Wednesday, March 20, 2013

FACES / a children's arts collaborative

                                                                                                                                                  © 2013 franciscrisafio                                                                    

FACES / A Children’s Art Collaborative is an after-school arts program that has offered arts curriculum in the Manchester neighborhood of Pittsburgh since 2003. Meda Rago and Francis Crisafio have worked with over 500 children, mainly in the second to sixth grade age range. Initially funded by the Manchester Citizen’s Corporation with   Collin Kelly, the program is now generously funded and sponsored by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Keith Kondrich and Darlene Collier from the Society have been instrumental in sustaining the program. 
The classes are built around the concept of self-portraiture as it relates to identity.  The students begin with a pencil drawing based on a photo portrait Francis makes of each student. From the photo Meda and Francis instruct each student in making a contour line drawing. The line drawing is the foundation upon which the students then learn how to create a self-portrait collage from cut out textures and images from recycled magazines.

Along the way of this process students encounter issues of identity, gender, class and race through the artistic metaphors of form and color. The final pieces are made into inkjet transfers ironed onto a T-shirt for each child. The students each receive their shirt which they wear and take home as an outcome of their work.

At the end of the school year FACES hosts a exhibition/reception for the students, family, teachers, and community where a copy of the T's are displayed. For the past several years we have been fortunate to have our reception and display at the Northside Carnegie Library. 

Occasionally, FACES has offered bookmaking classes where students explore autobiographical writing along with photographic explorations.  We hope to offer this class on a more regular basis in the near future.

Meda Rago & Francis Crisafio partnered and founded FACES in 2003.  Both are working artists.