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  • Blog For All!
    October 2017 Archive

    COOL Schools 2016-2017 Report Now Available!

    Posted Monday October 23 2017 at 5:39 pm in Education

    COOL Schools Report Cover 2016/2017

    Hot off the press, a new COOL report.

    We are excited to share our latest COOL Report for the 2016-2017.  Download the PDF now to learn about our programming highlights in schools and with educators across Massachusetts.  Our teaching artists, students, school collaborators created beautiful work together -- inclusive arts integration is having an impact and we want to share that with you.  We promise it will be a COOL read!

    Click the above image or this link to download, print, read the full report.



    We’re Hiring! VSA Massachusetts Director of Programs

    Posted Sunday October 22 2017 at 12:13 pm in News

    Join Our Team

    As the winds continue to take us into new, unchartered, and opportunity-filled terrain, VSA Massachusetts is thrilled to announce that we are commencing a national search for the position of Director of Programs.  This individual will oversee creation and execution of both our signature COOL Schools Programs, as well as our innovative and emergent Cultural Inclusion Programming.

    Sorry, deadline for application submission was November 10, 2017.



    Aysha Upchurch Departing VSA

    Posted Saturday October 21 2017 at 4:48 pm in News

    Aysha Upchurch

    It is with bittersweet excitement that we announce the departure of Aysha Upchurch from VSA Massachusetts after three and a half years of service, laughter, creation and innovation within our COOL Schools programming, and across the organization.  Aysha started with VSA in September 2014 as an Education Intern, and found that the internship was an invaluable complement to her coursework while in school at the Harvard Graduate School of Education -- it allowed her to ground the theoretical frameworks around school-community partnerships, inclusion, and arts integration strategies.  She was delighted to join the staff full time in 2015 after her graduate studies to explore and implement coaching supports and professional development programming, also while bolstering the organization's framing of the intersectional and social justice nature of its work and mission.

    Aysha took a moment to write her own words of gratitude:

    My time at this organization, this family, has been invaluable to me as it has afforded me the opportunity to advance and support work I care about, all while becoming more plugged in to the Boston arts and education communities.  When I came to the Boston area three years ago and survived the most evil winter I have ever experienced, I was certain that I would not stay.  (I hate the winter.)  However, weathering tundra-like temperatures became possible largely in part to the fantastic people I had the privilege to work with and learn from at VSA and the network of local community arts organizations.  I believe deeply in the work that is being done for arts and inclusion in schools and the larger community.  I also believe that teaching artists and community arts organizations have an indelible role in advancing truly progressive and equitable school reform, and it has been a pleasure to work for an organization that brings those voices into the conversation.

    Read More →

    Meet the Intern: Ali Blake

    Posted Wednesday October 18 2017 at 08:45 am in Open Door Gallery

    Ali Blake

    Ali Blake, Associate Gallery Curator at VSA MA and Ed.M Candidate in Arts in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

    What are your favorite pastimes?
          "Rollerskating, being in the ocean, questing for delicious food (and to make it!), a newfound appreciation for growing/harvesting/eating food from my deck (or in the wild!), an evening at home cooking and eating great food with friends while listening to some good music."

    If you could be a cartoon character, who would you be?
          "Daria Morgendorffer (+ warmth) -- intelligent, subversive, snarky."

    You are trapped on an island.  What three items do you want to have with you?
          "A solar-powered, fully-loaded portable music player (iPod), a thriving garden plot to eat from/sustain, a huge book full of blank pages."

    Do you have any uncommon talents or quirks?
          "I find that when there is music playing my body will just start moving, I can't help it!  This can also be music playing in my head and not just 'out loud'.  I've also been known to create hybrid 90s nickelodeon characters!"

    What brings you to VSA?
          "Before starting graduate study, I previously worked as a Direct Support Professional at an arts-based day studio for adults with disabilities, as a Teaching Artist within a youth arts organization, and as someone who worked to connect people/places doing great and related work!  VSA MA intentionally combines aspects of those experiences and I'm thrilled to be able to join in!  As a new Bostonian, I'm grateful to start connecting with folks doing awesome work here!"

    What are you doing during your internship?
          "As Associate Gallery Curator I am assisting in the process of re-imagining the Open Door Gallery space, mission, purpose, programs both within and outside of its walls and across VSA MA's programs!"



    HUBweek 2017 - At the Intersections of Art, Science, Technology

    Posted Monday October 09 2017 at 11:27 pm in News

    HUB week logo

    Join us at HUBweek to explore the future being built in Boston at the intersections of art, science, and technology.  HUBweek will kick off with events taking place all across the city, and land on Boston's City Hall Plaza as it transforms into The HUB presented by Liberty Mutual Insurance.  Filled with 80 shipping containers and 6 geodesic domes, The HUB will feature a multi-day ideas festival, live arts experiences, a massive startup showcase, exhibits, parties, and more.

    VSA Massachusetts is working with HUBweek to introduce several area artists with disabilities to the event.  These will be multi-art and multi-sensory performances that will engage the audience in a creative experience of shared humanity through the prism of the experience of disability.  The VSA performances at HUBweek are part of the Immersion Art Program, sponsored by Union Point, a new city rising 12 miles south of Boston.

    Jon Sarkin is a visual artist and a spoken word performance artist.  He will work with videographer and drummer Emile Doucette and lead guitarist Dan King.  Their performance, Unchained Brain, is a multi-media exploration of the visual art Jon Sarkin produces in the endless creative flow created by damage to his brain caused by a stroke.  Jon will tell his story in a free form rap accompanied by a collection of images ranging from Jon's studio work, to his brain scans, and Jon's performance with indie band Guster.

    Read More →

    Meet the Intern: Amanda Acevedo

    Posted Monday October 09 2017 at 8:38 pm in Education

    Amanda Acevedo

    Greetings!  I'm Amanda and I am here for the year to study for my Ed.M from Harvard's Graduate School of Education, the Arts In Education program.  For the past 11 years I worked as a teaching artist, arts administrator, and performance maker/deviser/curator in Chicago.

    What are your favorite pastimes?
          "Taking my husband on self-guided walking tours of new places, dance parties with my friends, and eating french fries!"

    If you could be a cartoon character, who would you be?
          "I do not have a favorite cartoon character but I would choose to have a cartoon version of myself created by Maira Kalman."

    You are trapped on an island.  What three items do you want to have with you?
          "My cat Abbies, my collection of art postcards, and an endless supply of drinkable water."

    Do you have any uncommon talents or quirks?
          "I am a performance artist - which is perceived as a quirk by many!"

    What brings you to VSA?
          "In Chicago, my administrative practice was always paired with my teaching practice.  I wanted to find the right opportunity to keep connected to schools, teachers, and students while studying.  VSA MA's inclusive, arts integration programming looked like the perfect opportunity to meet and work with amazing arts educators/administrators and learn from the programming they are implementing in Massachusetts schools.  I am grateful to have been brought into this organization to compliment my time studying at Harvard."

    What are you doing during your internship?
          "I'm spending the year as a Teaching Artist Fellow!  I'll be supporting COOL Schools programming by observing classroom sessions, assisting with coordination and documentation, and facilitating communication between VSA MA administrators and teaching artists, as well as teaching artists and teachers."



    Meet the Intern: Elli Smith

    Posted Sunday October 08 2017 at 9:34 pm in News

    Elli Smith

    Hey there!  I'm Elli.  I spent my early years in the pink mountains of New Mexico, searching the sky for double rainbows and breaking open rocks in search of fossils.  Most of my childhood days were passed in Southern California, however, where I learned as much as I could in school, played soccer, and enjoyed time passed with friends and family.  I spent four years studying art history and integrative medicine at UC Berkeley, except my junior year where I lived and learned in Bologna, Italy.  I taught moviemaking in New Orleans schools for a few years, after which I relocated to the Pacific Northwest where I took up circus arts and mentoring Native American youth with equal zest.  My greatest artistic feat to date is a documentary film I made on the healing process of Native youth on a tribal canoe journey.  Now I'm grateful to be in the Arts in Education Master's program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where I’m learning things I never knew I never knew.

    What are your favorite pastimes?
          "I love to laugh, which means I spend a great deal of time with my friends and family.  I love to wander in nature, hike, run, dance, do yoga, sing and play music."

    If you could be a cartoon character, who would you be?
          "My old boss and kids I used to mentor saw Wreck it Ralph and told me 'the main character is you!'  I watched to movie and thought, 'yep, that's pretty much me.'"

    You are trapped on an island.  What three items do you want to have with you?
          "A boat, a chart and a musical instrument.  I'm gettin' off this island!  (And gotta have some tunes, of course.)"

    Do you have any uncommon talents or quirks?
          "I have a compulsion to combine words to make puns.  Say two words and my brain will find a way to smash them together.  I should probably work for an advertising agency."

    What brings you to VSA?
          "My love of kids!  Making art with young ones is one of my favorite things.  I love their unbridled creativity, helping them through the process, and ultimately, seeing the end product.  I have a collection of kid art I've saved over the years; it is some of my favorite art to date!"

    What are you doing during your internship?
          "I will be assisting Teaching Artists in the classroom, helping with teacher professional development and creating media content for the website."