On Thursday Feb 27, 2020, the Rochester Museum and Science Center (RMSC) will host students from the Rochester City School District (RCSD), grades 3-8, for an immersive experience in African and African-American culture and history. In a program, titled A Journey Through Time in African American History and developed jointly with Dr. Jason Willis, Director of African and African-American Studies at the RCSD, the students will rotate during their visit through 6 sessions, each with a different teaching artist. Each artist, 3 chosen by the RMSC and 3 by the RCSD, will share their particular art, e.g. vocal, instrumental, visual, which represents a particular strand of the African and African American experience. Artists currently planned for Feb 27th include:
- AKOMA, the African-American Women’s Gospel Choir http://akoma.org/
- Bradford Britton, visual artist https://unisunart23.wixsite.com/un1sun
- Yahaya Alhassan, Ghanaian drummer and instrumentalist , who also crafts glass bead necklaces, the proceeds of which support a school he started in Ghana. https://ghanabaafricanbeads.webs.com/
- DJ C-Melz, sound artist https://www.facebook.com/IscProductionz/
- Alfred St. John, Trinidadian steel pan drummer and founder of the Trinidad and Tobago Steelband
- The Baobab Cultural Center https://www.baobabcultural.org/
The goal is for students to learn about each artist and their art: how they came to it, what they try to communicate through it, and the rewards that participating in the arts provides to those who practice them. This is a celebration of the contributions African and African-American have and continue to make to the great American culture, which can be a source of pride for African-American students and an example to all to value their own cultures and to share them with others through the arts.
Background: For several years, the RMSC has hosted Haudenosaunee Days, in which students come to the Science Museum and rotate through a set of sessions with Haudenosaunee artists and storytellers to learn about Haudenosaunee culture and its vibrant and on-going traditions. In November a project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, Learning Local-The National Network for Folkarts in Education held its culminating event at the RMSC. The project matched 8 local artists with local teachers and provided both with professional development on how to have the artists come into school classrooms and share their art and their culture. At least three of the artists practiced arts deeply connected to African and African-American culture, so Harold Clark, Senior Director of STEM Learning & Community, approached them to see if they’d be willing to participate in a Haudenosaunee Day-like event structured around African and African-American culture targeted at students from the Rochester City schools. District Director for African and African-American Studies, Dr. Jason Willis, enthusiastically supported the idea and recruited additional artists and worked with his colleague, Dominic Pickard, to identify the schools and the students to participate.
The first program was successfully held on Feb 10 with 4 artists and about 70 students. Both the RCSD and the RMSC are financially supporting this program, and a grant proposal has been submitted in the hope of hosting the event again next year.
For high-resolution images and additional information, contact Felicia Swartzenberg, Communications Coordinator, RMSC, 585.271.4552 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The mission of the Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC) is to inspire a better future for all through curiosity, exploration, and participation in science, culture, and the natural world. RMSC includes the Science Museum, Strasenburgh Planetarium and Cumming Nature Center. Offering experiences at the Museum with more than 200 interactive exhibits, Planetarium with a 65-foot dome and Nature Center on 900 acres, the RMSC stimulates community interest in exploration. In addition, the more than 1.2 million RMSC collection items tell the story of Rochester’s past including its rich history of innovation and invention. RMSC receives significant funding from Monroe County, where it is one of the top three most visited attractions serving children and families.
For more information about RMSC, visit https://rmsc.org. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.