May 19, Bethlehem High School students and teachers premiered a collaborative arts-in-education project featuring the works of almost 300 students. The free public event presented student work created during a month-long arts-in-education residency with Indian classical musicians Veena and Devesh Chandra. This project uniquely featured students and teachers across a broad spectrum of arts, music and history classes working together to create a comprehensive educational experience. The evening was filled with art displays, performances and even food prepared by students.
For the past month, students in the classes of history, music theory, chorus, photography, videography, culinary arts, marketing, drawing and painting have been learning about Indian music and culture. Weekly sessions with the Chandras engaged students in learning about this music and culture from the vantage point of their specific subject. Students then worked with their school teachers to develop and create projects that put this new knowledge into action. The project was the first of its kind in the Capital District and represented extensive efforts at collaboration across subjects. With the current climate of education policy debate, this project was a unique effort both educationally and artistically.
“This is how education should be,” said art teacher George Dirof, whose painting and drawing classes created self-reflective works based on the Chandras' music. The more than 120 Ragamala-inspired drawings and paintings based on "Raag Kafi," a springtime melody, were on display at the performance.
In addition to students using their artwork to synthesize what they have learned, Devesh Chandra hoped they used the process to learn more about themselves.
“Through this project, we hope to foster understanding,"he said. "That is both understanding new cultures and also better understanding one’s self. That self-reflection is the essence of our art.”
This project was made possible in part through an arts-in-education grant, a program funded by the Arts Center of the Capital Region through the New York State Council on the Arts.
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