Presented by ArtsAlive! and Springfield City School District
What happens when a school district embraces art, storytelling, and film?
The Liyana Project is the phrase being used by educators in the Springfield City School District to describe the infusion of art and narrative inspired by the documentary film, Liyana. Educators and students at Springfield High School, Shaefer Middle School, and Kenwood Elementary School chose to work together, and independently, on projects ranging from collaborative stories, short films and masks this year. The artworks are on display at the Springfield Museum of Art until June 29, 2020.
The partnership between the schools and the museum is through Arts Alive, our local team of the Partners in Education program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Arts Alive focuses on training and supporting educators to integrate the arts with classroom curriculum. Arts Alive partners are: Clark State, Springfield Arts Council, Springfield City School District, Springfield Museum of Art, and Wittenberg University.
Guided by two licensed art therapists, Springfield City Schook District educators met at Wittenberg University in September 2019 and began brainstorming about infusing art into their classroom trauma-informed care practices. In the film Liyana , a storyteller leads children in the process of creating a collaborative narrative and artworks, then a professional animator brings the story to life. Mirroring this process, elementary English-Language Arts teachers led children in creating a collaborative story. The stories were edited by middle school students, honing skills in writing for the older students, then were forwarded to the visual and digital art teachers at the high school. High school students crafted storyboards and learned animation as they explored all the steps involved in turning a story into a short film.
The animation project kicked off with a residency from Shof Coker, the animator for Liyana . Coker spent a week sharing his skills and approach with students and teachers at the high school, a week that was a huge success. Nancy Tracey, Springfield High School art teacher, said “This is a great collaboration. We have kids from different classes working together, probably working with new people but sharing the project and feeling comfortable. These kids are inspired! One of my students went home last night and worked up all these sketches and came back this morning saying, ‘Hey, look at this idea I had!’ They are all so motivated and working together in new ways.”
A 12th grade student said “I love this project! I am really interested in art and animation so to have a chance to learn this, with Shof, is really great. I am loving every single second of this project.”
Joel Murphy, Visual Art, and Susan Tyner, Digital Media, reached out to the Music Department and students composed both sound effects and original scores for the short films. SHS teacher Joel Murphy summed up the project: “Shof worked with students from grades 9-12 on a collaborative District project, bringing narratives written by third graders to life. The Project incorporated an in-depth study of illustration and comic style storyboarding, as well as animation. Shof worked with students during class time all week as well as three hours after school each day in the computer lab, on the animation process. It has been amazing to see the dedication from the students.”
In addition to the multi-school projects, individual schools created their own tandem projects. School counselors and art teachers at Kenwood focused on empathy through work called: The Masks We Wear to Protect Ourselves. Students explored the idea of empathy and created artwork masks. Each class that wrote a collaborative narrative also worked with the art teacher to create illustrations and artworks to accompany the stories.
Submitting an Exhibition Proposal
The Springfield Museum of Art is pleased to accept applications for exhibiting work. Please complete the following information in full and Submit it. You will be contacted within 6 weeks of receivng your application.
For more information, contact Erin Shapiro at 937-325-4673.