The Integrated Arts and Academics (IAA) program provides numerous opportunities to work with professionals in artistic fields. Most recently, musician Emily Aldridge has come in for a residency; that residency began Tuesday, December 4th.
In IAA, artist residencies provide an opportunity for students to experience new art forms and gain new information from professionals in artistic fields. As Mrs. Gina Mariotti Shapard, the program leader for IAA states: “I hope that [the students] learn about what it’s like to be in that world by hearing about the career and personal life of each artist… [and] if they already have some skills, I hope they learn something like a masterclass; where you get to experience a different artist other than the teacher that you have most of the time… And if they’re new to the art form, maybe they’ll discover that, hey, it wasn’t as scary as I thought, and they might want to take a class… So it’s to peak their interest– if they haven’t had it in the past– to learn about how the different art forms have things in common with each other, and, at the very least, help them be a good audience member in the future, because they might understand the art form better.” Amanda Hutchens, a Freshman in IAA echoes part of this, stating the importance of having professional connections in IAA is “being able to collaborate with people who know more about a given art form and being able to learn from them.”
In regards to the current residency with Emily Aldridge, students are exploring music. The residency is still just getting started, and there are around 30 students of varied musical (or non-musical) backgrounds. That fact provides an interesting challenge for any instructor. According to Mariotti: “There’s a lot of different experience levels… Emily has given me a bunch of ideas, but I’m not sure which she’s going to do– and I think that’s because she wanted to meet everybody, and kind of see where they’re at in their experience, and what they want to do, and she’s going to tailor it to them…” Since Tuesday was the first and only session with Emily thus far, it is still unknown what sort of projects students will create by the end.
Last year’s residencies were with Actor/Director Heather Kahl and Dancer/Director Josh Murry-Hawkins. These were incorporated with various other classes, such as English, where students could re-enact and modify Romeo and Juliet scenes. This year, however, things have switched up a bit. While freshmen are still required to work with artist residents, it is during a separate time to core studio (the common work time for cross-grade-level IAA projects). During core studio, students who sign up for the residencies work with the residents. Others in their grade level work on projects of their own. On this topic Mariotti states: “Before, the ninth and tenth graders all had to take the residency whether they wanted to or not, and now the ninth graders still have to explore all the different art forms with the residency.. but the artists get to work in Core [Core Studio] with the students who chose to be there– which is very different, and probably more rewarding to them.”
With the recent move to the annex, the changes that entailed carry over to the residencies. On this topic Mrs. Mariotti mentions: “Moving to the annex has been a huge benefit to us because now grades 9-12 can all be in residency together; before, the cohorts didn’t have an opportunity to interact with each other, but now they can be in a residency together, which is really cool– like for acting, you see 9-12 students– they’re all in IAA, but they may not know each other very well, but they got to know each other. So there’s a common space and time we haven’t had before.” Such as with the recent acting residency, students got to know each-other through performances about their assigned partners, regardless of what cohort (grade level) they were in.
Funding for these residencies has come from a few sources. For the first four years of the program a $10,000 grant came from the Camas Education Foundation. Now funding comes entirely from the program fee (which is new this year) and Friends of Camas Arts (FOCA). The goal in the future would be to get more residents from more art forms visiting the program, however, right now it’s limited based on money.
These guest artists provide a unique opportunity for IAA students, allowing them to explore and learn about art forms that interest them– from people who know a lot about them. In the future, hopefully, there will be even more opportunities for students to experience these residencies, from an even more diverse catalog of art forms.