PITTSFIELD

Gravity and even weightlessness were displayed in art form at the Colonial Theatre Thursday evening.

Eleven students representing Pittsfield and Taconic high schools showed off the final art projects they worked on throughout the semester in one of IS813 Art School's Learning Through Arts after-school enrichment programs.

The program, funded by a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, uses art to engage at-risk youths in reading, writing, mathematics, public speaking and -- especially in this case -- science.

"It's really an all-encompassing program," said Liz Baker, a district coordinator for 21st Century Community Learning Centers. "They can express themselves in dynamic ways."

The classes met two or three times a week, lengthening the students' school days by about two hours. After the regular school day, participants would then sit in a 45-minute enrichment period to work on homework before attending the art classes. Students could also pick from other classes such as drama, knitting, karate or hip-hop dance.

"Within them, there are academic components," Baker said. "We asked them what they wanted, and they said more movement."

IS183 operates on "constantly revolving curricula," according to Executive Director Hope Sullivan, but she said the complexity that goes into both art and physics made for a "very easy marriage" between the topics.

"We wanted something to spark the students' curiosity," Sullivan said.


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"The concept of weight and gravity is easy to access, but there's much more complexity to it."

Art on display Thursday included clay molds for marbles to roll down, paintings that were decorated using ketchup bottles instead of paintbrushes, stop-motion videos and suspended plastic molds -- all incorporate the theory of gravity, or lack thereof.

"It wasn't as in-depth as a science class at the beginning, but it was in-depth into the art aspect," said Molly Murphy, a sophomore at Taconic High School. Her wheelchair was incorporated into a piece of art hanging on the Colonial Theatre walls, where Photoshop was used to make it look as if people were floating in the clouds. Three of the 11 students there represented Taconic High School.

The atmosphere grew tense when Pittsfield High School senior Emily Tynan placed an egg atop a tower made only of colorful straws and masking tape called "The Egg Tower." It worked.

"It represents gravity," Tynan explained afterward. "Without gravity, I don't think we'd be able to stand up."

The after-school classes were taught by Lucie Castaldo at Pittsfield High School, and Yura Adams at Taconic High School.

"They just jumped right into everything with enthusiasm," Adams said of her students.

Castaldo students "would come up with amazing ideas," she said.

"That's the cool thing about art -- it levels the playing field for everyone," Castaldo said.

To reach Adam Poulisse:
(413) 496-6214,
or apoulisse@berkshireeagle.com.
On Twitter: @BE_Poulisse