Schools Familiar and New: In-Person Arab Arts Instruction this Fall

Posted On:
05 January, 2022
Digital Education, News, Past Events, School PartnershipsTeaching

This fall, Al-Bustan’s After-School Arab Arts program served 127 students in 13 schools across the Philadelphia School District in-person and remotely. Returning to classrooms for the first time since the spring of 2020, our program is attended by returning and new students at John Moffet Elementary and Juniata Park Academy, as well as students from Samuel Powel, Science Leadership Academy Middle School, and Stephen Girard Elementary. In addition to expanding the reach of our After-School Arab Arts program in-person, we continued to offer remote visual arts instruction to students from eight schools, all of whom were returning students from our remote program in 2020-2021. 

Each week, teaching artists Hafez Kotain and Lisa Volta created innovative lessons in drumming and visual arts to share the artistic and musical traditions of the Arabic-speaking World with students in our city.  

In Art with Ms.Lisa, students delved into art projects inspired by Arab artists Mounir Fatmi, Ammar Khammash, and Manal Aldowayan. Moroccan artist Fatmi works with materials that are outdated and rendered “useless” such as VHS tapes and typewrites. Our students used Mylar, a plasticky, transparent material used in architectural renderings in the past to create collaborative drawings through layering sheets on top of each other’s drawings and continuing lines in sharpies and oil pastels. Students drew shapes and lines with Khammash’s musical compositions, created entirely with Jordan’s desert rocks, playing in the background. And in the final weeks of the program, students learned about negative space, creating desert flowers—sand crystals—using their eraser as the utensil on shaded-in papers. 

With Mr.Hafez, students went from learning the basics of the doumbek, from its many names to how it is held and cared for, to combining rhythms like Shaftatelli and Malfouf and even composing on their own! Through practice, many of our students committed compositions to memory, and our drumming students at Moffet Elementary had the opportunity to perform for their families at their holiday showcase.  

Alf shukr to the William Penn Foundation and Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation for supporting Al-Bustan’s after-school program in fall 2021. We also want to thank our teaching artists, school partners, and students for being a part of our community this year and look forward to seeing them again in the New Year!