ABS Thursday Notes- September 26, 2019

Thursday Notes                       

Published for the Arts Based School Community                           September 26, 2019



How We Do It and Why

by Mary Siebert 


“Seeing that I am so busily occupied with myself just now, I want to try to paint my self-portrait in writing.”

 – Vincent van Gogh


Self-portraits have been around ever since Narcissus gazed longingly at his own reflection. That ribbon of self-fascination leads all the way to the selfie hurricane of digital self-reporting, from beach snaps to glam-lit headshots. Our judgment of physical beauty is troublesome, skewed, commercial, unforgiving. But a true self-portrait is something different. It tells a story about something more mysterious.


 Self-portraits that fascinate us reveal an honest internal gaze. Whether written, drawn, composed, or danced, the richest self-portraits intentionally overcome the human desire to be “right”,to see what we expect to see or to manage our public persona. If you’ve ever heard a recording of your voice, you’ve probably experienced that initial shock: we don’t sound like we thought or wish we sounded. When making a self-portrait we try to push beyond that initial disappointment and we bravely inquire: who am I really? Perhaps the soul turns inward with curiosity to wonder “What is this vessel in which I’m contained? How am I perceived? What is my nature, and where did it come from?”


From early childhood, we become nearly obsessed with preferences. Working from the outside in, we try to create the person we think would be most interesting or accepted, from fashion to fan clubs. But when we make a self-portrait, we operate less like mini ad agencies and more like paleontologists, digging for our own true selves, honestly making note of what we discover.


Fourth graders are working on a Literacy Through Photography project, also known as “My Inside-Outside Self”, with resident artist Diana Greene. Ms. Greene is a freelance photographer, writer, and documentary film maker whose work appears from galleries to the Pulitzer Center website.  Her 4th grade project has been a favorite annual ABS tradition for about 15 consecutive years. She prepares lessons with uncommon detail and elegance, and has high, crystal clean academic standards. She helps students wield the skills she teaches in writing and photography, scalpel-like, to look inward and share what they find. With continued development, this inward courage could enhance their futures in everything from work to marriage.


This year, I shadowed Ms. Greene on the magical “photo day,” as she traveled about campus with small groups of students who were shooting their pre-planned digital camera self-portraits with partners. Before heading out, she asked them “What are the three angles we are choosing from?” They called it out: horizontal, vertical, and diagonal.  With a playful French accent, she reminded them that they were looking for “The decisive moment,” a quote from the “papa” of photography, Henri Cartier-Bresson, whom she describes as a legend from the pioneering days of photography.

The students are clearly at ease with her; she enjoys each one, urging their best work. She kneels to lean in and share the viewfinder, gently coaching: “OK…get more of the chair in. Oh, I like it! Push! Push! Push! Does she look like she’s playing the violin? Bend down a little bit, can you see her elbow?”


Afterward, I hear the students discussing their experiences. A boy reports “I got one really decisive shot!” A girl reluctantly shows me the photo she’s chosen to use for the art show. It’s dramatic, with beautifully composed angles and contrast, her Mona Lisa smile gazing unexpectedly downward into the lens. She said “It’s the best one. But they’re all bad.” She didn’t appear the way she wanted to. I told her why I loved that picture; its suggestion of a humorous secret, its striking composition. But in the end, she asked for a re-do…something less gritty or surprising, something that looked more like the sweet and familiar face in her mirror. (We are all easily embarrassed by the decisive moment.) It will be interesting to read her written self-portrait and to see the one she will draw and collage in Mr. Schmoyer’s class, all elements of the final art opening. Will she reveal her Mona Lisa self?


SAVE THE DATE! 4th Grade Art Exhibition: My Inside-Outside Self

Each at 12:15 in the ABS Ewing Blackbox Theater, in the MLK building:

October 29, Tues. Ms. Robertson

October 30, Weds. Ms. DeJarnette Blackbox)

October 31, Thurs. Ms. Meeks


Annual Giving!
Our Annual Giving campaign will run throughout the month of October. Please look for information in your Thursday folders next week. As a non-profit charter school, ABS depends upon the generosity of parents, board members, and our community to support the learning and creating that happens here every day. This year, as in years past, our goal is to come as close to 100% participation as possible. Last year, thanks to your generosity, we raised nearly $70,000 in our Annual Giving campaign. These funds support literally every aspect of the ABS experience: instruments and art supplies, visiting artist fees, theater rentals, nutritious lunches for the ABS pantry, subscriptions to educational software, professional development opportunities, and more. Please help us make this another successful year for Annual Giving by making a gift that is meaningful to your family. If you’re ready to give now, visit http://artsbasedschool.com/your-support/
We sincerely appreciate each family’s ongoing support and trust in ABS. Thank you!

6th Grade Iron Pour at Mixxer FREE This Saturday Evening!

Don’t miss the rare and spectacular chance to see an actual iron pour, when our 6th graders’ original molds for cast iron tablets will be laid out in a custom-made crib behind Mixxer Makerspace. At 7:00 p.m. Saturday, September 28, cap off your Fall Fest day. A crucible of molten iron will send dramatic sparks into the air as it fills the molds. Join this public celebration free, to stand safely on the grassy hill and see the experts demonstrate the iron age right before your eyes! Mixxer is directly across MLK Drive from ABS.


Special thanks to Bill and Laura Stevens for gifting the school with fresh repairs on our fleet of guitars. Now Mrs. B. can rock & roll with students!


Parent Social- This Friday, September 27th

Head over to WiseMan after school Friday  to connect with other parents and caregivers.  Everyone is welcome! Snacks & Games for kids.Drop by from 3-5! 


Fall Festival- This Saturday, September 28th

Time to get excited for family fun at the ABS Enchanted Forest Fall Fest on Saturday, September 28th from 12:00 to 3:00.  It will held at the 7th Street building and courtyard, and festive attire is welcome! BOTH BOOK FAIRS WILL BE OPEN!  We still  could use a few more volunteer (DJ or fortune teller anyone?) Sign up here:  Fall Festival at Arts Based School

Any questions? Email Meagan Robinson  (meaganlark11@gmail.com


ABS Book Fair

It’s Scholastic Book Fair time!

Both Fairs will be open during Fall Fest on Saturday 12-3pm.

  •         Saturday is the LAST day to shop the 7th Street Fair and the FIRST day to shop the MLK fair.  It’s worth the walk up the hill to shop MLK’s opening day selections!
  •         Visit us for a chance to win a free book- we will be raffling off books at both fairs!


MLK Book Fair will be open all next week (M-F 8am-3:30pm)


Please visit the links below to volunteer, sign up for E-Wallet account*, see fair schedule, view book fair flyer, or shop our online book fair

*Set up an E-wallet account so your student can shop the Fair cash-free.  If you have multiple children, you must create a separate account for each child, be sure to use the correct fair link.

Every purchase you make at the book fairs earns money towards new books for ALL CLASSROOM libraries and BOTH SCHOOL LIBRARIES! More than half of all dollars spent at the book fairs goes directly to purchase books for the school!


Children’s Book Drive to help fellow North Carolinians!

Builders Club Book Drive September 23-28 (School aged children’s books)

Many schools in eastern North Carolina are still working hard to rebuild their libraries after Hurricane Florence last year and recently, Hurricane Dorian. We have paired with a Kiwanis group in Eastern NC to help stock local school libraries. Please donate new or gently used books to our Builders Club Bookdrive. Donation bins are located in Ms. Gledhill’s art room and are available for dropoff through Fallfest. Thank you!


Around town: 

Little Theatre’s Matilda Features ABS Students in Starring Roles

6th Grader Alora Engel plays the role of “Matilda”, in Matilda: the Musical with the The Little Theatre of Winston-Salem. The excellent supporting cast features ABS student Nick Kelley and ABS alumnus Alex Nunley. Performances are at the new Reynolds Place theater in the Rhoades Center, on September 26-29, and October 3-6. Tickets are $25, seniors and students are $23.


This Friday, September 27 at 7:30 p.m. Wake Forest University presents a free guest artist concert with the famous baroque violinist, Ingrid Matthews, in an all-Bach concert with harpsichordist Peter Kairoff and violinist Jacqui Currasco. At the Kulynych Auditorium in Porter Byrum Welcome Hall on the WFU campus.


Another free and unique event at WFU: “From the Ground Up,” a unique outdoor dance performance incorporating facilities and campus services personnel, with lawn mowers and trucks choreographed into the experience. October 3, 4, and 5 Hearn Plaza at 7:00, limited bleacher seating.