There is an extraordinary artist teaching art to school children in grades K through eight at the Gordon Parks School for Inquisitive Minds in Rosedale, New York. Her name is Ida Owens. She has been teaching art at The Gordon Parks School since 2007, when she also started a tradition, which has become a mainstay for the school, the student body, and the community, The Annual Arts Gala.
Owens is an arts educator and visual artist with close to 30 years teaching experience. In 2007, Ms. Owens participated in the Queens Council on the Arts Project Diversity at Korea Village where she was an exhibiting artist and recipient of a Queens Council on the Arts grant. In 2010, Ms. Owens won the NYCATA UFT Art Educator of the Year Award, Middle School Division. She was the recipient of the Fulbright 2011 Award Seminars Abroad to India, as well as a Fulbright 2014 Award Seminars Abroad to China. Following her research in traditional Chinese and Indian art and dance customs combined with previous research in Africa, and the Caribbean, Ms. Owens has developed a highly recognized art curriculum.
For the Annual Arts Gala, the space outside of the school’s auditorium is transformed into Gallery 270Q Art Matters which has been and continues to be the focus of Gallery 270Q, which showcases the talents of the school’s students across all arts disciplines. The arts are a crucial and vital component in all of our lives and they are engaged in the rituals of our lives daily. At Gallery 270Q, art lives through the lens of the students. Each year the school also holds an artist in residence program that invites professional artists to teach art at the school, culminating in a performance at the Annual Art Gala.
PS/IS 270Q was fortunate to have Haitian-American Dancer and Choreographer Gelan Lambert as its artist in residence in dance this year. Lambert was the principal dancer and rhythm tap artist of the Tony Award winning musical “FELA!,” and choreographer of The Royal Shakespeare Company and The Public Theater’s “Antony & Cleopatra.” He also performs in the Lambert Dance Project. PS/IS 270Q was honored to feature a student dance piece choreographed by Lambert at this year’s Annual Art Gala.
The Annual Art Gala empowers youth and the community with the ability to use art as a vehicle for cultural and social awareness, expression, and as a platform for social change. Their mission is fueled by the belief that arts education develops critical thinkers and problem solvers, opening pathways for all to contribute creatively with positive solutions for the advancement of our world. The student population at PS/IS 270Q and local community consists of African Americans, families from the Caribbean, and a new emerging immigrant community of people from West Africa, Asia, and Latin America. There is too often a lack of resources for the arts within communities of people of color. The Annual Art Gala strives to provide students at PS/IS 270Q, families, and the community with an essential creative outlet as well as a valued and respected voice. The Annual Art Gala initiative focuses on transformative global education wherein respect for each other and the world is cultivated.
Owens’ students have won numerous top awards and honors partnering with the Morgan Library and Museum, for The Morgan’s book project: Illuminated Manuscripts. This program focuses on the integration of book arts into the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subject, as well as The New York City Department of Education Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts. Teachers lead their students in the writing, illustration, and binding of manuscript books. Owens’ students have won “The Special Award” for best book in 2011 and 2013. Her student’s books are now part of the museum’s permanent collection. The students of PS/IS 270Q are developing into talented storytellers and artists. Owens says, “It is our continuing effort to encourage our youth to share their voice with the world.”
Each year an artist is invited to become an artist in residence. Previous Artists in Residence have included Cameron McCarthy, a world renown visual artist, didgeridoo musician, dancer, Hip-Hop artist and Australian Aboriginal Ambassador of the United Nations, Javaka Steptoe an award-winning illustrator and recipient of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, as well as many other talented professionals within the art world.
Owens would like for her students to know that art matters and art is powerful. She says, “Meeting professional artists at this stage in their lives will have such an impact. Students will be able to experience what life is like as a professional artist, know that art is a viable career, and learn how they too can make art with purpose.”
Copyright: 2015 Ankhra House, Ltd.