The Visiting Artists program was developed a dozen years ago by a committee of art teachers, administrators and parents with a deep interest in the visual arts and connections in the art world.
It was intended to supplement an already robust art program by exposing children to some aspect of art they may not have experienced, and to provide personal contact with working artists in the community. The group developed an extensive list of prospective visiting artists in a wide variety of media who also have the ability to work effectively with elementary-age students. The list is refreshed annually, keeping in mind possible connections to the overall curriculum. The goal is to ensure that every student has experience with Visiting Artists several times during their MCDS years.
Last May we welcomed Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo to school to work with 2nd, 4th, 5th and 8th grade students who then shared their projects at division assemblies. Lukaza’s work meshes well with our efforts in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). She describes herself as an “artist, activist, arts educator, curator and storyteller” whose personal practice is rooted in identity and storytelling and centers around social justice.
Working with kids at different age levels and using different media, Lukaza encouraged students to take a deep dive into the thread of identity, learning how art can become a safe space for sharing ideas. As a bonus, the faculty and staff were able to participate in an afternoon workshop exploring how we might prioritize marginalized voices and improve our classrooms and workspaces to make them as welcoming as possible for everyone who comes to MCDS.