By Jan C. Nadav, Director of Education and Interpretation
My friend Cheryl masterminds huge conferences and is one of the most remarkable networkers I know. Her common practice is to bring someone to you and say in her chirpy Australian accent: “You MUST meet so and so, you share so much in common!” And off she goes, leaving you standing face to face with a stranger, both trying to ascertain why it is you were brought together. I fell victim to this practice several times, but in each instance her hunch was spot on. Once the connection was made it was clear why she made the introduction. I think of Cheryl when I play “matchmaker” with my guest teaching artists. I employed her well-honed tactic when I brought Adrian Molina together with Barth Quenzer to collaborate on a new camp for Creative Journeys at the Mizel Museum.
Adrian Molina, known as Molina Speaks, is a multi-talented art educator, poet, storyteller, and hip-hop emcee with a background in history and futurism. He has worked on several projects with the Mizel Museum, including Stories Matter, which this year received an award from the NEA, and The Power of Civic Engagement. He has co-produced and self-released a string of groundbreaking projects from hip hop/neo-soul fusion albums to spoken word/jazz collaborations. He has performed at hundreds of events nationwide and regularly visits schools and community organizations. He teaches at the university level in hip hop, media studies and is a lead instructor with Flobots.org.
Barth Quenzer is equally ambitious and expansive as a creative. He is a visual art teacher at Brown International Academy in Denver, and the recent recipient of the 2012 Milken Educator Award, a kind of national “Oscars of teaching” for exceptional educators early in their careers. Barth is also an artist in his own right who draws on mathematics, literature and art history in his abstract work. His visual art ranges from teensy to massive and he currently shows at the Guerrilla Garden.
I knew that bringing these two into conversation about their common passion as art educators, and providing five days to work collaboratively with young people, would yield serious innovation and hoopla. They came up with a joint residency camp called High Octane CreativityLab: Big Lives, Big World, Big Ideas for incoming 3-6 graders. They requested the age group because they love this stage of life! Together they will explore the velocity and power of kids’ ideas and self-expression through a combination of visual art, writing and performance. Kids will engage in innovative projects that encourage them to dive into their creative process, think out-of-the-box, and explore their talents as writers and artists. The camp will culminate in an an experiential performance, designed by the campers, for family and friends.
I can’t wait to see what happens with this substantial, creative combustion of teaching artists and campers. I am sure I will be glad that I made the introduction and got out of their way!
The Life Cycle of a Great Idea with Barth and his students at Brown International: http://vimeo.com/59852298
Art Teacher Barth Quenzer of Denver, CO, winning the Milken Educator Award:
About Molina Speaks: http://www.molinaspeaks.com/
Brown is Beautiful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knnoV2hRRsY