El Puente Arts | Integrated Arts Project

Portraits of Power, 2013
As a visual element in the 2013 Carnaval del Santo Legado/The Carnival of Saint Legacy students reenact historical paintings with themselves in positions of power. Some of these photos were printed life-size for dramatic effect. The photo above is titled: Ford Crossing the East River and is modeled after Washington Crossing the Delaware
El Puente's Integrated Arts Projects (IAPs) are in-school and out-of-school arts-based projects that engage students in dynamic, in-depth learning processes around a central theme, vision, or community issue.  The IAP model is facilitated by a Design Team comprised of academic facilitators/teachers, administrators, and students from our three partner schools in District 14 in Williamsburg (El Puente Academy for Peace & Justice, MS 50, and PS 84), along with El Puente teaching artists/arts administrators & members of community/cultural organizations.  Together, they develop a central theme from which arts/academic faculty and El Puente teaching artists develop integrated lesson plans focused on mastery through sequentially developed skill-building activities, 1-on-1 mentoring and community-driven projects that are aligned with New York State and City learning standards for the arts.  A major goal of the IAP is to extend learning beyond the traditional curriculum & into students’ home & community lives.  This is achieved primarily through the integration of culturally relevant arts instruction with a unit of the existing academic curriculum. 
Through Hablamos Arte ("We Speak Art") we have expanded our model of arts integration to include support for English Language Learning students through a focus on language acquisition skills, cultural identity and community development.  Based on research from the 2013-2014 school year, we have seen outcomes in: Increased efficacy in expression (verbal, written, & artistic); increased language skills (both second language & home language), increased proficiency in Academic language and arts vocabulary; increased/diverse skills in communicating understanding of academic learning; increased critical thinking skills & support in transitioning between grade levels and schools. With Hablamos Arte, the arts experience affirms home language and culture and provides building blocks to learning and building confidence in English.
“I felt great. I was more confident than I ever was. At first I was nervous than it just got away. I just started getting up and up with my confidence and I did it. I accomplished my goal.”
– Yoskar, 6th grade ELL student at MS 50, reflecting on his experience performing for the ‘Hablamos Arte’ IAP.
      “I thought it was easy in the beginning, but then I found out how difficult it was because you had to read it and pronounce it like if you were talking to somebody. That’s more difficult than it seems, because when you’re reading a story you’re not thinking about – it has to sound like I’m talking to somebody – you’re just reading it. But when you try to read it fluent and like – with a loud voice, and you’re trying to understand stuff so people, to make people understand what you are’s really difficult when you actually try it.”
– Cody, 6th grade ELL student at MS 50, reflecting on the experience of memorizing lines and performing for the ‘Hablamos Arte’ IAP.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, 2014
Adapted from the play by August Wilson and part of a multi-year investigation of Wilson's Century Cycle

Alice in Candyland, 2007

A year-long investigation into the growing rates of obesity and diabetes that are disproportionately affecting poor black and Latino communities. The performance integrated the Los Muralistas mural, "Bushwhacked," with imagery generated in a freshman science class that looked at the Bush administration's environmental record. In addition to the mural, the students created the first community garden plots in the Espiritu Tierra garden and invited passers by to claim plots.


Garment Project, 1996

A year long investigation that included interviews with Dominican and Brooklyn based sweatshop workers and investigations into working conditions in sweatshops locally and globally as well as how fashion and advertising create a culture based on materialism and unhealthy perceptions of body image.