In the fall of 2015, stay-at-home mom, Mia Young decided to enter The Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling (SCHMAS) with her family. She didn’t foresee how the experience would lead to her daughter (Sienna, age 4) gaining confidence and her son (Parker, age 5) discovering the artist inside of himself. But that’s exactly what happened after a family visit led to the children participating in the Sugar Hill Museum Preschool and becoming immersed in The Museum’s visual arts and storytelling programs and exhibitions. We chatted with Young to get the Sugar Hill mom’s perspective on how The Museum can impact families for the better.
This past November, the sights and sounds of Sugar Hill were refracted and synthesized through the Contemporary Electro-acoustic Flute Soundscapes in Urban Scenario program. This performance project featured Yael Acher “KAT” Modiano, an award-winning flutist, composer, and educator creating a dreamlike electro-acoustic sound/noise-art ambiance where she responded to natural light, or the lack thereof. On November 17 she chose the cusp of sunset as her backdrop. Here her flute and electronics engaged with light and sound for a memorable experience. We spoke with “KAT” to learn more about her process, the influence of light, and how Sugar Hill served as her muse.
The Museum’s second artist-in-residence, Derek Fordjour only moved in on October 1. But he is already making a mark through his dexterity with various media such as paint, wood, and newspaper. The Sugar Hill resident (born in Memphis, TN) is also known for his visual references to sports, board and card games, carnivals, and the circus. The motifs serve as a portal to exploring the dynamics of games, both in their literal and metaphorical sense as a representation of everyday lived experiences. In between working on his new pieces and hosting open studio sessions, Fordjour shared with us insight into his creative world. Read on to find out the first work of art he created as a toddler, why he doesn’t play when it comes to the deeper meaning of games, and why he compares oil paint to toothpaste. Imagine that!
Reverend Malika Lee Whitney is out to prove that ropes can not only swing and bind, but they can contribute to personal development, forge greater community bonds and let everyone have a good ol’ time. As the artistic director of Pickney Productions and founder/coach of Double Dutch Dreamz, Whitney has been promoting double dutch for the past 10 years. Made up of 20 core members (with hundreds of others occasionally stepping into its swinging ropes), Double Dutch Dreamz has collaborated with the Apollo Theater, Camp Mariah (as in legendary singer, Mariah Carey), Afropunk Festival and the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling.
Acclaimed author and illustrator, Bryan Collier is family at the Museum. So of course, we were excited to have the chance to speak with him about his celebrated illustrations. In 2013, Collier collaborated with popular poet, Daniel Beaty on the picture book, “Knock, Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me.” The book is a touching and sensitive depiction of a young boy grappling with love, loss, and faith following the disappearance of his father. Complementing the text is Collier’s realistic yet poetic illustrations of everyday life through watercolor and collage. For his work, Collier won the Coretta Scott King 2014 Illustrator Award. We chatted with Collier and discovered how an HBO show inspired the creation of the book, the process of working with a real family as models, the fact that he creates all his illustrations by hand and more. Imagine that!
When I entered the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling I was met with a wide grin and warm embrace by Sandra Garcia-Betancourt, Interim Director of the Sugar Hill Museum. Her authentic greeting reminded me of those that I receive from the women in my own community — mamas, sistas, tías, nanas, and abuelas.
One striking thing about Shrobe’s work is, it’s an assemblage of different materials, a construction of a ship that parallels the making of say, one’s identity. A process that starts during childhood, picks up steam as it responds to history and the everyday, and matures until death. In this sense, “Tight Ship,” is reflective of the ways I sought to understand largely through books, my own identity.
Combine the skills of visual artists with the imagination of children and you just may end up with a roomful of golden crowns or found objects arranged in elaborate configurations. Such are the results to be found in two new exhibitions at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling that each drew inspiration from children.
Traditionally reserved for monarchs, crowns are subverted in the Museum’s newest exhibition, The Crown Futures. Artist Shani Peters, in collaboration with children, has created a site-specific installation meant to celebrate concepts of self-determination. Here, those who wear the crowns are not “royalty” but everyday youth empowered by their own sense of self-worth and commitment to community building.
If there’s anything that can help New York City meets its goal of attracting 67 million annual visitors by 2021, it is arts and cultural events such as the Uptown Arts Stroll. On June 1, the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling hosted the kickoff celebration of the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance’s (NoMAA) 13th annual festival. Among those in attendance was Fred Dixon, president and CEO of New York’s tourism-marketing agency, NYC & Company, who applauded the event’s power to attract tourists.
Baseball caps and books aren’t two things normally associated with each other. But in the imaginative mind of visual artist, Karlos Carcamo they seamlessly work together to create an engaging and educational work of art. In our current exhibition, Txt: art, language, media, Carcamo’s “The Sweet Life” adorns baseball caps with historical passages and images from the Harlem Renaissance to connect the past and present of the Sugar Hill community.
Veronica Santiago Liu recalls being an arts organizer since the age of five or six. But it would be as an adult that she would take on perhaps, her biggest project to date. On June 17, 2011 she opened, Word Up Community Bookshop in an empty storefront located in Washington Heights, New York.
Plastic is everywhere, but have you ever imagined it as a piece of art? Visual artist, Antonia Perez has done just that by crocheting plastic bags to form colorful and delicate works. In our current exhibition, Txt: art, language, media, Perez’s ‘Estas en tu Casa (This is your home),” explores the meaning of home with the one material you can find in virtually any home across the world: plastic. We spoke with Perez and discovered where she collects her plastic bags (hint: she may ask you for a bag if she ever passes your way), the physical challenges of working with almost 1,000 plastic bags and more. Imagine that!
Reflecting on her childhood growing up in the South Bronx in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Sonia Manzano is struck by the fact that she didn’t have access to a children’s museum in her own neighborhood. That’s why taking part in Story Time: Tales on Sugar Hill at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling on April 9 meant so much to the former “Sesame Street” star known to many as her groundbreaking TV character, Maria.
From the time I can remember, libraries have played a huge part in my life. As a child I grew up in Hampton, Virginia. I spent a lot of my time on the campus of what was then Hampton Institute, which is now Hampton University. My father taught civil engineering there and my mom taught English in high school. One of my favorite destinations on campus was the library.
Before the digital revolution there was the Print Revolution. Johannes Gutenberg’s 15th century invention of the printing press and technological advancements made by others helped information spread more rapidly and accurately. Plus it propelled the growth of a wider literate audience.
How do you get children excited about eating vegetables? You start by having them make their own vegetable inspired puppets and participate in a musical. Such is the unorthodox approach taken by playwright, Ave Maria Cross in “VEGGIE BOOGIE!” which was presented at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling on March 12.