The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

As the Artist-in-Residence at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) from 2012-2016, I taught painting, sculpture, photography, batik, sewing, knitting, mask making, printmaking, miniature model construction, plaster casting, and drawing to children and young adults ages 3-30.

I taught them formal techniques but that was only the beginning. They changed me. I saw in them children full of rage, sass, humor, wisdom, and subversive transcendence. I was charmed and delighted. I was awestruck and quiet. Their vitality challenged me to work with more depth and integrity as a caregiver and an artist. I was enriched by the dialogue between their lives and mine, their art and my art; to let their wildness smash any remaining notions I had about what it means to be human.

Project P.L.A.Y, Philadelphia

As the “Art Specialist” from January 2017 - present, I teach Creative Movement, Visual Art, and Music Together to children ages 2-5. But because very young children are experts in fluidity and chaos I end up doing a little bit of everything. We have to talk a lot about feelings and the social negotiations we engage in are some of the most difficult. I don’t pretend to be an expert. Because really what are you supposed to do when no one else wants to do your idea? Or when you want to be close to someone who needs space? It’s very real. And then there are all the biggest philosophical questions to tackle: Where were we before we were born? Can we choose what happens to our body when we die? Why do people hurt other people and do you think someone who is evil thinks they are evil? It’s big philosophy with small people, every day.

The University of the Arts, Philadelphia

Shame Workshops, 2017

Under the guidance of Anne White, Chelsea and I taught our shame research to both seniors and sophomores in dance at the University of the Arts. The curriculum was designed so that each student could craft a unique solo that explored the pleasureful and previously denied aspects of their performed identity. We were so honored to witness and doula a wide range of shame solos. Our class included performances of: selfish, naive, flirty, black-hearted, overly enthusiastic and a crybaby.

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Mural Arts of Philadelphia

Teaching Artist, October 2016 - May 2017

The A2O program was a Partnership between Mural Arts and Parks and Recreation. Its goals were two-fold: to create a semi-permanent work of art at and after-school recreational center and to expose the students to nature. I added my own goals: to facilitate vivid self-portraits of teenagers and explore their sense of fashion. I wanted the final product to say: we are the art. The resulting portraits had a little bit of everything: art, nature, self and fashion.

Photos by Jaime Alvarez

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