capeprojects newsletter: Volume I Issue II

Originally published: October 18th, 2021


— Scott Sikkema

Welcome back to the capeprojects newsletter and our first issue for School Year 2021-2022. In this issue we celebrate this year’s group of A/RP (Artist/Researcher Partners) program members. But what is A/RP, and how is it a part of CAPE?

A/RP has its roots in the year 2004. In the 1990s, CAPE was formed as a series of independent clusters, with each cluster usually comprising one to three schools and a number of arts organizations (and some individual teaching artists). The clusters were largely autonomous in how they determined what arts partner worked with what grade level or group of teachers, which could easily change from year to year. 

In 2004, I decided to bring this structure to a close and form a new one for establishing long-term partnerships. This organizing structure would be two-fold: the individual teacher/artist team representing a school, who would submit a formal proposal each year for CAPE support that centered around inquiry questions for art and academic investigation, and a network of teacher/artist teams across schools, who would form a collective identity through their commitment to ongoing professional development together and their commitment to collective public sharing and dialogue. The process of teacher/artist teams writing and submitting a proposal to be judged by CAPE program and research staff still continues, and we refer to the group awarded as the Artist/Researcher Partners, or A/RP, a name selected by the teachers and artists themselves. 

It has been 17 years since the first proposals, and year after year, teachers and artists have gone through this challenging and rewarding process to submit these investigative projects. CAPE has never really publicly announced who has been selected–until now. Mark Diaz, Associate Director of Education, In-School Programs and Exhibitions, leads the A/RP program, with Brandon Phouybanhdyt, Program Coordinator. Mark and Brandon provide for us in this issue an exciting preview of this year’s collective network, key to what CAPE is.

An example of a project from Shannon Fitzpatrick and Jennifer Mannebach from last year.

CAPE A/RP in 2021-2022

— Brandon Phouybanhdyt and Mark A. Diaz

CAPE is honored to announce the collaborating schools taking part in the Artist/Researcher Partners program for the 2021–2022 school year. This year we are excited to work with 44 projects in 25 schools, representing over 22 distinct communities and approximately 1,538 students across Chicago, to expand their investigation of teaching and learning through contemporary arts practices. These schools comprise CAPE’s partners who repeatedly pivoted, experimented, attuned, and counteracted to maintain equilibrium in engaging their students in exploratory projects throughout the evolving classroom spaces of the pandemic. We are thrilled to have these collaborators continue their work with us again.

The long-term partners returning to A/RP are Telpochcalli, Camras, New Sullivan, Bateman, Boone, Murphy, Goudy, Pasteur, Galileo, Murphy, Henry, Taylor, Durkin Park, Haley, and New Sullivan elementary schools.  Ray Graham Training Center, North-Grand, Vaughn Occupational, and Lake View round out the high schools rejoining the arts integration practitioners. After a long hiatus from the A/RP network, we welcome back Waters Elementary. The partners graduating from the 2021 Collaboration Laboratory cohort and joining A/RP are South Shore International College Prep, Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, STEM Magnet Academy, and Dever, Nash, Pirie, and Rogers elementary schools. 

The A/RP partnerships for 2021-2022 have a commonality of potent big ideas and intriguing inquiry questions, many highly relevant to the complex situations we are all navigating. In a project titled, “Creative Revolution Then and Now,” Nash Elementary School team teacher Sylvelia Pittman and teaching artist Jason Roebke will investigate “How can we use creative work to understand and respond to the past and our own place in society?” with their 8th-grade civics class. Sylvelia and Jason write in the proposal, “The students will be studying Black and Latino activism in the 1960’s relating to the first amendment to the US Constitution. The students will respond to iconic works of 1960’s Chicago music, visual art, and poetry with creative work of their own. Last year, we found that the students needed a firmer foundation in strategies for making creative work. In tying their activity to an existing work, we can isolate skills and build student confidence in core skills over the unit. It is also a form of cultural stewardship, as many students are unfamiliar with the artistic heritage of Chicago. We will analyze the music, art, and poetry to dig deeper into their content, composition, meaning, and historical context.”

Pirie Elementary School music teacher Robin DaSilva and CAPE artist Mirza Shams will explore “De-Orchestration” with their students. Their goal is to “get the students to realize that they are artists just by existing. As an artist, they have access to different sound mediums in which to express their creativity through collaborative music making within the context of song writing, arranging and mixing. We also want them to understand that using non-conventional practices of music making and producing is completely limitless and the origin of making music where it is just simply based on personal perspectives. Our initial inquiry question was, ‘What is the relationship between music, rules and building new structures?’ At that time before quarantine, when we started shifting from in-person to virtual, we found that the inquiry question didn’t need to be modified as we were able to navigate our curriculum virtually with alternative accessible virtual tools of music production and audio technology.”

Such A/RP projects show the acute awareness that CAPE teachers, artists, and students have of the shifting understandings and possibilities happening in relation to the constructs and contexts of teaching and learning in this return-to-school period. As Taylor Elementary music teacher Andre Porter and CAPE artist Jessica Mueller ask, looking back on what’s transpired this past school year, “What do we want to keep?”

The Artist/Researchers:

Bateman Elementary 

Samantha Soto and Betsy Zacsek

Priscilla Rowe and Jordan Knecht

Boone Elementary                         

Gustavo Soto and Gwen Terry

Camras Children’s Engineering School                     

Marilyn Baez and Niema Qureshi

Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences                       

Nicole Donnelly and Jillian Gryzlak

Julie Reynolds and Jillian Gryzlak

Mary Rossi and Mirtes Zwierzynski

Dever Elementary School   

Tabita Sherfinski and Sze Lin Pang

Carmen Carteno and Sze Lin Pang

Durkin Park Elementary           

Elizabeth Allen and Niema Qureshi

Galileo Scholastic Academy of Math and Science      

Kathleen Barnes and Sonja Moser

Goudy Technology Academy                 

Patty Whitehouse and Margy Stover

Katy McLean and Margy Stover

Haley Elementary Academy  

Mellisa Kazlauskas and Jessica Mueller

Henry Elementary   

Marybel Cortes and Ayako Kato

Lake View High School              

Joanne Yonan and Gwyneth Zeleny Anderson

Melody Foley and Gwyneth Zeleny Anderson

Murphy Elementary School   

Penny Shultz and Gina Lee Robbins

Michele Sera and Gina Lee Robbins

Sarah Ramirez and Gwyneth Zeleny Anderson

Frank DeJohns and Gwyneth Zeleny Anderson

Nash Fine and Performing Arts Academy      

Sylvelia Pittman and Jason Roebke

New Sullivan Elementary School    

Leticia Pineda and Shenequa Brooks

Tracy Netter and bAnansi Knowbody

North-Grand High School   

Kristina Bowlus and Jennifer Mannebach

Pasteur Elementary School   

Sheila McDermott and Chuck Jones

Arturo Barrera and Chuck Jones

Pirie Fine Arts and Academic Center

Robin DaSilva and Mirza Shams

Ray Graham Training Center High School

Katie Kurisch and Aram Atamian

Irene Kim and Sonja Moser

Katie Jones and Mirtes Zwierzynski

Rogers Fine Arts      

Peter Vroustouris and Ruby Thorkelson

South Shore International College Prep

Jordan Rice and Kyra Lehman

STEM Magnet Academy

Jamie Davis and Liz Chilsen

Maggie Sandoval and Betsy Zacsek

Taylor Elementary School                       

Andre Porter and Jessica Mueller

Dawn Casaday and Sonja Moser

Telpochcalli Elementary School

Elizabeth Pagan and William Estrada

Dana Oesterlin and Timothy Rey

Vaughn Occupational High School     

Shannon Fitzpatrick and Jennifer Mannebach

Beth Ann Edwards-Devine and Timothy Rey

Jeremey Green and Chuck Jones

Laura Smith and Chuck Jones

Waters Elementary School

Amy Vecchioni and Juan Carlos Perez