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Tag Archives: creativity

Creativity Unleashers

by Sarah Rinner, Elementary School Program Director

Shout out to Creative Action in the Austin Chronicle here!

I couldn’t resist the temptation to share my surprise and joy at reading about us. And in such a fitting category! We were named Creativity Unleashers, which is super cool. Let me tell you a few ways that we are doing this in our after school classes:

  • Rubber bands and oatmeal cans make great guitars;
  • We take the Magic Sidewalk when we go to Sillytown;
  • Students can decide their sculptures should raise money for a good cause;
  • Our teachers are more than artists: they are mad scientists, musicians, masters of magic and movie-makers;
  • Students are challenged to find real solutions to relevant challenges;
  • And because a roll of tape can be so much more than just a roll of tape.

That’s the great thing about unleashing student creativity–you don’t always know where they will take you, but it is an unforgettable journey!

One Person’s Junk is Another Person’s Treasure

by Amanda Davis, Guest Blogger

In the last 7 months since finishing my service year at Creative Action, I have been hard at work learning more about my own creative power to take something that someone else might see as trash and turn it into something beautiful.

Refurbishment of the items that we already have in this world is such a critical aspect to take into mind. When you get the chance to look at something in shambles and that some people think is junk, and then get the chance to create it into something new it brings about such a great joy. I recently watched a video, which I found while reading a blog about this young lady who searched through the dump for bike parts. She would take apart a bike and then turn those pieces into beautiful chandeliers. She used her creative power to take someone else’s trash and create it into a beautiful piece of art.

This month, I am working towards the recreation process of items that just needed a little tender, loving care. At a yard sale last month, I picked up what used to be someone’s jewelry box that they had decoupaged magazine and family pictures onto. I have begun the process of tearing it apart and sanding it down to its original wood. Then, I will add on new hardware and stain it to become a beautiful piece. I hope that this great box will then become a new vintage style box purse for a new owner. (I will add a finished photo in the next blog I write).

Every time I get ready to start a new project, I always think about how Creative Action has been working with recycling of items and creating new from old. If you ever want the chance to see how the recreation projects from Creative Action turn out, just take the opportunity to head out this weekend to I Spy Pie! at Central Market.

P.S. I have two favorite pies in my life, apple pie and pumpkin pie. Both have always reminded me so much fall and time spent with family.

Combating Boredom

by Amanda Davis, Guest Blogger

Summer has began and even here in Missouri it is starting to warm up. Summer for me always meant that I couldn’t truly enjoy being outdoors for more than a few hours because of the heat. When I was younger it also meant the summer boredom after more than a few weeks of being out of school. So to combat that boredom, I would always take the opportunity and go to summer camp or take summer classes to keep my mind fresh. It made summer much more enjoyable.

Well, even as an adult I need to work on keeping my mind creative sometimes. This May and June, I decided to start on a new project. For the last 16 days, I have been working on a creative challenge called the 30 Day Drawing Challenge. I have been doing a new drawing and posting it on my personal blog every day. This has allowed me to not only keep my mind fresh, but by the end to have 30 awesome new drawings. The best part about this challenge is making each drawing a little different and mixing up my mediums. In a way, I feel as though I have created my own summer drawing camp.

Theatre Action Project has many resources for your own kids to keep them creative during the summer. Each week, summer camp will introduce them to some new creative endeavor that can combat that summer boredom and bring out the creative child that you have.

P.S. My favorite summer camp memory comes from me being a camp counselor in Upstate New York during the summer of 2009. As Arts and Crafts Counselor, I had fun teaching art to the girls, but the best part of camp was the friends that I made that summer. My favorite event of the summer was Red VS Green, a relay among the staff doing zany activities. I was on Green Team and even though we lost, it was still one of the best staff activities we ever did.

Springtime Brings Renewal

by Amanda Davis, Guest Blogger

“Ohio Falls” by Mandolin Artworks

There is something in the air that brings out my creativity in the spring and having the luxury to sit outside while creating makes it even more special. The inspirations to glance around at the colors that surround us within this season bring about many artistic ideas. This brings into thought for me about how we can take something so out of the ordinary in everyday life and spice it up to be extra special.

I have had many opportunities for springtime art, but one of my favorite paintings was born during this season. I was in a painting class my sophomore year at Benedictine College with a professor by the name of Dr. Carol. This man was absolutely incredible and known for teaching just about any student how to paint. He loved to inspire us, by telling us to truly connect with our art by becoming a kid again. To have the passion to reconnect with that inner child just made the art blossom so much more. The painting that I created was of a waterfall I had photographed on a trip to Ohio that spring and had been in awe and wonder at how it would look as a painting. I still wish at times that I was in possession of this painting, but I had painted it for a friend. The way the spring and Dr. Carol had inspired this painting was by allowing me to reconnect with that kindred spirit of mine, by allowing me to be free like the spring air.

Every day at Theatre Action Project there is that opportunity for the teaching artists to connect with their students and bring about that sense of renewal. TAP is fully inspiring students to always stay connected to that part of them that makes life extra special.

Amanda Davis is a former AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer who served Theatre Action Project from 2011 to 2012.

Look back. Look at. Look forward.

This past weekend, TAP staff Karen LaShelle, Patrick Torres, and Sarah Rinner, convened in Boston with arts education thought leaders from around the country at the annual National Guild for Community Arts Education conference.

The opening plenary of the conference included a speech and performance entitled, Look back. Look at. Look forward. by artist/activist Will Power. His address was deeply inspiring and provided the perfect framework for the conference as he encouraged us to preserve our past by sharing it in the present in an effort to shape our future. So, we thought it would only be appropriate for us to share the lessons we learned from the conference using his format: Read the rest of this entry

The Amazing Students from Garcia Middle School

by Patrick Torres, Middle School and High School Director

When I first arrived at Theatre Action Project, it was important me to work with a group of students as quickly as possible. I knew that no matter how many staff members I met with or how many grants, articles, or handbooks I read about the organization, I wouldn’t understand the heart of TAP until I got in a room with some of our participants. Luckily, that opportunity came in my second week as I accompanied Florinda Bryant to our after-school programming at Gus Garcia Middle School.

For those of us working in education, we know from a variety of experiences that middle school students in an after school environment present a variety of challenges. It is often difficult in these settings to keep the students focused and motivated. And while these challenges do exist at Garcia, I have never worked with a group of students who overcome those challenges so quickly.

It is astonishing to see how invested they can be when presented with a chance to let their creative juices flow.

These particular students dive into scripts like professional actors, studying their characters and dissecting the conflicts of their plays. It is similar to watching someone on a treasure hunt as they work to make sense of the language and the scenes they are given to act out. During rehearsals, they work to accurately convey the emotions of the characters and motivate one another to dig deeper and try harder. It has been fun to watch! And they have reminded me of some very important lessons:

  • Students need to be challenged. Many times problems with focus come from students feeling uninspired by what you’ve given them.
  • Students are way more perceptive than you think…if you believe they are going to be trouble…they will be trouble. But if you respect them as individuals and believe they are capable of success, they will be successful.
  • Drama is fun! While working on a play takes hard work and they can be used to teach us serious lessons, it is called a “play” for a reason!
  • Theatre as an art form brings us all together to have a common experience, so no matter who made us mad earlier in the day or what I might be frustrated with in my environment , telling stories allows me to connect to those around me.

I am thankful the students at Garcia were my first class at TAP. They have reminded me of the reasons I love what I do for a living and that middle school students are just as capable of being great artists as any of us.They have their final sharing this afternoon and I cannot wait to see them in action!