Taking Miles Davis Elementary students on a field trip out-of-country wasn’t exactly an option, but teaching artists for this summer 2015 program managed to create an international experience without leaving the city limits. The West Englewood school hosted four Urban Gateways teaching artists during the summer to instruct K-8th grade students: Aquil Charlton (visual art), Yolanda Pittman (dance), Ashley Winston (theater), and Kimberly Mahal-Laude (vocal music). These artists chose to focus on the theme of the Caribbean Carnival festival across disciplines, since many Miles Davis students have family roots in the region.
The pinnacle of this multidisciplinary residency program was a field trip to Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, a Puerto Rican arts and culture center in Logan Square. There, the cultural and artistic connections that students had been building all summer came to life with hand-drum and mask-making workshops inspired by Carnival music, characters, and festivities.
Stepping out of their comfort zones and into new art forms inspired these students in novel ways. An Urban Gateways Program Associate said that “One student who never smiles – he was smiling the whole time.”
Photos by Kiara Sinclair and Omar Torres-Kortright.