learning: Cultural, Social, and Artistic. For both the Fine Arts and Photography tracks the country of focus is Haiti. How do we incorporate arts learning with cultural and social skills? Read on…
In the Fine Arts program, youth have been exploring the culture of Haiti by learning about various indigenous artists and art forms and the role Haitian artists have played in teaching the world about Haiti and its people through artistic tradition. In the Photography track, the concept of photojournalism is explored in relation to natural disasters like the 2010 earthquake in Haiti - namely, how photography and photojournalism can bring awareness to and inspire empathy toward people in need by documenting their lives and struggles.
Learning about the culture of Haiti and the struggles it has faced for many generations is a great way to introduce students to the social concept of Global Citizenship, which means caring about people all over the world, regardless of race, religion, nationality, or any other differences. These lessons are then applied directly to Haiti. Students are taught about Haiti’s history and encouraged to identify ways it is similar to ours here in the United States. They are also taught about children their age in Haiti and the ways they must be creative to entertain themselves because they don’t have very much money. In learning about Haiti and its citizens and culture, students are a step closer to understanding how similar we all are and developing vital skills of empathy and global citizenry.
Students are also taught interpersonal social skills over the course of the programs. This includes lessons on being a good listener, positive communication skills and conflict resolution. Teaching empathy on this personal level helps students apply the sensitivity they would offer their friend or relative to children just like them who are far away in Haiti.
The culmination of these lessons in Haitian culture and empathy is the students’ creation of a project of their own - in the Fine Arts program, for example, students are taught that Haitian children are very good at using their creativity, imaginations and ingenuity to make their own toys, because they don’t have money to buy new ones. They are then shown how to make toy cars out of plastic bottles. Students are also taught about Papier Mache masks made by Haitians for the yearly celebration Carnival, and then make their own! In the Photography track, students are taught the basics of photography, including perspective and point of view, lighting and framing, and how these things are used by photojournalists to draw attention and aid to countries in need. Students are shown examples of interesting and emotionally effective photographs and then encouraged to take fascinating photos of their own lives!
For both the Fine Arts and Photography tracks, students have learned about the 2010 Haitian earthquake and the effect on the population (including children just like them), and have been encouraged to remember that when we see disasters like this in the world, it is our responsibility as good Global Citizens to do what we can to help. The students, through hands-on exploration of different mediums, have learned about the connection between social hardship and artistic expression and how art can be used as a tool for political expression.
Stay tuned for more updates as final exhibits are in progress and we will share recaps of all the amazing work the students have created this semester!