Posts tagged ‘orlando white’

A Productive Year for Interdisciplinary Arts

Submitted by Katherine Factor, Interdisciplinary Arts Faculty

In a year President Lowman dubbed, “Collaboration, Connection and Creativity,” the Interdisciplinary Arts department naturally embraces the theme, resulting in an array of learning experiences.

Fall semester began with welcoming fifteen new students to the department, a diverse group of freshman and upperclassmen, internationals, and day students with interests ranging from fashion and design, to visual art, contemporary music, creative writing, dance, and theatre.

The beginning Interdisciplinary Mind class discussed different art forms as an introduction to the arts and how they overlap.  Visiting several departments, we engaged in journal work, by responding textually and visually as a critical and creative way to find out what we are thinking. We went to a private viewing of the Visual Arts faculty gallery show and listened to teachers talk about their work. The idea of aesthetics and intention behind art-making was introduced in an experiential way. Students learned to view, to really look and chose a piece to respond to in their journals.

Using Thoreau we continued to discuss the art of paying attention, connecting outside to our beautiful environs. This connection led to considering native identity – who we are and where we come from – and writing Where I am From poems for parents weekend, so that students could explore lineage and the materials that imprint their artistry.

Soon after, students went to hear Navajo poet Orlando White. Then, closer to Halloween, Howard Shangraw from theater came and talked about masks, which we followed up with a study on archetypes. When Visual Arts hosted a theme show on the idea of One Mile, our students contributed work – visual and verbal – in the collaboration. We also visited the dance department with our journals, writing essays to compare and contrast the tech rehearsal and the actual show, so that we could view difference in pre-production and performance.  Abigail Factor, a yoga instructor from Chicago led students through post-Christmas relaxation technique, yoga nidra, or yogic sleep, in which students learned to be gentle on themselves while tapping their creative potential.

Semester’s end also brought on our interdisciplinary artist research projects that included a presentation complete with a creative response inspired by their chosen artist. Using audio-visuals, collage, hand-outs,and art of their own, each student yielded greater in depth knowledge of artists like: Joseph Beuys, Cirque Du Soleil, Blue Man Group, John Lennon, Thom Yorke, William Blake, Bad Religion, and Kazim Ali.

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In fact, Katharina Dieter’s interest in Kazim Ali turned into a grant to work with her poems that will become handmade chapbooks, also featuring her photographs. She read some of her work inspired by him (as well as modeling a fashion student’s hat) at our mixed Media show in February.

Indeed, our IA show celebrated our multi-talented teenagers, displaying photography, comics, textile work, and a performance. The show was a huge success, featuring other readers and songwriters – Emiliy Jimenez, Michaela Gradstein, and Marijose Sapina Perez – and displaying work from various genres. Fashion filled out the room with live models wearing wild and fascinating hats made by fashion students.

Students have worked hard this year, both in adjusting to the rigors of competitive boarding school, and on their own work; and also as pre-professionals, welcoming guest artists and their wisdom.  Several grant opportunities from Arts Enterprise Laboratory, continue to enrich our programming.  We brought alumni Cihan Sesen for a masterclass, Understanding the Comic. And singer-songwriter Courtney Kaiser took a break from touring and her job teaching at the Blue Man school to come to us from Brooklyn. She presented on songwriting techniques, marveling at the work student produced in a short paraphrasing exercise. Courtney continues to mentor multiple students in their songwriting; we can look forward to hearing work from them, as they have the opportunity to record at a local studio. The rest of her visit was filled with rehearsals with jazz drummer Ashi Manoff, who performed with her that night in Rush Hall. His drumbeats kept time as her voice charmed all in the black-box theatre. Fashion student Paul Burgo also received an AEL grant to produce new work.

Spring continues with an all encompassing in class project. Using Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities as text, students have been building off of ideas of memory, emotions, and dreamscapes.   Playwright faculty Abbie Bosworth has used improv to loosen students and help them gain experience in expressing emotions. Stephanie Gilliland from the dance faculty has focused on movement, yoga, and using the body to crate images and expressions. This project continues to focus on an organic process, working together, making mistakes, filming aspects of it, laughing, and discussing ideas. We are currently working on combining elements to produce an in-class show and an installation that will exhibit concurrently with the department’s Spring Fashion Show Friday night April 29th, in IAM Hall.  Sharing our space with Fion Chen, who will be exhibiting her senior show, we invite you to join us this exciting night.

Stay tuned for more from the IA department, where we gladly take cues from other departments also exploring this year’s school theme.  It is a delight to work with colleagues and other students across the disciplines!

April 1, 2011 at 12:19 pm Leave a comment

Words Demand Understanding

Orlando White
CW reading, Friday, October 8th @ 7:30pm
A blog by Emily Roossien, parent of a student at Idyllwild Arts Academy

Not only poets, would-be poets, and creative writers would have enjoyed sitting in on the Creative Writing Reading Series on Friday, October 8th with Dine Poet Orlando White.  Anyone who finds language fascinating in all its manifestations, how it works and doesn’t work, how it confuses and messes with your mind, how its lyrical sounds can soothe, would have enjoyed Mr. White’s explanations and descriptions of his use of language and poetry, in both the Dine and English languages.  I certainly did.

Aided and abetted by his Dine, Navajo heritage, he uniquely expressed his personal need to capture his impressions of the world in brush strokes of words and to share ideas of writing, of poetry with his people.  I found it interesting that his eventual interest in poetry started with a fascination of the black images of letters on the white page, how he saw the early development of letters in their pictogram state, how they would communicate to him and find their way into his poetry.

I learned that because the verb is focal to the Dine language, one cannot say, “There is a man outside.”  Translated into the Dine language, this would have to be something like, “A man dances outside.” The verb brings the language alive.  Inanimate objects become animate.  They live – as in his “i” and “j” poems, which he says came to him in a workshop during a time he was trying to understand relationships.

Another appealing concept that impressed its image upon me is the distinctive way various cultures introduce themselves.  Mr. White illuminated the difference of an introduction of self in the Dine language as opposed to the English.  When someone says, in English, “I am so and so,” the Dine language struggles to translate this concept that is very foreign.   It was my understanding from a strictly English speaking point-of-view,  that everything around that person – the walls, the various objects in the room, the people, the air circulating, everything – acknowledges the person, as part of the greater whole, that is who he/she is.  My mind could only grasp this by thinking of the Sanskrit greeting, Namaste:  “The divine in me recognizes and acknowledges the divine in you.”  It, the great All That Is, recognizes the equality of all, and pays honor to the sacredness of all.

And words demand understanding.


October 16, 2010 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Visiting Poet, Orlando White: Bone Light

The following is a post from Katherine Factor, our Poet in Residence and Interdisciplinary Arts faculty.

Kicking off our Creative Writing Reading Series Friday October 8th at 7:30 in the Parks gallery is Dine poet Orlando White.  The author of Bone Light, (published by Los Angeles based press, Red Hen Press) we welcome a young poet whose book offers a breakthrough look at language use.

I invited Orlando here because I have a strong interest in Native America, one I share with our Idyllwild Arts community and our summer program, so well known for participating in acts of preservation of native arts and crafts. To me, native literature at its best emphasizes value in native wisdom: cyclical thinking, simultaneous narratives/ varying points of view, confrontations with animism and nature, eco-feminism/a reverence for connection, a belief in experiment, a worldview that language is a creative act, and an inherent willingness to equalize space-time, dream and myth.

Such elements offer salient ideas and creative approaches for our students to encounter.  And there is no doubt that the ramification of forced relocation and genocide – resulting in the loss of a people, land, and their varying language systems – offers important comparisons to other sordid histories like the Holocaust or Rwanda. While some native poets approach these issues head-on, exploring issues of life, alcoholism, poverty, or use of Indian humor, Orlando’s work is powerful because it offers constellating approach to post-colonialism – to what it means to be “speaking” today in what poet Joy Harjo calls the enemy’s language – English.

Poems in Bone Light operate separately as forays into a living Alphabet, subtle questions about the act of writing are posited, and these poems are involved largely with strange directions and discovery. Each poem is a bone lighting a fragment of an idea, of language’s purpose, past and present and future. For instance, there are poems that present a love affair between the letter “i” and the letter “j” – the letters are characters!  Yet, together the poems speak to each other, revolve and repeat motifs, acting in tandem to both peel back layers and joint together a strong body of work.

So though Bone Light could be read as a native response to the disparities of language, it can also be read as a transcendent text.  In Orlando’s work, ultimately, I find a shared universal: Language is a double-edged sword (or is it pen?) that contains both inventive magic and difficulty in its attempts to insert itself or apprehend an idea or whole culture. Navigating that edge contains a certain excitement, one our Creative Writers have responded to so far, and we invite you to do the same.

More can be found on Orlando and his poems at:

October 7, 2010 at 3:12 pm Leave a comment

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