Dyett High School’s Bronzefair 2019, Featuring CAPE Student Work

 In Events, News, The CAPE Blog

A New Investment in Pushing Aesthetic Boundaries at Dyett

In July of 2018, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) secured funding for a 21st Community Learning Centers (CCLC) grant for five years of after-school programming at Dyett featuring contemporary and experimental art forms which began in September of 2018. The first completed projects from the program will be featured at Dyett’s upcoming annual Bronzefair Winter Showcase:

  • DATE & TIME: January 23, 2019, 6 to 8pm
  • LOCATION: Dyett High School (555 E 51st St, Chicago, IL 60615)
  • DETAILS: Students, teachers, and artists will be in attendance. Press and public welcome!

“This CAPE after-school art club is a really great opportunity for bringing us out of our comfort zones,” said one Dyett student. “Normally we just stick to drawing and painting, but having the experience with Photoshop and photography and Adobe Illustrator really offered a new opportunity for us. In the future, I’d really like to work more with more with those programs and work more with photography and expand my knowledge of art.”

“The CAPE After School program at Dyett is staffed by dynamic teachers and artists who work on the cutting edge of their professions. They all share a passion for social justice in education, specifically with regards to empowering students through the arts,” said Joseph Spilberg, CAPE After School Project Director. “The projects incorporate experimental, contemporary, and social arts practices and provide avenues for students to explore and redefine their school and community spaces.”

A Diverse and Dynamic Team of Artist/Researchers

As part of CAPE’s aesthetic and pedagogical vision, students in the CAPE After School program at Dyett take on the role of Artist/Researchers, experimenting with physical and digital media to express their inquiries and ideas. All of the classes in the program are co-led by Dyett classroom teachers partnering with professional artists including:

  • Abbéy Odunlami, a Nigerian-American artist working in media, film, and installation mediums and whose work has an emphasis on participatory, social arts practices.
  • Ruslana Lichtzer, an Israeli writer, artist and curator whose work is largely collaborative and often politically charged.
  • Lionel “Brother El” Freeman, a Southside spontaneous composer, and electronic music improviser whose performance practice pushes the boundaries of live digital sound and improvisation.
  • Ernest Whiteman III, a Northern Arapaho filmmaker, whose work includes an adaptation of HAMLET featuring a full cast of Native Americans.
  • Chaniece Holmes, an ensemble member from Red Clay Dance Company specializing in Afro-contemporary, urban contemporary, ballet, and modern dance.

The Dyett + CAPE Partnership

The original Dyett High School was closed in 2015 after a years-long phase out that prompted neighborhood parents to organize a well-publicized protests, including a hunger strike, which garnered nationwide attention.  As a result of these and other efforts, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) reopened Dyett in 2016 as a neighborhood enrollment, arts-focused high school with new staff and leadership. Early numbers suggest a success in the making: In Dyett’s first year open, 20% more students enrolled than expected, 85% of whom came from the surrounding neighborhood. By contrast, in CPS as a whole, fewer than 25% of high school students choose to attend their neighborhood school.

The new Dyett High School for the Arts opened in the fall of 2016 in the Bronzeville/Washington Park area.  Principal Beulah McLoyd has observed that it’s critical now to bring in student voice and presence, since, at the outset of the school’s reopening, “much of the story of the new Dyett thus far has been adult driven.” In response, and in order to meet this challenge, Dyett partnered with CAPE to seek funding for school-wide after school program funding.  Ms Mcloyd sees CAPE’s arts-integrated after-school program, as key to the effort of providing students the opportunity to contribute to the defining the school’s culture.

CAPE After School at Dyett is a continuation of the partnership between CAPE and Dyett that began in 2016. Prior to Dyett’s official reopening in 2016, CAPE staff provided whole-staff professional development on arts-integrated teaching practices. Additionally, CAPE has provided funding for ongoing in-school arts-integrated programs at Dyett since 2017, which involve projects that are co-designed and co-taught by Dyett teachers and CAPE teaching artists.

The CAPE After School program expands the arts-integrated practices that are characteristic of CAPE’s methodology and which have proven effective teaching strategies in multiple previous studies. The Program is funded by a $1.5 million 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant from the Illinois State Board of Education and the federal Department of Education, and will provide free after-school arts programming at Dyett High School and William K. New Sullivan Elementary School in South Chicago.

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