Archive for the ‘Arts Education’ Category

2017 Volunteer Award Recipient Elli Swink

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

At this year’s County Executive’s Awards ceremony, Mr. Ike Leggett will present the 2017 Volunteer Award to Elli Swink for her work with Damascus Theatre Company.

Reserve your ticket today and join us on November 6 at 7 pm as we honor Elli, and many others, at the 2017 Montgomery County Executive’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts in Humanities

Read on and get to know a little more about Elli.

In what ways do you think your involvement in the Montgomery County arts and culture sector is impactful?

I think working with the youth in our community theater company, our DTC Kids, is the most impactful thing that we/I do.  We are training them to perform live theater and also in the technical aspects of theater. Many have gone on to make this their career. In a small community like Damascus, this offers children and entire families an opportunity to work together to create something really wonderful and entertaining and they gain confidence and become so proud of what we’ve created together through our hard work.

What do you love about the arts and culture sector in Montgomery County?

I love the variety of musical, theater, and cultural events that Montgomery County has to offer. There are many theater groups and particularly groups for children and teens to become involved with to learn theater arts. I’m proud of the role our group has had in teaching theater to children and at a very affordable cost in part because of our support from the Arts & Humanities Council.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to get involved in arts and culture?

Get involved! Reach out to your local theater company and ask how you can help. Start with ushering to meet a few people and then be open to learning how to house manage or paint and build sets. Arts groups welcome people willing to volunteer.

What do you see on the horizon for arts and culture in local and global communities?

It seems that each year more and more theater groups are forming. I think that will continue. In these difficult times, theater offers a beautiful distraction to the despair many people are feeling.

What was your earliest “art spark” or impetus for an interest in the arts?

My interest in the arts and theater began when my sister’s middle school teacher selected her to play ‘Amaryllis’ in our community’s production of The Music Man in Waynesboro, PA. Seeing Debbie up there on stage and watching that musical was magical. Years later, I signed up to be part of my high school’s productions, working backstage on props and crew. Once I married and moved to Montgomery County and our daughter Maggie was old enough to get involved too, we all joined the Damascus Theatre Company. I credit my parents for taking us to community theater shows. This was the impetus for my interest in the arts.

Penguin Rush Hour Returns

Friday, March 31st, 2017

On Wednesday, March 29, the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC), Metro and Montgomery County gathered to celebrate the installation of an old friend, Penguin Rush Hour, a public art mural outside of the Silver Spring Metro Station.

The 100-foot mural, designed by Sally Callmer Thompson, is a whimsical depiction of penguin commuters rushing through the Metro transit. The mural was the result of a 1989 design competition sponsored by Metro to create a temporary mural near the Red Line station. Metro intended to display the original mural for only one-year. Fourteen years later, the mural had become a fixture at the Silver Spring Metro Station.

After years of exposure, the mural needed repairs and in 2005, Silver Spring Regional Center and AHCMC launched “pennies for penguins” to help restore the work. The 25-panel mural returned to the community as a permanent piece of Montgomery County’s public art collection, which includes 258 artworks and approximately 500 works on paper.

What I love about public art is that, unlike art that is viewed intentionally by going to a specific exhibit, public art is experienced where many people might not expect to find art, and through those shared public experiences, a lasting connection to that community, and the artwork itself, can be formed. –Sally Callmer Thompson

The celebration included CEO of AHCMC Suzan Jenkins, County Executive Isiah Leggett, Council President Roger Berliner, Councilmember Tom Hucker and WMATA Board Member Kathy Porter.

L to R: Council President Roger Berliner, Arts and Humanities Council CEO Suzan Jenkins, WMATA Board Member Kathy Porter, County Executive Isiah Leggett, and Councilmember Tom Hucker

“I’m happy to be here today to see an old friend return to its home in Silver Spring,” said Councilmember Tom Hucker, who represents Silver Spring. County Executive Isiah Leggett said, “We’ve done a great many things that have been important for our community. But I tell you everywhere I go, people stop and say to me – ‘When are the penguins coming back?’”

Well, the penguins are back and residents and commuters are delighted at their return!

See more moments from the return of the penguins here.

Our 2016 Highschool Visual Art Award Winner Shares Her Story

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Every year, AHCMC awards the Ida F. Haimovicz Visual Arts Award to a highschool student who posesses an extraordinary gift for the visual arts.  The honor includes an opportunity to mount a solo exhibition at the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery & Music Room as well as a cash prize of $3,000 to support the advancement of a career in the visual arts.

Below, our 2016 award recipient Zoe Hall discusses her inspirations and shares her experience as this year’s winner.


Kids + Cameras + Nature = Art

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Give a kid a camera, let ‘em loose in the woods or a field or along a creek and some very special things happen. Intense observation, concentration, creative problem solving: ART. Ansel Adams’ mother said that after being in nature, her ADHD son was calmer and more focused. Later, Adams took his focus and his camera into nature and photography has never been the same.

On Saturday, June 9th a very special exhibition of young Ansel Adamses opens across from Lilly Magilly’s Cupcakery at the Washingtonian Center in Gaithersburg. It’s a display of photographs and photo-collages by nearly 100 fourth graders from Gaithersburg Elementary School. Don’t miss the reception on Saturday from 1:30 to 2:30 PM at 217 Boardwalk Place (click here for directions).

The students are part of two very interesting eco-based photography programs led by AHCMC’s teaching artist Joanne Miller.  Joanne’s gotta thing for nature. She likes it. Lots. An art photographer focusing her camera lens on wildlife living at the edge of urban landscapes, Joanne is well known in the region for her hauntingly beautiful photographs. AHCMC was pleased to have her included in the inaugural exhibition, Three Visions of Nature, at the Kramer Gallery in 2010 (click here). We’re equally delighted to have Joanne bring her own special brand of ecology and art to AHCMC’s Arts Integrated Residencies. You can find Joanne here in our Teaching Artist Roster.

“Photography offers kids a creative opportunity to experience the wonder of nature through the eye of a camera,” Joanne told me. “As they master new skills and discover the simple beauty of the outdoor world, a change takes place in their art and personal expression.”

Working with the fourth grade teachers–Susan Knutson and Patricia Kennedy–Joanne led an in-school residency supported by a grant from AHCMC that integrated art, science and technology.  When Joanne works with kids, she gives them digital cameras to learn on. The students photographed the nature around their schools and made and photographed model ecosystems in the classroom. When they were done photographing the fun really began. Just because her students are in fourth grade doesn’t mean Joanne stints on learning. Nope, students learn how to upload and manipulate their photos on Macs and PCs. Using school computers, the printed photographs and created photo-collages.

“The fourth grade students thoroughly enjoyed linking nature, photography and the arts,” said Lisa Lewis, a teacher at Gaithersburg Elementary. “They truly have a new found respect for how nature plays an important part of our world.  This program was a great experience for our students and was a perfect match for our curriculum.”

What did the students think?

“I like the way we were able to look at nature inside and then go outside to take real photos,” says Raquel.  “You could compare and contrast environments.”

“Since March, I’ve noticed more changes in nature,” said Vanesa.

Gaithersburg Elementary School has a student body of almost 700 students ranging from Pre-K to Kindergarten with a large ESOL population. They’ve also got some great afterschool partners, like Linkages to Learning (LTL) and Identity. Together LTL and Identify worked with teaches and administrators to build a nature and photography after-school program. Fifteen students were selected to participate and Joanne was contracted to teach this program as well. Funding for the after-school program was community driven with a grant from the City of Gaithersburg, individual donors and some funding and in-kind help from Asbury Methodist Village.

In this 9-week after-school program, students learned about the visual language of art and photography and explored nature around the school, at a local farm and in the wildlife habitat of Asbury Methodist Village. Students created photographic hand-made books and exhibition prints, while developing positive self esteem and respect for the natural environment, and as Joanne believes, “ an understanding that they [the children] are an important part of the world around them.”

When I asked Joanne why bother with an exhibition, she said: “Building self esteem, it’s a valuable experience for children to be honored by their community for their creative vision. When a child points to their photograph in a public exhibition, immediately you see the pride in their eyes and smiles, and so valuable too, a sense of pride in their parents hearts.”

These two nature programs have done more than build knowledge and skill, they’re building awareness and pride in the students, the schools and the community. Local business The Peterson Companies stepped up to the plate and graciously offered and exhibition space for the exhibit at the Washingtonian Center. Joanne worked with GreenKids to plan the exhibition and host the reception.

It took a village to put these programs together and the village has succeeded tremendously. Kudos to you Gaithersburg!

The exhibition will be on display at the Washingtonian Center indefinitely. You can see if from the street at 217 Boardwalk 24/7.

Ruthie Prillaman: Passagio

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Congratulations to Ruthie Prillaman, the 2012 recipient of the Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award! Both she and the Haimovicz Visual Arts Award recipient, Samantha Ritchie, will be recognized at a special ceremony on June 12. Ruthie will also read a selection of her work. Join us next Tuesday for this free reception!

by Ruthie Prillaman

It sounds like the parting of the Red Sea
As portrayed by some Italian Renaissance painter.
One would never think that it’s nothing more
Then a couple of notes humming between strings
No thicker than an eyelid.

I never know where to wave my hands
When I’m walking the tightrope.
Sway too far to the left
And a gust of wind grinds the rope to tatters.
Sway too far to the right
And the air gets too thin to breathe.

Fibers get brittle over time
If you don’t feed them;
they turn to spider webs,
sticking to your cheeks
But breaking under your touch.

I never wanted to face it,
Knowing that it would be years
Before I could weave the threads
Into anything resembling a bridge
That might support half the weight of my foot.

You can’t make your passagio go away
But if you oil it enough
And let it grow,
You can forget that it’s there
And cross.

Poetry Out Loud: Kari Barclay

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Each year over 365,000 high school students compete in Poetry Out Loud, a national recitation contest. Hear from Kari Barclay, a second-year Poetry Out Loud contestant, about his experience participating in Poetry Out Loud.

This is my second year reciting in Poetry Out Loud after last year coming in first at the state level and advancing to national finals, where I made it to the top 9 (out of 365,000). My experience with PoL has been phenomenal. Poetry Out Loud surrounds teens with students who, like them, are obsessed with poetry, and each teen has a passion for the poems he or she recites. Through Poetry Out Loud, I’ve met actors and slam poets and songwriters who all have a love for the spoken word. Each person has a message they want to get across to their audience.

Last year, I recited “Dog” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “Death be not proud” by John Donne, and “anyone lived in a pretty how town” by e.e. cummings. Speaking the poems aloud brings many of them alive. And for many students confronted with written works in a classroom setting, what would be intimidating on the page is electrifying spoken aloud. This year, I’ve come back for Poetry Out Loud to hear great reciters like the ones I encountered last year and to experiment with some new poems, “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell and “Under the Vulture-Tree” by David Bottoms. For me, it’s rewarding to take the words on the page and give them to the audience, in a form that does not spoon-feed meaning but rather gives the audience room to interpret. I’ve loved discovering hidden layers to the poems I’m reading and joining others for their discoveries as they recite.

– Kari Barclay

Kari will compete in the Maryland state competition this Saturday, March 3 at the Baltimore Museum of Art. He is also featured as a Top Teen in Bethesda Magazine’s March/April 2012 issue.

Link Roundup: Animated email marketing, polar bears at the Super Bowl and our local Poetry Out Loud champ

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

And here’s what we tweeted this week at @creativemoco!


Takeaways: First, a little background. I’m signed up to receive emails from Coach, Last Call Neiman Marcus and other luxury brands, and I noticed their subtle and classy use of animated GIFs in their email marketing. (Yes, it’s possible — we’ve moved beyond the flashing GIFs of Geocities and Angelfire!) If you’re going to go this route, make sure that the first frame of your GIF stands alone and works in the context of the rest of the email. Animated GIFs work in most email clients but not all, and only the first frame of your GIF will appear in email clients that don’t support animation. Also, take care that the animation isn’t overwhelming or distracting — keep it subtle and give it a purpose.


Takeaways: Each time the Super Bowl goes to commercial break on Sunday, Coca-Cola’s ad execs will decide on site which of their two prepared ads air depending on who is winning. There’s also an online component where the two polar bears will be shown reacting to the game in (almost) real time! This is probably one of the most ambitious and innovative Super Bowl ad campaigns I’ve seen recently, and I’m excited to see its actual implementation. I also can’t help but wonder what ways we and other businesses can become more interactive and use online media to enhance live experiences, if appropriate.


Takeaways: On January 18, local students participated in the Montgomery County Poetry Out Loud competition and Kari Barclay of Richard Montgomery High School emerged as our County champion! He’s advancing to the regional competition at Calvert Marine Museum on February 11. Kari also placed first in last year’s Poetry Out loud competition. Congrats to Kari and all Poetry Out Loud participants — you did Montgomery County proud!


Takeaways: Well-rested = happier = more productive! I’m taking note of #3, #4, #8 and #9 in this blog post.

Make sure to follow us at @creativemoco for our daily article tweets! Also, join us and others in Montgomery County’s creative community at the #CreativeMoCo Tweetup at The Fillmore Silver Spring on Wednesday, February 22. Register now!

Link Roundup: Timing Facebook posts, arts education and influencing styles

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Here’s a summary of the articles we tweeted this week:


Didn’t post an article this week due to our office being closed for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. There’ll be one next week, promise!


Takeaways: Basically, the first paragraph of the article: “The average news feed post by a Facebook Page receives Likes and comments for 3 hours after being published. To maximize the engagement, impressions, and traffic driven by the news feed, Facebook Page owners should wait at least 3 hours between posts.” Makes sense.


Takeaways: This article reiterates what us arts managers, educators and advocates have known: that arts education teaches skills like collaboration, confidence, accountability and effective communication, and that these skills are essential for the 21st century workforce. Also, follow our friend Shoshana at @AudienceDevSpec; she’s always tweeting interesting and useful articles!


Takeaways: This article identifies five influencing styles (how one impacts others’ ideas and actions) and points out that there’s an effective and ineffective way of using each one. How will you adjust your communication to make collaborating more efficient?

Be sure to follow us at @creativemoco, and comment below or tweet us if there are articles you think we should be tweeting!

Arts Education Upclose: Fantastic Voyages Through Our Imagination

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

By Tammi Gardner, Theatre

On the first day of classes, my students walked into the Creative Kids classroom and saw a big square made from blue tape in the middle of the room and exclaimed, “This room is completely empty!” And I replied, “That’s because we are going fill it up with our IMAGINATION!”

And as promised over the next three weeks, we have managed to:

  • Travel to the jungle of West Africa where we asked the Sky God for Wisdom and had to complete three impossible tasks;
  • Go Italy to visit Strega Nona (Grandmother Witch) where we made a “magic pot” of pasta – made a monster named Abiyoyo disappear by singing and playing our ukeleles;
  • Waddled our way to Antarctica to play with some wacky penguins;
  • Chased a wild “dumpling” down a hole where we met the Wicked Oni;
  • And even went to the MOON in our rocket ship for a glass of milk and a “moon pie.”

All by using our 5 Acting Tools and Skills:  Imagination, Concentration, Cooperation, our Bodies and our Voice.

As we continued the Creative Kids Program into its third week of the ELO-Care Program, each class has shined in different aspects of the program curriculum and are preparing for their final performance on Thursday, June 28.

The Green Group (2nd/3rd graders) were awesome at retelling stories and acting them out.  They were able to use their imaginations not only to create the characters but inanimate objects also came alive and became a part of our story enactment.  By cooperating and working together, they made a wonderful environmental orchestra providing the background sounds for our stories too!  They will be enacting their favorite story, “Jimmy Zangwow’s Out Of This World Moon Pie Adventure” as their final performance piece and leading the entire ELO-Care student body in a moving, yet silly warm-up!

While the Baseball Group (3rd/4th graders) excelled at writing their own extension stories and even wrote a story called “Smelly Business” – that told of the  antics of Big Anthony when he takes Strega Nona’s magic perfume and grows a heap of trouble – and made it into a book to send to children in a homeless shelter.  They will be performing their own hip extension story based off “Tacky the Penguin” called, “Wacky Tacky Meets the New Girl in Town.”

The Basketball Group (4th/5th graders) focused more of how the 6 Pillars of Characters were represented or applied in each of our stories.  As growing young people, they quickly learned the effects words and actions – even when given by friends – can affect people and hurt them.  As their final performance, two students will be hosting a live “talk show” (based off the story “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears”) to interview animals (played by the other students)  accused of the terrible crime of killing a baby owlet, so that “…Mother Owl won’t wake the Sun so the day will come.”  The hosts will help each animal determine their part in the tragedy and what they – using the 6 Pillars – could have done differently to have prevented it.

What a trip!  If only we had a few more – just imagine where else we could go!

Arts Education Upclose: Quite the Characters

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

By Nora Achrati

At Broad Acres, the kids rotate activities every six days according to age group. They’ve been divided into three classes each of 4th & 5th-graders, 2nd & 3rd-graders, and kindergarten & 1st-graders. I started out with the 4th & 5th-graders, who are fantastic. These kids threw themselves into our stories improv games, and really impressed me with the level of respect and empathy they carried for each other.

It was bittersweet having to give them up in the middle of Week 2 – they’d done some really stellar work with the Zomo story, inventing and illustrating new paths for Zomo to take in his quest for the scales of Big Fish, the milk of Wild Cow, and the tooth of Leopard. We’re excited to be able to donate these different Zomo stories to the community.

Wednesday I was introduced to the 2nd and 3rd-graders for the first time, which meant starting again from scratch. These kids are much more rambunctious, harder to settle, so we’ve had to re-emphasize the character pillars and class rules each day. And we’ve been experimenting with compromises – setting up a “wiggle area” where kids who find it harder to sit still can be for a while (individually, and quietly), and balancing on-the-floor acting activities with hands-on, sit-down activities. I’ve had to adapt my lessons, too – my second class of the day rebelled against Strega Nona (too many of them had read it before and wanted something new), so Thursday we read and performed “Manana Iguana” together, and Friday we spent making masks to represent the different animal characters:

Emely as Conejo (Rabbit)

Sam and Hyggencio as Culebra (Snake) – It's a bit hard to tell here, but both Sam and Hyggencio came up with a clever way to use pipe cleaners for Culebra's tongue and construction paper for his fangs.

More Conejos (a popular choice). I'm particularly proud of Kelvin, left, who tends to get into trouble when we're on the floor acting but thrives when he has art materials in front of him.

My two other classes are also familiar with Strega Nona, but they’ve enjoyed adapting the story to our classroom theater, and they’re terrific at embodying the different characters – including Strega Nona’s animals, the townspeople, and the magnficent pasta pot.

Based on the success of the masks, though, I think I’ll be introducing “Manana Iguana” to the other classes before our time is up. The kids in the second class seemed to appreciate how much Spanish was incorporated into the story – for many, Spanish is a primary language at home – and enjoyed translating for me the days of the week and their own words for “party.” They’ve also been excellent at identifying the “Little Red Hen” themes of the story, and applying the character pillars.

This program is  part of the Summer ELO-CARE program offered to select students in Montgomery County Pubic Schools.  This is the ninth year that AHCMC has had the privilege to work with MCPS on this very worthy program.  ELO-CARE is made possible by a grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program and the Maryland State Department of Education.