ABS Thursday Notes- January 19, 2017

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                                       January 19, 2017





How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“Photography means writing with light.” – Diana Greene


Art teacher Elizabeth Gledhill and visiting artist Diana Greene (film maker, writer, photographer) have developed a congenial and mutually inspiring partnership in teaching, after three years of collaboration on complex, integrated middle school projects. This year, Ms. Greene created a new project for eighth graders, which she titled Text + Context. It was inspired in part by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting; an organization which partnered with SECCA to extend outreach to schools with a collection of artistic responses to the news by artists and photojournalists, titled Dispatches. (A free exhibit, at SECCA through February 19)

As is typical of any Diana Greene project, the expectations for students were rigorous. Research, interview preparation, note-taking, map-reading, and synthesis of material were assigned and overseen with care. And as is typical of Ms. Gledhill, the artistic quality and embodiment of the cross-curricular topics in the culminating artwork are rich and beautifully executed. (Also a free exhibit, at the ABS 7th Street building.)

Ms. Greene thinks thoroughly through the line of a project from the standpoint of the student’s experience, delivering teaching through observation and real-world immersion. Her questions encourage the formation of intelligent opinions, and her resources are deeply vetted, varied, and challenging.

The “Multi-Platform Bibliography” provided by Ms. Greene for students’ research included video of T.V. clips, interviews with journalists, documentaries about photographers, and articles about the use of social media, selfies as self-portraits, homelessness in our area, the changes in the local tobacco industry…it’s an impressive collection of information, befitting of a grad student.

Eighth graders were introduced in art class to the work of daring photojournalist Tomas van Houtryve, whose work is featured in the SECCA exhibit. Van Houtryve entered North Korea incognito twice to photograph the region, and has published unparalleled images of several other closed Communist countries. His SECCA work explores the disengaged dangers of drone warfare. Students researched van Houtryve’s award-winning work, learning what drives him, analyzing the composition of his photography, and considering the power of photojournalism.

Next, the students visited SECCA, where they met and interviewed van Houtryve, who was visiting as a guest of the Pulitzer Center project. One student asked “Why are you a journalist?” His answer: “Because I don’t trust what I read in the papers, I want to see it with my own eyes. … My purpose is just to add truthful information and open people’s eyes to things, and make them break down their stereotypes, or learn about things that they didn’t know at all. So, I’m just trying to expand what we know in a way that’s as accurate as possible.” They asked: “Do you have an agenda when you choose a subject?” He replied that if he sets out with an agenda, he will see only the things that support that agenda. “Most of my projects just start with curiosity…but my curiosity is often based on things that trouble me…that’s often the fire that gets me curious, that something’s wrong, something doesn’t seem right.

Back at school, students worked with inventing captions, considering how just a few words positioned next to a van Houtryve photo might guide the viewer’s perception. These exercises met the goal of SECCA’s exhibit, which is designed to encourage viewers to stop, take time, go deep, and consider the news instead of digesting it in rapid sound bites.

The 8th graders reviewed photography basics: wide shot, medium shot, close-up etc. And they examined maps, preparing for a walking field trip around the ABS area, where they would observe and photograph their own environs, visiting the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission, the Cardinal Kimpton Hotel, and Wake Forest Innovation Quarter. I was lucky enough to join the students on this walk.

There were assigned roles for individuals: note-taker, photographer, interviewer, greeter. At each location, there were conversations with a diverse group of people, from a homeless man in recovery, who is working on his certification to be a barber, to Eric Tomlinson, DSc, PhD, chief innovation officer of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and president of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter. At the mission, we saw the rescued groceries that were donated to provide meals, locked doors, and tidy, worn walls and hallways. We visited the 2nd-hand clothing store, where jeans were set aside for homeless teens who spend the nights in the stairwells of their schools. We walked but a few blocks, to enter the sumptuous Cardinal Kimpton Hotel, where a contrasting array of cookies and juice awaited the students, who were taken on the gilded art deco elevator on a tour of the beautiful banquet rooms, meeting halls, and a spectacular game room. From there we walked, surrounded along the way by new construction and builders, to the sleek Innovation Quarter. Students learned about the heroic studies taking place there, to discover cures for dangerous diseases.

Ms. Greene interviewed the students afterward, capturing their reactions to the trip on film. Far from adult-style cynicism, the young people saw it all through receptive innocence. One student explained that all three places have something in common: they all want to help people. The Mission helps homeless people get their lives back together. The hotel helps people who are traveling, providing a nice place to work and rest. And at the Innovation Quarter, they are trying to help people get well.

After reviewing their experiences, the students created two artistic works in response: a personal collage landscape meant to capture a sense of place and reflecting their visits to the locations near the school. According to Ms. Greene, they were “creating visual meaning…mapping their identity in the context of downtown Winston-Salem, inspired by artists who exhibited works in Dispatches.” They also each sat for a vividly lit photographic self-portrait. The portraits are grouped together, around captions students crafted together, to reflect who they are as a community. The works are on exhibition now, on the entry gallery walls at the 7th Street building.


January Jam – Jan. 20th 2:45-4:00pm January Jam form should be turned into prior to the event to your students teacher along with payment. January Jam is for grades 5-8 will go on as scheduled in the 7th Street building. If you have any questions please contact, Ryan Leigh Runyon. (ryanleigh@gmail.com)

Volunteer opportunities available, view link below:






Congratulations to ABS Science Fair Winners!


1st – Declan Cagle


1st grade:

1st – Ollie Cleveland

2nd – Taylor Brown

3rd – Zulay Hairston


2nd grade

1st – Win Greenwood

2nd – Quentin Stitcher

3rd – Addy Greene


3rd grade

1st – Sophia Barnes

2nd – Edmund Ball

3rd – Cassie Maggs


4th grade

1st – Kerith Bell

2nd – Mac Greenwood

3rd – Myla Calhoun


5th grade

1st – 1st -Josie Scott

2nd – Aubri Ivers

3rd – Zion Hairston and Ariyanna Burton (tied)


6th grade

1st – Nico Yohannes

2nd – Jayden Cohen

3rd – Henry Gage


7th grade

1st –  Kendyl Shaughnessy

2nd– Chelsea Ivers

3rd – Jonathan Daw


8th grade

1st –Cait Kinnamon

2nd – Charlie Walker

3rd- Jana Rogers

Student Intent for 2017-2018 School Year

As we prepare for next year’s enrollment lottery (2017–2018), it is important to know how many spaces are available in each grade.  As a current student, your child has priority placement.  We assume that your child is returning unless you let us know otherwise.  If you will not be returning to ABS please email slefever@artsbasedschool.com


Siblings of students also receive priority, but must fill out an enrollment application. You must complete an application for the 2017-18 school year for siblings of current students in order to reserve a space before the lottery.  Deadline for receiving applications is Feb 3 @ 3pm


Winter Gear Drive-Extended until Jan 20

Brr….It is cold outside!  Builders Club is having a Winter Gear Drive until Jan 20!  Bring in new or gently used hats, gloves, scarves, jackets, or ear muffs to donate to the Salvation Army.  These will help homeless adults and children stay warm. We would really appreciate your support.


ABS Garden Work Day

Saturday, January 21,  9:00 am to 1:00 pm

Join your fellow ABS families as we start getting the gardens ready for spring at ABS. It will be here before we know it. What to bring: hats, gloves, tools, kids, water, snacks, extra helpers

RSVP helpful, but not required.
Matt Mayers mlmayers@gmail.com    336-865-1955



Around Town…

On Friday, January 20th, local artists and students from UNC School of the Arts will present Artists Unite, a celebration of dance, music, film, spoken word, and more. The event runs for 3-9 at the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts, and will feature a silent art auction, multiple food trucks, FREE art activities at the Sawtooth School for kids, a drum circle with our own Mr. Bill, the kids’ band Big, Bang, Boom, and some special performances by ABS staff members! Contact Mr. Wilbur at pwilbur@artsbasedschool.com for more details, or visit the event page: https://www.facebook.com/Artists-Unite-843024559133670/  See attached flyer for more details


AUDITIONS for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be held January 31st, beginning at 6:00pm, at Twin City Stage. (Arts Council Theatre.)  The show is being directed by our own drama teacher, Mr. Z and choreographed by ABS 5th grade teacher Ms. Koza! It is afamily show, so parents are encouraged to audition along with their kids. Dancers are also encouraged to audition. More info athttp://twincitystage.org/auditions.html or by liking Twin City Stage on Facebook!