Aiken Center for the Arts Partners with Local Artist, Writer-in-Residence | New

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Aiken Center for the Arts partners with local artists and the Aiken County Public School District with a grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission to enrich students through artist and author residencies.

Local Artists Walter B. Curry, Jr., Ed.D. and Makenzye Barfield will share history and culture through their respective art forms during 4th and 8th grade residencies where they study South Carolina history. This project is supported by funding provided to the South Carolina Arts Commission through a partnership with the SC Department of Education from the Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds. American Rescue (ARP ESSER).

Engaging with 4th graders, Barfield, a fiber artist, will use visual and folk/traditional arts to bring the process of indigo dying to life. Barfield extends the hand of history through an experiential and historical approach to indigo death. The cultural significance and symbolism associated with indigo will also be incorporated into discussions of indigo history and folklore in South Carolina.

Grade 4 students will learn how indigo was a part of the lives of many different people, from farmers to dyers to those who wore indigo-dyed clothing, and what it symbolized. A project for 4th graders will be a 2-day workshop where Barfield will present the death of indigo through dialogue and hands-on experiences. Working in pairs, students will model the exact process of indigo dyeing that was used in the 18th century and make decisions or test which components could change the outcome, then communicate what they saw with their partner. Variations in patterns and die values ​​will be discussed.

Engaging with 8th graders, Curry, an author, shares real-life ancestral stories in his books, “The Thompson Family: Untold Stories from The Past (1830-1960)” and “The Awakening: The Seawright -Ellison Family Saga, Vol.1, A Narrative History,” which connect to 8th grade South Carolina social studies standards.

Discussions of the stories in her books initiate a conversation about the past to help students shape the stories of their future. Curry speaks of the stories found in his books and engages students by leading them through an exhibit of artifacts and images exploring the lives of his ancestors, showing that history is alive and an important source of connection to our communities. Curry shares his journey to fatherhood alongside the educational enrichment his books provide, as these stories provide real-life examples of the concepts taught in the standards. Through Curry’s commitments, 8th graders will learn SC College and Career-Ready for Design Proficiency Anchor Standard 8: “I can relate design ideas to other artistic disciplines, content areas, and careers.”

Along with sharing his family history, Curry shares his personal journey to fatherhood and encourages students to connect with their own stories as they explore their interests and consider career options.

ACA also provides art experiences for our community’s younger area students enrolled in Aiken Head Start through the Good Morning Art outreach program.

Good Morning Art is a proven immersive program created for children ages 3-4. Children create art projects, experience art visually through gallery visits, dance, listen to music, listen to stories, do group activities and actively participate. Good Morning Art helps prepare children to start school through the socialization and creative skills they gain through the program. The Aiken Center for the Arts is committed to providing creative and expansive arts experiences for all members of our community, regardless of age or ability.

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