Artist-in-Residence Site:  Benton-Stearns Voyagers
324 3rd Ave. S., Sauk Rapids (Con. Dist. 6)

Collaborating Teacher: Patty Zimmerman
Teaching Artist: Papa Diop
Art form: Drumming/Dancing

Project Overview
During the residency students were introduced to Senegal, Djembe drumming and West African dancing. Papa shared his cultural experience and an encouraging story about his recovery and how art is important in the development of everyone. Students worked collaboratively with peers, staff and the artist to discover how to play the Djembe, learn traditional songs and dances. By encouraging students to explore movement and sound in an intimate, hands-on manner, they had an opportunity to learn a unique genre of music and dance, which promotes cultural awareness. Students had the opportunity to perform for the school and community on the last day of the residency. View a news article and video:

Project Highlights

“Since we are a small special education site our students’ only chance to experience music lessons is through a program like VSA Minnesota. While this is not a long term experience, the mere chance to participate in a residency program is an incredible opportunity for our students! It was a joy to see how he interacted with students and the rapport that developed between them. He was patient, offered feedback in a positive and nurturing manner, and talked to the students about his life journey and pointed out that they, too, have ‘bumps in the road’ but to persevere. Papa most definitely enhanced the feelings of self-worth in our students. This residency was the topic of conversation between staff and students all week long and for several days into the next week.” – Patty Zimmerman, Teacher

Artist-in-Residence Site:  Ely Memorial High School
600 E Harvey St., Ely (Con. Dist. 8)

Collaborating Teacher:  Amanda Solum
Teaching Artist:  Nicole Selmer
Art form:  Visual Arts

Project Overview
Students from the high school worked alongside with students from the elementary during this residency. They learned the history, process and tools of silkscreen printing. They also explored ongoing evaluation and critique. Students were asked to explore the theme “Community”, defined to be as simple as a group of individuals with a shared interest or as large as a group of people with a common history or common economic or political interests.  Students identified what they thought of as their own community and created stencils to develop artwork based on that theme. Students had the opportunity to exhibit their work created for the school and community.

Project Highlights
“The biggest take away for these students was the ability to communicate without words.  Many of the students struggled with speech, and communicating orally or in writing was a challenge.  As we went through the residency, and the students became comfortable with the printmaking process, you could see them relaxing.  For example, one of the elementary students had a difficult time controlling himself in his regular classes.  Once he understood the steps he needed to complete to make a print, he sat down, and within one hour, had completed his first screen print.  The process that took him one hour, took the other students two or three hours.  I believe that many of the students participating in the residency that struggled in their daily classrooms responded and thrived in an environment where they could work creatively.”  – Nicole Selmer, Artist.

“Students learned the process, grew more confident with the medium and other students.  The older students became better mentors as the week went on. They were also more willing to make mistakes.”  – Amanda Solum, Teacher.