VSA arts Awards Fellowships for Teaching Artists with Disabilities

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VSA arts announces its 2009-2010 Teaching Artist Fellows: Kemlyn Tan Bappe of Mount Pleasant, Iowa; Tom Harmon of Terry, Mississippi; Richard Jenkins of Cambridge, Massachusetts; Marquetta Johnson of Decatur, Georgia; and Sharon Leary of Geneseo, New York.

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Through the Teaching Artist Fellowship program, teaching artists bring their creative projects - from comics to quilts, from paintings to ceramics - to classrooms around the country

VSA arts announces its 2009-2010 Teaching Artist Fellows: Kemlyn Tan Bappe of Mount Pleasant, Iowa; Tom Harmon of Terry, Mississippi; Richard Jenkins of Cambridge, Massachusetts; Marquetta Johnson of Decatur, Georgia; and Sharon Leary of Geneseo, New York. The premier fellowship for teaching artists with disabilities in the nation, the award provides networking support for the artists and professional development opportunities, including a week-long intensive workshop in Washington, D.C. from August 10-14.

"Through the Teaching Artist Fellowship program, teaching artists bring their creative projects - from comics to quilts, from paintings to ceramics - to classrooms around the country," remarks VSA arts President Soula Antoniou. "During their fellowships, these five teaching artists have the opportunity to grow as educators, and their students have the opportunity to engage in artistic expression."

These new awardees join a growing cadre of VSA arts Teaching Artist Fellows who are collectively expanding the voice of disability and advancing the nation's educational goals. VSA arts selected the Teaching Artist Fellows for their artistic merit and prior artistic and educational experience.

  • Bappe, a visual artist originally from Singapore, is artistic director for Galleria Imago Dei. In addition to creating batik style paintings, she also teaches workshops with World of Difference, an inter-cultural youth organization. Bappe has dyslexia.
  • Harmon is a multi-media artist who paints in watercolor, acrylics and oils, and who sculpts in clay. For eight years, Harmon, who is deaf, has been the Senior Artist in Residence for the VSA arts of Mississippi Community Art Group, where he teaches a weekly art class for adults with disabilities.
  • Jenkins has published work as a visual artist, cartoonist, and illustrator for a variety of sources - including a teacher's manual, a children's book, graphic novels, and magazines - and he has also exhibited his artwork in regional museums and galleries. Jenkins, who is hearing impaired, has trained educators in arts integration and inclusion.
  • Johnson creates hand-dyed textiles, quilts, and collectibles, and she is highly active in Atlanta community arts programs. Johnson, who is paraplegic, is currently a teaching artist with VSA arts of Georgia.
  • Leary, a potter and teaching artist, specializes in functional high-fired pottery that combines elements of American and Asian ceramic traditions. Her ceramic work provides a creative activity for pain management of her chronic acute migraines, as well as an artistic vehicle for expression. Leary works primarily with elementary school students on arts integrated lessons that animate core academics with motivational arts activities.

VSA arts' Teaching Artist Fellowship program identifies, engages, and supports teaching artists with disabilities in the visual and performing arts. VSA arts recognizes that teaching artists provide the creativity, guidance, and motivation necessary to allow all students, particularly students with disabilities, to achieve high standards. Artists with disabilities also serve as role models to demonstrate the importance of diversity, expression, and inclusive learning in the classroom. The program, now in its third year, is supported in part by the U.S. Department of Education and the Dana Foundation. For more information about the Teaching Artist Fellowship program, please visit http://www.vsarts.org or call (202) 628-2800.

About VSA arts
VSA arts is an international nonprofit organization founded 35 years ago by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to create a society where people with disabilities learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts. VSA arts provides educators, parents, and artists with resources and the tools to support arts programming in schools and communities. VSA arts showcases the accomplishments of artists with disabilities and promotes increased access to the arts for people with disabilities. Each year 7 million people participate in VSA arts programs through a nationwide network of affiliates and in 54 countries around the world. VSA arts is an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. For more information about VSA arts, visit http://www.vsarts.org .

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Laura Broom
VSA arts
202-628-2800 ext. 3883
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