From Binford to Brazil: University of Richmond program puts integrated learning to the test internationally

University of Richmond’s Partners in the Arts (PIA) program is expanding to an international audience this month.

Rob McAdams, interim director of PIA, will take the same arts integration model and teacher-training methods that twenty teachers from Binford Middle School in Richmond received during the summer to sixth and ninth-grade educators and students in Braco do Norte, Brazil.

“How we learn is universal and timeless,” said McAdams, who will travel to Brazil Oct. 11-25. “I believe the differences in language and cultures will actually enhance an integrated learning process.”

“Arts integration allows educators to discover how their students are curious and develop ways to differentiate their instruction to reach each student where and how they are as a learner,” he added.

This opportunity to work with teachers, artists and students in Brazil is funded by a travel grant provided by the U.S. State Department through Partners for the Americas Virginia-Santa Catarina chapter.

The PIA program is offered through Richmond’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies and provides arts integration training and project support to local teachers. Arts integration involves working with PreK-12 educators to engage and empower them with the tools to reach students by utilizing creativity in the classroom.


Meet Erin Thomas-Foley:

Erin Thomas-Foley has more than a decade of experience with SPARC as a teaching artist, program manager, and currently Director of Education. She is among Richmond’s leading acting talents and has performed at the Barksdale Theatre, Theatre IV, and the Firehouse Theatre Project as well as internationally. She has a B.F.A. from Longwood University and a M.F.A. in Theatre Pedagogy from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is Actor’s Equity Eligible and a member of the Screen Actors Guild.

Music, dance, and painting all on one stage work together to create a unique, multi-disciplinary, inclusive educational program. Erin Thomas-Foley’s workshop, LIVE ART, is building relationships among arts organizations, educators and artists to expand arts opportunities for students with developmental disabilities and typically developing students alike. LIVE ART is at the leading edge of arts education, integrating performing arts curricula with special education to create a major performance event.

Meet Kristen Jamison:

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Kristen R. Jamison, M.T., Ph.D., is an applied developmental scientist specializing in relationship-based strategies for improving learning capacity and behavior. Dr. Jamison is a Governor-appointed member of the Virginia interagency Coordinating Council and has been invited to speak across Virginia as an early childhood social & emotional development expert. She is currently the Educational Director and Founder of The Loop Center for Social & Emotional Development and a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Richmond in the Department of Psychology.
“The human brain cannot learn if it does not feel safe. By unlocking the brain through community, safety, and trust, with the support of the arts, we can leverage day-to-day interactions and improve learning outcomes.”

Meet Rob Levit:

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Rob Levit, an acclaimed musician and educator, has created award-winning innovative “Life-Skills through the Arts” programs for hundreds of at-risk youth and adults. He is currently Executive Director of Creating Communities and was the first Artist-In-Residence at Hospice of the Chesapeake, where he created and infused healing activities for the well-being of staff, families, and patients. Rob is a 2013 Innovator of the Year from the Maryland Daily Record, 2012 Mentor of the Year for Anne Arundel County and 2011 recipient of the Martin Luther King Peacemaker Award.

While it is not difficult to create arts activities that will excite both student and teacher, educators need to model the creative behavior that is expected from our students. [Rob Levit] will guide participants in developing a creative/artistic toolkit that will allow educators in any domain to identify opportunities for success for students who may otherwise be labeled behavior problems or a non-participants. In this interactive workshop, participants will use various entry points into creating art and engage with feedback protocols drawn from the arts.

Meet Samson Trinh:

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Composer, educator, musical director, producer, saxophonist, and ukuleleist, Samson Trinh was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. He attended Virginia Commonwealth University earning his Bachelor’s of Music in Jazz Studies. Samson’s composition work spans from studio productions at In Your Ear Recording to commissioned pieces for the Richmond Symphony. As a certified music educator in Virginia, Samson taught at K-12 public schools in Henrico County and Caroline County.

Recently featured in USA Today, Trihn’s workshop Uke ‘n’ Roll utilizes a broad range of musical genres, from the blues to The Beatles, to bring context to curriculum and interactively engage students. The workshop offers a platform for teaching basic concepts of rhythm, time, improvisation and perhaps, most importantly, student self-confidence.

Meet Benjamin Thorp:

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Benjamin Thorp is an environmental artist who works with sound to give form to a variety of media including sculpture, video, and installation. Much of his recent work has been public and site specific installations that engage audiences in sensory experiences that further appreciation and challenge people’s understanding of their surroundings. His work has been shown in large-scale public spaces in Hong Kong and Italy, as well as in museums and galleries in the United States and Europe. Benjamin lives and works in Richmond, Virginia, as a sound designer/engineer and curator. He is currently working on projects to transform the public sphere through interventions in art, education, and other social forms.

Benjamin Thorp will be teaching a workshop exploring the intersection of sound art and social practice through an auditory exploration of the contemporary urban environment as well as examining the ways sound has shaped our understanding of the past. Through reflective listening participants will unpack examples from history and explore the contexts that have shaped our understanding of social and cultural issues. Participants will take part in listening exercises and discussions that explore how audio furthers our understanding of culture, history and self. We will look at projects, tools and methods that encourage playful re-imagining of material, and how sonic experiments in the classroom can provide access to the overlooked narrative of sound. This workshop creates an environment where concept and technique are viewed as parts of a whole and will stimulate ideas and templates for newcomers as well as those who have had previous experience with sound as an artistic medium.

Meet Mason Mills:

Mason Mills is the Digital Arts Manager for the Genworth Brightlights Education Center at Richmond CenterStage. He oversees the Digital Arts Learning Center, produces and directs video components, and is the instructor for video production courses. As a public broadcasting producer and director he produced many locally and nationally distributed programs. Mason has won national recognition over his twenty years of broadcast experience by earning Emmy, Telly, and Communicator awards. He also is an adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he teaches video editing for the Sculpture and Extended Media department.

Mason will be teaching a workshop at the Joan Oates Institute on the basics of recording, editing, and exporting a video podcast for use in the classroom. Workshop participants will use video and photos collected during the workshop as well as online resources to create a podcast based on their chosen discipline or theme, or come with sample research prompts already used in the classroom. This workshop may be particularly useful for teachers who often assign research and presentation projects in the classroom.

Meet Mark Strandquist:

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Mark Strandquist is a multi-media artist and curator currently based in Richmond, Virginia. Using a variety of media he strives to create work that incorporates viewers as direct participants, features histories that are typically distorted or ignored, and blurs the boundary between artistic practice and social engagement. Mark’s work has been featured in various film festivals and independent galleries as well as the recent exhibit at the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington, DC. His ongoing project, The People’s Library, is on permanent display at the Main Branch of the Richmond Public Library.

This summer Mark will be teaching a workshop for the Joan Oates Institute entitled When Our Stories Become Present. Students’ own histories can be a medium for empowerment, cross-cultural exchange, and public collaboration. In this workshop, participants will experience how to help their students tell their personal histories. Using a variety of media, including photography, sculpture, and installation, participants will create their own multidimensional personal histories.

Meet Aijung Kim:

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Aijung Kim is an artist, printmaker, and writer who is fascinated by the intersection of visual art and language. She grew up in Rochester, NY and received her BFA in Fine Art/Printmaking at Pratt Institute in 2004. Aijung moved to Richmond in 2009, where she teaches youth and adults at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond, the VMFA Studio School, Studio Two Three, Westminster Canterbury, and the public libraries. She exhibits and sells her art online, at craft fairs and in stores and galleries across the country.

We are delighted to welcome Aijung Kim as the instructor for the Joan Oates Institute’s  Handmade Zines and Books workshop.  We can hardly wait to see what she has in store for us, in terms of teaching through the hands-on creation of zines and books.

Meet Brooke Inman:

Brooke Inman

Born in 1983, Brooke Inman grew up in the small town of DeMotte, Indiana. Brooke is a nature enthusiast who loves animals, especially her cat (Ellie). She is currently adjunct faculty at University of Richmond in the Department of Art + Art History, and at Virginia Commonwealth University in the Painting + Printmaking Department. She also teaches in the Richmond community at Studio Two Three and the Visual Arts Center. Specializing in Intaglio, Screen Print, Zine-making, Drawing, and Color, Brooke received her BFA in Printmaking from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2006, and her MFA in Painting + Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008.

Artist Sense:
“My work develops from the desire to connect with others, the importance of being honest, and compassion. Through persistent questioning of the self, the work is constructed out of rudimentary writing and drawing, traditional printmaking techniques, collecting, and installation. I embrace printmaking’s history of calling people to political action, and its ability to disseminate information by utilizing the multiple. As one experiment in the studio leads to another, the work becomes all of the energy that went into creating. Constructed with a do it yourself attitude, reflective and immediate drawing done on paper with humble materials collapses the challenges of high art into an everyday personal experience. By choosing to use familiar materials, and have the process be transparent, the viewer may feel connected to something larger than themselves.

Through obsessive organization, heightened awareness of detail, and close observation the work lifts one out of the habitual everyday world. Issues, such as the desire for personal connection, fear of loneliness, longing for perfection, and the health of our planet, are balanced between the naiveté of appearance and complexity of concept. Including private thoughts (the personal) with larger questions about humanity (the public) and the health of our planet (the natural), the work reflects my pursuit of understanding. The monotony of these banal understandings and weaknesses becomes a mirror for the viewer. It is this loss of consciousness that makes it unclear whether the presence of emotion is the artist’s, the subject’s, or your own.

Wilderness backpacking has allowed me to realign what is necessity: sustainability, the health of our planet, clean water, and fresh locally grown food. Gardening and fishing have proven valuable in respecting where our food comes from. In our culture, it is difficult to avoid convenience or disposable packaging and the many products that have been imported. I strive to be connected to the natural world, and conscientious of the resources I consume.

Focusing on the disconnection many Americans have with the natural world, I examine and reflect the interaction between perceptions and reality. This introspective examination crafts a complex vision filled with universal anxieties, hopes, fears, and yearnings. The work documents an individual’s journey to get closer to something outside of oneself. There is an open invitation for everyone to be included in this pursuit. The content of the work is often reflective of self-doubt and vulnerability. Woven with conviction, it captures the feelings of being lost, defeated, maladjusted, open, and idealistic; while recognizing the desire for connection, love, and affirmation.”