Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Introducing Arts Mentoring Fellow: Beth Nixon

Beth Nixon is the human behind many Ramshackle Enterprises. She creates puppet shows, piñatas, parades, pageants, clown acts, suitcase theaters, illustrations, masks, magical lands and other spectaculah- on her own, and in collaboration with other humans of all ages, abilities and persuasions. Mostly she uses cardboard, science, and the imagination. Her performances and installations occur in galleries, garages, street corners and stages.
Since 1999, Beth has been a teaching artist and an artist-in-residence at museums, libraries, schools, senior centers, and at addiction recovery and mental health programs. She was awarded a 2010 Leeway Transformation Award for her art and social change work. She has had the opportunity to hone her artist educator/ human chops by participating in The Artists in Communities Training Program at The Asian Arts Initiative, Undoing Racism Trainings with The Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond, and other ice-breaker filled learning labs. Beth has an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College; her thesis work was entitled "Navigating Curious Terrain: An Illustrated Field Guide to Ethics, Power and Imagination in Community-based Puppetry and Personal Practice.”
She and her family have recently relocated from Philly, unable to resist the pull back to Beth’s RI homeland. Beth believes in the power of bike helmets, cornstarch, tide pools, emancipatory pedagogy, utopian performatives, and snacks. She builds portals and gives guided tours to places that don't yet exist. About her new role as an Arts Mentoring Fellow at New Urban Arts Beth declares:
I am eager to provoke and engage in unfolding conversations with other artists who are interested in navigating the complicated and rewarding process of witnessing, nudging, questioning, and working alongside teenagers as they discover who they are, what they want to say, or what mediums and methods get them fired up!

Introducing Arts Mentoring Fellow: Rick Benjamin

Rick Benjamin is a community artist who currently practices art-making & learning at Brown University (Environmental Studies & Public Humanities), RISD (Literary Arts), Goddard College (in their MFA program in Interdisciplinary Arts) & in many other learning communities in & around Providence (among them elementary, middle & high schools and assisted living centers).
While his primary medium is poetry, he is also interested & has been engaged with collaborative installations, performance pieces, print-making & language designing & glass-blowing, among other things. His first book, Passing Love, was published in 2010 by Wolf Ridge Press in San Francisco, & his next, Floating World, is forthcoming in 2013. He is generally determined to stretch the boundaries of what it means to be human & to explore inquiry & encounters into the non-human, sentient world as well.
Every time I have been invited in to New Urban Arts (it always feels like I’m being welcomed, even if I just wander in), I’m struck by the energy of the place, by how much is happening around me. On some level, there is an implicit understanding here that learning can happen equally in conversations, play, making together, mentoring, improvisation; it’s somewhat planned & unpredictable at the same time. My kind of place. I’ve been fortunate to be in the company of members of this learning community many times... always with this lingering (both daunting & exciting) idea that I’d like to be more of this place, that, while I liked, sometimes, simply looking through its windows from the perspective of the observer, I also wanted in in a fuller way...

Announcing our 2012-2013 Arts Mentoring Fellows: Rick Benjamin and Beth Nixon!

Please join us in welcoming our Arts Mentoring Fellows for the 2012-13 year: Rick Benjamin and Beth Nixon! New Urban Arts awards fellowships annually to two established artists and educators in a yearlong position to: (1) support the team of artists who mentor high school students in our award-winning free out-of-school arts programs; (2) share publicly artwork or ideas about community arts practice reflective of New Urban Arts pedagogy, and (3) work as an artist-in-residence in New Urban Arts' studio. Executive Director Jason Yoon says,
Rick and Beth are both experienced and talented artists, educators with a long track records of integrating their work as artists and educators towards the purpose of community empowerment, which at our core, is what New Urban Arts is about. Beth and Rick have long relationships and histories with our organization and, as a pair, collectively balance fresh new perspectives that will push us while also bringing a necessary familiarity and affinity for our work. They will help New Urban Arts and the City of Providence continue to be on the cutting edge of helping artists play key roles in community and youth development.
The Arts Mentoring Fellowship program is designed to be rotating, among other reasons, in order to help us stay fresh and passionate and innovative within our mission and values. We are really excited to continue working with our most recent Arts Mentoring Fellows, Kedrin Frias and Emmy Bright, in new and interesting ways.