MPS Hosts “Year of the Arts Kickoff” at Red Arrow Park

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“Art, I believe, can be a powerful force that can truly bring us together.”

– MPS Superintendent, Dr. Darienne Driver

Milwaukee Public Schools hosted its “Year of the Arts Kick-Off” at Red Arrow Park on Thursday afternoon. The district featured the artistic talents of students and guest celebrity artists visiting and instructing students in the district this year. The celebration of arts comes from a 2016 federal initiative to increase quality arts programming in U.S. schools. Four MPS schools were chosen – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Lancaster, William T. Sherman Creative Arts, and Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts. MPS invited the community, “Learn, listen, see and taste how we’re redefining the MPS Experience for students, staff and the Milwaukee community through Year of the Arts!”

This piece was called “Where We Come From.” Students from Lincoln Center of the Arts 8th grade bilingual program worked together to create Keith Haring inspired paintings celebrating their histories and showing how they come together at LCA. The class is led by LCA teacher and MTEA member Jennifer Engel (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

The event featured student artwork performances by the Rufus King Drumline, the Milwaukee High School of the Arts Jazz and Choral Ensemble, student poetry, spoken word, dancing by the Hayes Bilingual group Ballet Folklórico, and appearances and performances from several of this year’s guest celebrity artists.

A student from Stillwaters Collective presented some powerful spoken word (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Poetry from an MPS student (Photo: Joe Brusky.

Students from the Hayes Bilingual Ballet Folklórico perform a beautiful dance routine (Photo: Joe Brusky).

A student from the Hayes Bilingual Ballet Folklórico performs (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Celebrity artists include:

  • Jacqueline Suskin, a poet and writer from Los Angeles (Martin Luther King Jr. School)

L.A. poet/writer Jacqueline Suskin not only attended the kick-off, but also attended and performed at the Sankofa-Sebai Mural Dedication at Dr. MLK, Jr.. Elementary in the evening on Thursday (Photo: Joe Brusky).

  • Johnny Nuñez, a celebrity photographer from New York (Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts)

Celebrity photographer Johnny Nunez recorded his introduction on livestream (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Johnny Nunez also took photos during the event (Photo: Joe Brusky).

  • Speech, a Milwaukee recording artist best known for belonging to the band Arrested Development (Lancaster School)

Todd Thomas, better known by the stage name Speech of Arrested Development is introduced by MPS Superintendent Driver (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Milwaukee recording artist Speech speaks to the gathered crowd (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Speech of the band Arrested Development performed a song (Photo: Joe Brusky).

 

The event commenced with MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver acknowledging the painful past of Red Arrow Park, and inviting Dontre Hamilton’s brothers Nate Hamilton and Dameion Perkins to stand and be recognized for their courageous activism in response to the 2014 police murder of their brother.

MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver greets those in attendance (photo: Joe Brusky).

Dontre Hamilton’s brothers Nate and Dameion are recognized and honored for their activist work to bring their brother’s killer to justice and work for justice in the city of Milwaukee (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Dameion and Nate stand as Supt. Driver introduces them (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Milwaukee World Festival president and CEO Don Smiley was also on hand to, announce the group would host a citywide student art festival on the Summerfest grounds next May. Students and their families will also receive art “passports,” giving them entry to many art venues around the city. It’s exciting to see the cultivation of arts and artists in Milwaukee being given this exciting platform to showcase their work!

Don Smiley, president and CEO of Milwaukee World Festival, announced it would host a citywide student art festival on the Summerfest grounds in May (credit: Joe Brusky).

Milwaukee Public School educators know their students are multi-talented and the Turnaround Arts Program continues to not only showcase our students’ ability, but also enriches and expands our students’ capacity to creatively express themselves in new and different ways. We look forward to seeing the results as the year progresses.

Supt. Driver snaps a selfie during the kick-off (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Students from Dr. MLK, Jr. Elementary enjoy the event (Photo: Joe Brusky).

More student work on display (Photo: Joe Brusky).

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