IN THE CLASSROOM: Connecting to our Students

News • Urban Gateways News

Urban Gateways teaching artists led two artist residencies this spring around the theme of connectivity. Below is a description of each residency, as well as links to view the artwork.

These residencies resulted in student artwork that Urban Gateways featured and auctioned off at ArtsWired 2010, our annual interactive benefit on June 22.The student artists were paid a stipend for their work and invited to the event to connect with our guests and share their artwork.


At Finkl Elementary School, Urban Gateways teaching artist Nikki Zaleski worked with seventh and eighth grade students on a month-long residency focused on CONNECTING TO YOUR STRENGTHS.

The intention of the residency was to look at students as experts of their own experiences and to understand that each student has valuable skills and ideas to share, said Zaleski.

The students began by exploring what they knew and then choosing a subject of which they were experts. Next, they were asked to teach others what they knew about their expertise through photography and poetry. Using only their cell phones, students took photos and wrote text message poetry that corresponded to their expertise.

These photos were printed. Then local artist Andrew Brant silk-screened the corresponding poetry on top of each photo; and they were framed for the ArtsWired 2010 auction. The students also recorded their poetry, and Artswired 2010 guests were able to listen to the recordings inside an audio booth that night.

Watch a slideshow of the students’ cellphone photos>>


At the Multicultural Arts High School, Urban Gateways teaching artist Jesse Avina worked with high school students on a month-long residency focused on CONNECTING TO YOUR FUTURE.

In this residency, the students were asked what goals they have and how they can be achieved. Rather than asking what he or she wants to be, we focused on what it will take to get there, said Avina.

The students began by listing out job-related or serious goals, as well as absurd/fantasy goals, and then outlining the 5 steps it would take to achieve those goals.

Next the students selected one goal and created brief descriptions and sketches that illustrated each step toward achieving that goal. Finally, using magazines, paints, pencils and fabric, the students created a collage for each step.

The collages were scanned and assembled to create an image of their steps leading downward to their goal. These digital compositions were printed out and framed for the ArtsWired 2010 auction.