Spare Parts Helps Students Get Their Art On At Harlandale ISD STREAM Summer Program

Spare Parts was thrilled to participate in Harlandale ISD’s STREAM program during June and July this summer. Seven Spare Parts instructors hosted art programs at four campuses, all with a focus on reuse in art education. Omar Leos, the Fine Arts Coordinator for HISD says that the main goal of the program, “…is to have enrichment activities that focus on STREAM (Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). The benefits are numerous, but we want students to get excited about learning and take what they learn in the summer and apply it during the regular school year. We want them to know that all these subjects are related and tied to one another.”

The summer program originally began as a two-week Robotics camp in 2014. Harlandale ISD STEM & GT Coordinator, Anthony Khosravi, describes how the next summer they went on to establish a STEM Pipeline provided STEM-related instruction and after-school opportunities for all students interested in a STEM career or degree. Recognizing the need for a more well-rounded program, the STEM/GT department offered their first STREAM camp at Morrill Elementary School in 2015. “A little over 250 elementary students were part of the first STREAM camp,” says Khosravi. “The second STREAM summer camp was at Stonewall Elementary School, and Leal Middle School, as we began working with middle school students, and our program steadily grew to over 350 students the second year in 2016.”

This summer, the STREAM summer program expanded to six elementary schools, one middle school campus and the STEM Early College High School campus. Nearly 600 students attended the STREAM program, with 100 staff members supporting as teachers, assistants and clerical staff.

“This summer’s expansion was made possible through a district grant which was awarded to eight campuses within the district,” says Khosravi. The TEXAS ACE grant, administered by the Texas Education Agency and funded through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative of the U.S. Department of Education, was awarded to these campuses participating in the program.

The overarching goal of the Texas ACE program is to foster each student’s academic success by improving attendance, behavior and academics which lead to grade level promotion, graduation and helping students be more prepared for college and the workplace. The grant was specifically intended to help provide enrichment during non-school hours, which is imperative during the three-month hiatus from academics during the summer. While the summer program ended in July, Texas ACE will continue to provide after-school education designed to enrich student academic success on each campus.

Omar Leos oversaw the fine arts enrichment activities at all campuses, including arts workshops hosted by Spare Parts instructors. 

Some of the highlights of the program included karate, yoga, ballet, visual art, coding, robotics, xylophone and ukulele lessons. At one campus, students even worked on a musical rendition called, “Disney’s The Lion King Kids.”

To prepare for their visual arts workshops, Spare Parts instructors made a trip up to the Austin Creative Reuse Center, bringing back a van full of preloved supplies to share with the students. The instructors hit the ground rolling with students that same week.

At Adams elementary instructors Amy Jones, Amy Johnson, Gabriela Santiago and Kara Michele Salinas led students in creating an Art-A-Zon with a recycled cardboard jungle, ocean diorama binders, giant creatures, and cardboard robots.

Daniel Flores helped students at Terrell Wells Middle School create moving art with dry erase markers, 3D sculptures and bubble blowers, leftover coffee paint, floating chalk prints, fingerprint portraits, and pop art sculptures.

Junye Butler led students in creating mini box sculptures, owl paintings, yarn string balls, art inspired by music, salt dough sculptures and more at Stonewall/Flanders Elementary.

At Collier Elementary, students created a number of projects including bird mobiles, cork sailboats, recycled sea creatures, space collages, and much, much more with Dezarre Boone.

Kara Salinas, who taught in July at Adams elementary, created her lessons and project ideas in May and June. “But [I] followed closely the progress of all the schools [as the other instructors taught]. I really did not want to revisit a technique or project by accident when it was my turn to teach. I used cardboard as did the other teachers. I wanted to focus teaching the process to change the cardboard, and create items that were not immediately recognized as cardboard, Salinas said. “Teaching for the STREAM program really forced me to create lessons that were part of a bigger concept like structure, vocabulary, or modeling the color spectrum. This program was not a summer of craft making. I am thoroughly impressed by the knowledge of the participating students, and their willingness to work together. I learned a lot from the students participating in STREAM. I will never forget this experience.”

Throughout the camp, Spare Parts made it a point to emphasize the importance of reuse to the students. And although it took some habit breaking leading kids away from the garbage bin, it was inspiring to see how the students ran with the ideas given to them.

spare parts founder Mary Elizabeth Cantú honored with “Art of Peace” Award

What’s the leading creative reuse arts organization in San Antonio? You only need one guess. The efforts of spare parts–to educate and demonstrate to the community the path of artistic expression through creative reuse–is unprecedented in our city. Founder and Director Mary Elizabeth Cantú, the charismatic force driving spare parts, continually challenges and inspires people of all ages to re-think the connection between environmental impact and making art.

Throughout the years, Cantú has been given media recognition, kudos and awards from such publication as San Antonio Magazine and Texas Public Radio. The MINI ART MUSEUM, a project created by Cantú and Gabriela Santiago, won Contemporary Art Month awards two years in a row. A combination of multi-faceted programs blending cultural arts, materials accessibility and environmental activism, spare parts, now in its fifth year, is reaching a pivotal point of growth and influence.

On February 17, 2016 in conjunction with St. Mary’s University’s Conference on Justice and Social Concerns, Cantú was awarded the Art of Peace award. This prestigious award was presented by the President of St. Mary’s University Tom Mengler. President Mengler describing the award, said “The artist chosen must be worthy both as an artist, in terms of quality, as determined by reputation in the artistic community and one who, through art, works for peace, as determined by reputation.”

Dr Tom Mengler Mary Cantu Dr. Winston Erevelles
St. Mary’s University President Tom Mengler, Mary Elizabeth Cantu, Dr. Winston Ervelles

This year’s conference theme was “stewardship in science” which invoked this quote by Pope Francis, “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing and it human roots, concerns and affect us all.” President Mengler prefaced the award presentation by describing the work of spare parts as dedicated to “…community education and creativity, green-style.”

“Imagine being asked to promote the arts without any resources, which was my situation several years ago,” Cantú explaining the beginning of the spare parts. “After some research and meeting a local business owner, I realized there were tons of free materials and supplies out there for creative opportunities. These materials were no longer needed but too valuable to be thrown away. I went to this business who filled my car with all sorts of cool stuff and they asked me to come back with a U-Haul.”

annual teacher materials giveaway
2015 Annual Fine Arts Fair and Teacher Giveaway at Wonderland of the Americas

The annual material giveaway for teachers was born, when Cantú realized she could divert perfectly amazing materials from the landfill and put these supplies in the hands of teachers who could use them in their art, science, math and history curriculum. Because, a class lesson is so much more interesting when it’s not taught with worksheet after worksheet.

spare parts award workshopAfter the presentation, students attended a workshop where Cantú detailed various spare parts  projects. “Truth is: there is no such thing as throwing something away,” she said, challenging the students to give a second and even third look before tossing stuff in that trash can. Students were asked to decorate a sign reminding them that “Trash is the failure of imagination (Aaron Kramer).” All materials used in spare parts workshops and projects are donated ‘leftovers’ from businesses and individuals.

spare parts award workshop group

 

spare parts various projects include community outreach workshops with arts organizations such as the McNay and Southwest School of Art, Bexar County Juvenile Detention Center and many different schools and educator groups. spare parts hands-on art tables pop up at many San Antonio City events where children and adults enjoy participating in a creative reuse art project or viewing the MINI ART MUSEUM.

spart parts award workshop poster

Upcoming spare parts events include participation in the following events:

Saturday, March 5, 2016, 27th Annual Earthwise Living Day at Leon Valley Community and Conference Center

Saturday, March 5, 7 PM – 9 PM, Opening Reception & Performance: MINI ART MUSEUM:”That Thing on the Side of the Road, Period Modern Gallery

Friday, March 25, 2016, 6 pm, Closing Reception: That Thing on the Side of the Road, ChrisPark

Saturday, March 26, 2016, Mini Maker Faire at the San Antonio Public Library

Saturday, April 2, 2016, San Antonio Book Festival at the San Antonio Library

Friday, April 15, 2016, Bohnam Academy Spring Art Festival

Interested in volunteering? Please contact sparepartstudio@gmail.com for details.

Photos by Laura Carter.

Moving Painting—the art of the swing

Imagine lying on your belly in a big fabric swing, kind of like swinging like Batman as a kid. With a non-traditional painting utensil—think silk flowers, squishy ball, hand broom, even a flip flop rubber sandal—dipped in paint. Your educator/facilitator gently pushes you over across an area of canvases collected from thrift stores to freely apply marks. Slinging, flinging, dribbling and dabbing—you’re creating a masterpiece like no other.

sacurrentMOVINGPAINTING_begin

Moving Painting is a cross-disciplinary performance and visual art experience designed by spare parts which debuted at the contemporary arts showcase event Luminaria 2015.  “The concept for Moving Painting percolated in my thoughts for some time before finally sharing it earlier this year with Gabriela Santiago and Roberta Hassele,” said Mary Cantú, Founder and Director of spare parts. “I was hesitant to talk about it because it was a wacky idea and wasn’t sure it would be accepted.”

sacurrentMOVINGPAINTING__But spare parts advisory board members Santiago and Carla Berryman (who helped write the proposal) have no problem with not only accepting, but embracing, the non-traditional art experience. Currently serving as Director/Co-Chair Contemporary Art Month San Antonio, Hassele joined the team to  bring her considerable experience and talents to the project. The result is the creation of a unique, free-form artistic experience which speaks to children and adults alike.

It challenges participants, as well as audience to rethink artistic expression.

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Captured comments from Moving Painting participants.

Luminaria looked at the proposal and noticed our performance needed to hang from a secure structure. Initial plans included the installation of scaffolding. Fortunately, CrossFit Mind Body Soul, a business on this year’s Luminaria footprint, was open to hosting Moving Painting. “Our experience was very positive with Andrew Lilly and the entire CrossFit staff, “states Cantú. Lilly described Moving Painting as “unique because you’re constantly moving around the paintings seeing everything from a different angle/perspective instead just staring at it straight up and down as it sits still in front of you.”

Kinetic, creative, interactive, colorful, wacky and fun

It’s nostalgic; it reminds people of swinging on the playground. It’s open ended: you can paint as much or as little as you want; you can experiment with colors and mark making.

“I would love to see Moving Painting installed in the middle of huge closed arena like the Alamodome; at The DoSeum, out in a grand public place like Market Square; at a venue such as Brick at Blue Star,” said Hassele. “Or, at parks, birthday parties, in museums, back at Crossfit MBS, team-building events for businesses/organizations, in your backyard, Fiesta, Siclovia, and Chalk It Up (replace paint for chalk),” added Cantú. “There are endless possibilities.”

Nina Hassele (l) & Mary Cantu (r)
Roberta Hassele (l) & Mary Cantu (r)

Good news! The Moving Painting experience is for hire. If you are interested in the bringing this unique fun to your next event. Contact sparepartstudio@gmail.com.

Luminaria: Established in 2008, Luminaria is a contemporary arts festival unique to San Antonio. The two-night event is a celebration of the arts presenting new works by performance, literary and visual artists.