2009 News

Finding Voice Project

I continued working with refugee and immigrant students in ESL classes with teacher Julie Kasper at Catalina Magnet High School. This school year we are working with two classes of excited students exploring and sharing their voices around the theme of “Building a Stronger Community.” The students are producing digital stories and other pieces about issues ranging from discrimination to changing ESL policies in Arizona. They will share their work at a community presentation at 6:30pm on May 14th at Catalina Magnet High School. From October 16-November 13, 2009 we exhibited student work from the past three years of the Finding Voice Project at the Union Gallery in the Student Union of the University of Arizona. The photograph on this page is one of many student images we exhibited. To see additional photos and learn more about the Finding Voice Project visit: www.findingvoiceproject.org. In connection with the exhibit, I joined a panel of local art organizations and art educators to discuss “Voice & Identity – Issues of Representation in Visual and Literary Art.”

Southeastern AZ Arts in Academics Artist Residencies
From October 2009-March 2010 I was working as a teaching artist through the Southeastern Arizona Arts in Academics (SAAA) Program. SAAA focuses on providing arts opportunities to elementary, middle school and high school students in rural southeastern Arizona. Over a five month period I co-facilitated photography and visual storytelling workshops on the San Carlos Apache, Pascua Yaqui and Tohono O’odham Reservations with drama teacher Alida Wilson Gunn of Borderlands Theater.  The words and images produced by the youth throughout the project were incorporated into a theater performance in March 2010. I also worked with writer Kimi Eisele and we facilitated a community arts workshop at Mt. Turnbull Academy with high school students on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. Students interviewed and made portraits of each other and then did the same with community leaders and elders. Excerpts from the interviews and portraits were then turned into large posters that have been touring the San Carlos Apache Reservation.

Arizona Teaching Artist Award
In December 2009 I was notified by the Arizona Commission on the Arts that a national arts panel awarded me the inaugural Arizona Teaching Artist Award for “outstanding achievements, innovation and leadership in the field of arts learning.” The award was given in recognition of my work with the Finding Voice Project in Tucson. I am truly honored and humbled by the award and am excited to apply the award monies to a variety of community art projects that have been marinating in my mind.

Literacy Extravaganza Conference, University of Arizona College of Education
On November 14 my colleague Julie Kasper and I presented at the annual Literacy Extravaganza Conference for middle and high school teachers in the Tucson region. It is an opportunity to highlight instructional practices in all disciplines that support literacy learning. Julie and I offered a two hour workshop entitled: Visual Arts & Literacy: The Finding Voice Project.

University of Arizona’s African Student Association Banquet
On November 14 I gave a presentation on “Creating Social Change Through Community-Based Storytelling” at the annual banquet dinner of the African Student Association at the University of Arizona. This year’s banquet was dedicated to paying tribute to the children of Africa and their voices .