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Violinist Kristin Qian '14 performing Sunday, Feb 16

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Celebrated musician Kristin Qian will solo with the Portland Youth Conservatory Orchestra, performing Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.

The concert is at 4 p.m. at the Skyview Concert Hall in Vancouver, Washington.

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Junior Valerie Ding and senior Kristin Qian among 11 winners in the Van Buren Concerto Competition

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Brava!

Niel DePonte, artistic director and conductor of the Young Artists Debut! Concert, announced the 2014 winners of the annual Van Buren Concerto Competition. The 11 soloists were selected from 28 semifinalists. Winners will perform with DePonte and an orchestra drawn from the ranks of the Oregon Symphony and Oregon Ballet Theatre orchestras on Tuesday, April 1, at 7:30 p.m. at the Newmark Theatre. 

Both Valerie and Kristin are three-time winners of the Young Artists Debut! Competition.

Valerie will perform the first movement of St. Saens’ Piano Concerto No. 2. Kristin will join two others in performing the first movement of Bach's Triple Violin Concerto in D Major. 

Creative Arts Center Opens With a Splash

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From the Winter 2014 Caller

The new Creative Arts Center opened officially in September with a celebration for the entire Catlin Gabel community. Alumni, students, parents, faculty-staff, and more came together to admire the beautiful new creative space and explore all its dimensions. The evening was capped by energetic student performances in the flexible black box theater, from Broadway song-and-dance numbers to classical violin music. Middle and Upper School students and teachers report that they are still thrilled every time they walk into this building and excited by the prospects it offers for collaboration.

"The Tempest" photo gallery

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Thank you to Thomas Newlands '14 for the photos.

Shakespeare's  "The Tempest," performed by Middle and Upper School students, was the inaugural play in the Creative Arts Center's black box theater.

Students part of citywide Shakespeare collaboration with “The Tempest”

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Catlin Gabel Middle and Upper School students are taking part in Portland Playhouse’s Fall Festival of Shakespeare, a series of plays produced by eight area high schools and two middle schools. The plays will be performed first at each individual school, and then all schools will bring their plays to Portland’s Winningstad Theatre on November 2 and 3.
 
The Catlin Gabel cast will perform Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” on Friday, October 25, and Saturday, October 26, at 7 p.m. in the black box theater in Catlin Gabel’s Creative Arts Center. They will perform again at the Winningstad Theatre on Saturday, November 2, at 2 p.m. Tickets for the Catlin Gabel performances are available at the door: $9 general admission, $7 for students and seniors. Tickets for the Winningstad performance are available online through Portland’5 Ticketing. Tickets are $15, with a $7.95 fee per transaction.
 
“The Tempest” is the first mainstage production in Catlin Gabel’s new black box theater. The building was designed to bring Middle and Upper School students together, and they have collaborated on every aspect of the production. Students designed the set, costumes, makeup, lighting, publicity materials, sound, and music. The Catlin Gabel rock band will accompany the play with both originals and covers. See the video below for a preview of the play.
 
“The process has been so deeply driven by our students,” said Upper School theater teacher Elizabeth Gibbs. “A lot of what you see will come from their minds and imaginations.”
 
“Our students have built a creative community between Middle and Upper School students, as well as with students from other schools,” said Middle School drama teacher Deirdre Atkinson. “Our students’ insatiable curiosity and infectious enthusiasm has inspired the adults who have helped shape what they create. In turn, we teachers have collaborated with our peers at the other schools to read and engage with Shakepeare’s texts.” Both Elizabeth and Deirdre trained last summer with Shakespeare and Company, funded by a summer innovation grant from the school.
 
Deirdre and Elizabeth chose “The Tempest” because its compelling roles would be inviting to a wide variety of students and audiences, and they accepted all students who were interested. Deirdre remarked on the relationship between “The Tempest” and the new Creative Arts Center: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on. . . . How wonderful to reflect on Prospero’s words as we gather together in our beautiful theatre in the Creative Arts Center. In the theatre, so many people—actors, designers, dancers, and musicians—come together to bring a story to life ‘out of thin air.’ The building was once merely a dream; as in the theatre, so many members of the Catlin Gabel community came together to bring the dream to life. It has been a delight to watch our students build creative community while exploring Shakespeare’s text and coming to realize the possibilities of this brilliant new creative space.”
 
From the Portland Playhouse website: The Fall Festival of Shakespeare is a non-competitive region-wide collaboration between Portland Playhouse and area high schools. The Festival is a spectacular theatrical event, in part because student actors connect well to Shakespeare; they understand the passion, the large stakes, and the disaster. High school is not unlike an Elizabethan Tragedy.
 
The students are not only performers in the festival, but a large and vocal component of the audience. They are most active and vibrant theatre patrons you will ever encounter. They “oooh” and “ahhh”; call out “Oh no she didn’t”; scream and laugh. It’s the closest thing we have to how an Elizabethan audience at Shakespeare’s Globe might have reacted. It’s an unforgettable experience for the students involved, and an engaging cultural phenomenon for everyone to witness.
 
The collaborating high schools are Catlin Gabel, Ridgefield, Trillium, Roosevelt, Franklin, Ft. Vancouver, Hockinson, and De La Salle; middle schools taking part are St. Andrew’s and King.
 

Video about Drawing Together Day and installation in Creative Arts Ctr.

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Inspired by former arts faculty members, Drawing Together Day on September 9, 2013, brought back a tradition to campus: a time when people of all ages take time to draw. When the drawings were done, they were assembled into a chandelier-like structure and installed in Catlin Gabel's new Creative Arts Center. Visitors to the building are inspired by the demonstration of creativity, and the school's commitment to the arts. And the students love to find their drawing hanging there!

More Room to Make Art!

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A student's view of the new Creative Arts Center

From the Summer 2013 Caller

 
Every week last year I watched as the new Creative Arts Center evolved from a hole in the ground to a beautiful building I cannot wait to explore. I like to do artwork involving found materials and fashion. This year, I made a dress out of plastic bags, as well as a vest out of pencils in my 3D arts class. Although working in the 3D studio in the science building this year has been great, I look forward to being able to spread out a bit more on larger surfaces. I wanted to bring my dress form and sewing machine into the studio this year while I was working on the pencil vest, but I didn’t think there would be enough space. I am excited for the new facilities, because I think the spacious building will inspire students to bounce around ideas and create.

One aspect of the Creative Arts Center that excites me is that different art types will all be together in one building. This close proximity opens up a chance for crossover between the arts. I got a little taste of what this might be like as the 3D class worked on natural outdoor sculptures inspired by Andy Goldsworthy. We worked with media arts teacher Nance Leonhardt to combine sculpture and photography by photographing our works and keeping the pictures as our final product. Photography and sculpture is just one combination, and I am eager to see how other arts can overlap in the CAC.

 
Art is a fundamental piece of who I am, and I know that other Catlin Gabel students feel the same passion. With all the highway bustle of academics, art for me is a garden pathway urging me to slow down and appreciate.  

New Opportunities for Learning: Charles Walsh, music

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Creating Art Defines Our Souls

From the Summer 2013 Caller

Serendipity. My first year at Catlin Gabel has been amazing, and I am thrilled to return this fall to work in a brand-new arts building. I have been overwhelmed by the welcome and support of the people here. It feels like a home.
 
The story of my path to Catlin Gabel reveals some of the many reasons why I am so happy to be here. My college roommate at Kenyon College in Ohio in the late 1990s was a CG alumnus, Trace Hancock ’96, and from him I endured numerous stories about this wonderful place. I was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and had never been west of the Mississippi, so I really could not picture what would be so great about a school on a farm in Portland, Oregon. But I went west after graduating from Kenyon and found myself in a teaching program at Western Washington University. My mentor, Kate Wayne, also attended Catlin Gabel. At our last meeting together she told me: “If you ever get a chance to look into teaching at Catlin Gabel, I think you would really like it.”
 
When I interviewed at Catlin Gabel last summer I had spent five years in Portland trying to find fulltime employment teaching high school music. I had given up and taken a job in Bellingham, Washington, to teach math, when the Catlin Gabel job opened up. I came to the campus with a sense of destiny, and to discover that a new arts building would be built made things nearly surreal.
 
I worked on the Campaign for Arts Funding that ultimately instituted the Portland citywide arts tax, an awesome statement by this community to support arts when funds are tight. As the victim of cuts in arts funding in public schools, I was heartened to see that the arts are important to people here, and they are willing to give the arts the role I think they deserve. As much as anything we do as humans, I think creating art defines our souls and makes us amazing.
 
This year my colleagues and I will be able to collaborate in the same building and create our curriculums in a more organic way. We’ll have the spaces to serve our students’ needs, in contrast with the situation now, where they must compete for insufficient practice spaces. Arts at Catlin Gabel will move from the periphery to the center. Our students are so talented in so many ways, and it has been exciting to be able to give them the opportunities to shine in music. The new building will be a hub, and I believe it will absolutely blossom the arts programs. Students create thoughtful and beautiful art at the school every day. Now all the arts will be seen as they should, which is a necessity for the entire artistic process. The school is at a turning point, and the new possibilities are as endless as multiple spring sunny days in a row.   

New Opportunities for Learning: Elizabeth Gibbs '04, theater

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Come Together: The new arts building will be a boon for collaboration

From the Summer 2013 Caller

Theater is a collaborative art form. It is not made by a single person alone in a studio: it is forged through personal interaction, group experimentation, and the collective expertise of innumerable individuals. Visual artists conceptualize the setting, costume, and media elements, technical artists wire the electrics and create the lighting and soundscapes, performing artists embody characters and employ their vocal and physical talents to bring a show alive. This variety of artistic talent can be found at Catlin Gabel, both in its students and its faculty, and with the new performing arts center the possibilities for meaningful collaboration will be hugely increased.
 
Arts classrooms are currently spread across the campus, with students trekking from Choir class by the barn, to Acting in the Cabell Center, to 3D Art in the science building. Visual artists are geographically separated from performing artists, and opportunities to hold casual conversations and informally experience each other’s work are therefore reduced. The new arts building will centralize all of these classrooms, bringing the different art forms under one roof. Not only will the students be able to more seamlessly connect their work in media arts to their work in theater and music, but the arts faculty will be more connected to each other and more aware of the possibilities for collaboration and joint exploration.
 
This past year, my Acting II students have each spent time in residency with drama teacher Deirdre Atkinson’s 7th grade class, working as assistant directors and helping mentor these up-and-coming performers. This experiment in cross-divisional learning is a small taste of the possibilities that will become available when Middle and Upper School students are sharing space in the arts building. Middle schoolers will have a clearer picture of what goes on in Upper School art classes, and high schoolers will have the opportunity to share their knowledge and skill with younger students.
 
As I picture the new arts center this year, my ideal is that it will exist as a fertile ground for expansion of ideas and imaginations. I hope that it will provide the opportunity to expand the boundaries of all our disciplines, encompassing new ways to teach art, as well as broadening the possibilities for collaboration between students and faculty. In this beautiful and warm building, I imagine that students will be inspired to create innovative and exciting art, in any and all disciplines.  

New Opportunities for Learning: Chris Mateer, visual arts

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It Just Blew Me Away

From the Summer 2013 Caller

The fact that Catlin Gabel was building a new center for the arts absolutely influenced my decision to join the faculty. Learning that the community was coming together and undertaking such a sizeable expansion for the arts just blew me away. It seemed like it would be a pivotal time, with lots of possibilities. For teachers (and students) these kinds of opportunities are rare, and when they do come along, it is usually once in a lifetime. I feel very fortunate to be a part of it all.
 
I came to Catlin Gabel this past year to teach both 2-D and 3-D art. My 2-D art classes were held in the current art building, behind the Dant House. But since there wasn’t a 3-D studio, the science department offered me a classroom to use. Working there really helped expose art projects and the curriculum to many students. When the new building is complete, the current 2-D art building will become a 3-D art studio. The redesign will bring an assortment of new tools and materials, as well as independent studio spaces for students. I am excited to expand the curricular program in new directions, and am eager to design the studio so students can explore a wealth of materials and processes.
 
In between the Upper and Middle School art studios will be a printmaking shop! By having a designated print shop, we’ll be able to elevate the awareness of just how great making prints can be (and why it is one of my favorite processes).
 
The Creative Arts Center will also bring a much more connected sense of community. I am looking forward to being neighbors with Middle School art teacher Dale Rawls. It will be great for all the students in grades 6 to 12 to see what everyone else is making. That kind of artistic and communal interaction is going to be something very special. Oh, and we’re going to have an art gallery too!
 
Starting this year, the arts programming is going to open up so students can experiment and develop skills in a variety of areas. By having so many different modes of creativity under one roof, students are going to be exposed to so many new ways of thinking and expression. Filmmaking, photography, dance, music, theater, painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and so much more will be happening in and around the building. It is going to be amazing.
 
I want students in the new space to have fun, work hard, learn a lot, and bring their friends and families into the art studios to share the incredible work being made. The more we can connect as a community, come together to participate in creative processes, and develop our modes of self-expression, the better we can all communicate as people in the world and increase inclusivity.  

Creativity—The Commerce of the 21st Century

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From the Summer 2013 Caller

By Nance Leonhardt

When people ask me what my best subject was in school, they don’t expect me to say science. Although I’d always loved making art, when I grew up I’d planned to be a veterinarian or a zoologist. My high school offered an amazing science curriculum that was rich in experiential learning. From raising and training a baby goat in biology to using ballet to explore physics principles, science inspired my imagination.
 
Later when I began studying art intensively in college, it was the scientific aspects of the field, observation and engineering, that drew me down the rabbit hole. Watching chemistry transform the surface of silver gelatin-laced paper, soldering brass and copper fittings, devising a way to project video inside the pouch of a kangaroo—I love the problem-solving that artmaking requires.
 
Arts & Sciences: Blame it on Sputnik
In truth, art and science were inextricably linked for eons (#DaVinci). And yet somewhere between the Renaissance and modern times, the two fields diverged—at least in the United States. The sciences became the bailiwick of tomorrow, and the arts were relegated to an indulgent pastime.
 
I blame it on Sputnik. A lot happened to our country during the period between the industrial revolution and the space race. We outlawed child labor, we created a middle class, we mandated a free public education for all our nation’s children, and our national identity and economic welfare became tied to the outcome of our educational system.
 
In taking that penultimate step, we opened the dialogue about what the goal of our education should be. Late 19thcentury philosopher John Dewey maintained that schools should prepare students for participation in community and society. Curriculum and pedagogy should be emergent in that the school evolves and innovates around the climate of society. Dewey-based schools are often places where art and science coexist symbiotically and still occupy important real estate in the core curricula. Many independent schools, including Catlin Gabel, are deeply informed by Dewey’s original goals.
 
By contrast, public schools latched onto educational psychologist Edward Thorndike’s “law of effect.” A contemporary of Dewey with diametrically opposed views regarding the function of schooling, Thorndike believed skills and concepts must be laid out incrementally and mastered over a prescribed timeframe. Thorndike further posited that the function of schooling should be preparation for the workforce and that people should be trained along vocational tracks. Imagination had no place in Thorndike’s mechanized system—how could innovation be standardized or assessed?
 
STEM, STEAM, and the Teaching of Arts
We’ve all heard of STEM, a movement to improve the teaching of science, technology, engineering, and math. One of the core pieces of STEM philosophy is that 21st-century thinking will best be done by people who can engineer and research problems in order to develop solutions.
 
John Maeda, the president of the Rhode Island School of Design, has been a fervent advocate of converting STEM to STEAM—adding arts into the equation. The central tenets of his argument are that any advance is useless unless it can be communicated, and that flexible thinking, risk taking, and problem solving are essential to any kind of innovation. Those attributes are exactly what is nurtured in a rich and rigorous arts curriculum. In essence, Madea’s argument is that creativity will become the commerce of the 21st century.
 
The mechanics of art production are the methods for expressing ideas. Just as in organic chemistry or calculus, the greater your fluency is with the methods, the more you can bend it to explore ideas and concepts. As a society we have failed to take the fluency and methodology of the arts as seriously as literacy or numeracy. Students have not been given equal time to develop their arts skills so they can feel in command of those skills.
 
Building Skills, Drawing on Creativity
One of our jobs as arts educators is to give students command of the medium, whether that is playing an instrument, working in theater, controlling lenses and apertures in photography, or drawing. With continued scaffolding and building relationships with students, we can help them build skills over time, so that we see kids who can dig deep and explore huge ideas through these mediums.
 
A good arts education will help kids unpack the messaging that the culture gives them about societal norms and values. The work of Matt Junn ’13 is a shining example of that. He learned to render early on, but it took nurturing in the studio to get him to apply those skills to analyze a bigger idea (see his self-portrait at left). He’s now digging into his identity as a Korean American, learning to control and appropriate images to unpack what they mean to him and what is expected of him.
 
Elliot Eisner, a leading researcher in arts education at Stanford, gives strong arguments for the value of arts education that are relevant to our teaching—and the reasons why Catlin Gabel has just built a new Creative Arts Center.
 
• In the arts you can put together your work in an infinite variety of ways. The artist must make sense of these choices.
 
• In the arts, you can head in a direction, but when things happen along the way you have to make judgments to adapt. It can send you in a whole new direction. That’s innovation. It’s where you make a discovery (#breadmoldpenicillin).
 
• How something is said is part and parcel of what it says.
 
• We can experience things in art that go beyond what we can articulate. It helps us live in a bigger place. A recent exhibit at Mercy Corps featured a mural project where the faces of abused women in Rio de Janiero were phototransferred in giant scale on the buildings of the steeply terraced city by French artist JR. The images bore witness to the atrocities faced by women who had been formerly voiceless in that region, and change began to unfold.
 
• The arts are a special form of experience because of the intense engagement of the creator with the work. People think this is all art is, but it is just what makes it unique. The material resists you, and you have to get it to perform a task or deliver a message.
• Art must explore through the constraints of its mediums. If we don’t create possibilities for fluency in the range of mediums, we are preventing ourselves from living fully in the realm of big ideas and being able to solve problems creatively.
 
The Arts are Transformative
Just as babies are born with a scientist’s hunger for inquiry, so too are people are born to be creative. Equipping our students with a rigorous education in the arts teaches them about methodology, purpose, understanding their audience, and communicating that message. We arm them with guitars and hammers, poetry and cameras. We help them give form to ideas, to innovate and to connect. Our students will be the change in the 21st century.
 
Nance Leonhardt is Catlin Gabel’s Upper School media arts teacher and the head of the arts department.  

The Power of Creativity: Catlin Gabel's New Creative Arts Center

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From the Summer 2013 Caller

The new Creative Arts Center will foster interdisciplinary work in the arts and collaboration among disciplines, teachers, and students in grades 6 through 12. We hope that, ultimately, the creative practices engendered in this building lead to innovative thinking in all disciplines, and our students’ ability to make their way in the world in whatever career they choose, armed by the creative thinking habits they’ve honed here.

The space to create

US visual art, US choir,
US media arts, MS drama,
MS music, MS visual art
Current arts square footage: 6,786
CAC square footage: 20,000
 
Creative Arts Center Upper Level
Gallery
Outdoor plaza
Media arts
Theater control room
MS visual arts
US visual arts
Shared print room
3D studio
Art Walk
 
Lower Level
Black box theater (two levels)
Theater tech space
Drama classroom
Instrumental room
Choir room
Music laboratory
Practice rooms
Instrument storage
 

“A truly outstanding school excels in all areas of curriculum. A well-balanced course of study allows students to develop the wide variety of skills needed to succeed once they leave school. A robust arts curriculum is crucial in fostering those creative skills that are increasingly in demand in the 21st century workplace.” —Dan Griffiths, Upper School head
 
“We have often said that we have the teachers, we have the program, but we just have never had the facility to help our children become leaders who can think abstractly and outside the box. Now we will have a first-class building to house this exciting program. It has been a joy to be part of a team that is finally seeing a vision come to life for an amazing school.”—Craig Hartzman, campaign co-chair, parent & donor
 

“It’s only in retrospect that I truly appreciate how definitive my exposure to the arts at Catlin Gabel was for my career and myself. Honing my artistic side made me more explorative, creative, imaginative, and probably a super-spoiled brat.”—Megan Amram ’06, Harvard College graduate & professional comedy writer

 

ARTS CLASSES & SAT SCORES: A POSITIVE LINK

Math teacher Kenny Nguyen and two of his statistics students, Siobhan Furnary ’13 and Lianne Siegel ’13, analyzed data for 422 Upper School students from 2005 to 2013. They found that taking more Upper School arts classes was correlated with higher SAT scores—an expectation of 22 points for every arts class taken.


Did you know?

“John Maeda, the president of the Rhode Island School of Design, has been a fervent advocate of converting STEM to STEAM—adding arts into the equation. The central tenets of his argument are that any advance is useless unless it can be communicated, and that flexible thinking, risk taking, and problem solving are essential to any kind of innovation. Those attributes are exactly what is nurtured in a rich and rigorous arts curriculum. In essence, Maeda’s argument is that creativity will become the commerce of the 21st century.”—Nance Leonhardt, arts department chair  

Video: Creative Arts Center from the Ground Up

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Thank you, Ian McClanan '16 for producing the video. Photos by Kitty Katz and Eric Shawn.

On October 4, 2012, we broke ground on a new Creative Arts Center for Middle and Upper School students. Less than one year later, 6th through 12th grade students started the 2013-14 school year with a brand new facility. » Link to more information about the Creative Arts Center.

Iolanthe photo gallery

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The class of 2017 performed Gilbert and Sullivan's "Iolanthe"

Many thanks to Tom Wynne for the photos!

Four student films named finalists

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Four student films made it to the finals in the International Youth Silent Film Festival. Three cheers for the filmmakers!

You can see the films at the Hollywood Theatre 

Wednesday, May 22, at 7 pm
Tucker Gordon '13 (Fetch)
Sadie Yudkin '14 (Picnic)
Tapwe Sandaine '14 (Jealousy)

Thursday, May 23, at 7 p.m.
Casey Currey-Wilson '13 & Terrance Sun '13 (Top Secret)