DAREarts Montreal Youth Take Action: DAREing to Dream Like Chagall

For eight weeks in Montreal, teens from Vezina, Perspectives and JFK high schools have been gathering for weekly after-school DAREarts workshops  at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA), culminating in a Public Showcase on Sunday, June 11th, 2 pm. Alongside DAREarts Montreal Lead Teacher & Coordinator Deirdre Potash, Teaching Assistant Sebastien Haimet, MMFA Teacher Jacinthe Otis, Beatboxer Malcolm Humes, Spoken Word Artist Why’z Panthera,  and photographer and videographer Emanuele Setticasi, the teens have created together to become empowered young leaders.

Adapted from reports by Teaching Assistant Sebastien Haimet:
Day One:  At the MMFA, Jacinthe toured the DAREarts group through graffiti murals created by artist collective En Masse. Each teen sketched out symbols they saw that resonated with them. Shane shared with his peers, “Art doesn’t always have to be beautiful in the normal sense; sometimes its ugliness makes it beautiful.”  Later in the studio, the teens created their own symbols in plastercine.

Day Two: In their opening circle, the youths discussed the DAREarts value of ‘Discipline’ and how it applies to leadership. The teens talked insightfully about how respect and self-control can help them be excellent!  The MMFA’s Jacinthe then treated the teens to a tour through the special Chagall exhibit, where they explored how he created rhythm and movement in his paintings. The teens were fascinated by the ballet costumes and stained glass works. Matteus shared that he was so impressed that he wanted to see the ballet himself! Returning to the studio, the teens learned a printmaking process and created their own prints.

Day Three: The teens explored the MMFA’s contemporary collection, exploring through art the narrative of oppression faced by First Nations people. Spoken word artist Why’z Panthera inspired the teens to write short poems. Everyone was in awe of the quality of each poem. Taisha’s fearless presentation on her first DAREarts Day, and Vito’s beautifully complex writing. In the closing circle, Ariel shared that spoken word had given her a new way to express herself. All the participants said they plan on sharing this experience with friends, classmates and family.

Day Four: In their opening circle, the teens discussed how they had shared their slam poetry outside of the circle and how they can further share.  In a new wing of the MMFA, they encountered Jacinthe’s favourite self-portraits, including JM Basquiat and Joseph Beuys, revealing the many unorthodox ways that artists can portray themselves.  In the studio, beatboxer Malcolm shared the history of beatboxing and taught a few foundational sounds. Everyone gave it their all, despite an “embarrassing” sound or two!

Day Five: The teens discovered the MMFA’s new pavilion of Impressionist landscapes. Vito, a returning DAREarts teen, shared that even though he did not find the pieces appealing, he appreciated how the paintings were like photographs imbued with emotions.  At the studio, Deirdre taught the teens how to create art by embossing metal sheets.  By the end of the session, the teens shared that they felt DAREarts was a haven to get away from the stresses of regular life.

Day Six: The teens completed the first stage of their photo transfer pieces, ensuring that they covered for anyone who was absent. Then the teens started combining their spoken word pieces with beatboxing, with Why’z and Malcolm’s help.  With the showcase just a few weeks away, the teens started to see how their final creations would look and sound.  During breaks, many opened up and shared their life experiences and the challenges they face.

Day Seven: Deirdre welcomed the teens to the studio with homemade pizza and Banana bread!  While creating their photo transfer artwork, the teens’ discussions ranged from music to politics. It was clear how comfortable they had become around each other and our teaching team.  By the end of the session, many of the teens had come out of their bubble of shyness, which we hope they will continue to do both at DAREarts and in their everyday lives.

Day Eight: With their public showcase just around the corner, the teens all worked hard to finish up their varied artworks for Sunday’s display. I wish you could witness the ambience; the sound of relaxation, creativity all taking place in a safe environment.

DAREarts is grateful to all its supporters including National Supporter: Northbridge Insurance; Lead Supporters: Anne Livingston, Scotiabank, TD Bank Group and Bank of America Merrill Lynch; and Education Partner: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Leave a Comment