Townwide Youth Concert Adds Chinese Art

Tonight is the townwide Youth Concert. The annual cross-cultural, collaborative event involves every school’s music department, plus teachers in departments like world language.

This year’s focus is on China. It’s part of the school district’s global initiative project.

Which means there is plenty of opportunity for visual arts too.

Beginning last year, Westport Public Art Collections’ exhibition — “Ties that Bind: Yangzhou and Westport” was displayed in every town elementary school.

The exhibit features ink landscape paintings by a pair of Chinese artists, donated to Westport in 2005 by our sister city. It also includes photos by famed local photographer Larry Silver, who first visited Yangzhou with a town delegation in 1996.

The Chinese government invited him back 3 years later. Both times, Silver took hundreds of black and white photos of the people and places he saw. A little more than 2 decades later, that way of life is very much changed.

Viewing, discussing and doing classroom projects with that artwork has been a great way for students to learn about China, before the youth concert.

Using WestPAC art to teach about China.

Dr. Ive Covaci, an Asian art scholar, adjunct professor at Fairfield University and WestPAC education chair, led professional development sessions with K-12 art teachers.

Then, elementary school students explored — via discussions and projects — the millenniums-old art of Chinese painting. They also compared the painters’ mountain landscapes to Silver’s photos of natural scenery.

Coleytown Elementary School students — who practiced writing Chinese characters, using an actual calligraphy brush — shared their activities on the school blog.

Practicing calligraphy in the Westport schools.

The public can see “The Ties That Bind” at tonight’s Youth Concert (7 p.m., Staples High School auditorium). Its tour ends at Town Hall, this spring.

(For more information on the Westport Public Art Collections, email westpac@westportps.org. The next open meeting is Friday, February 7, 9 9 a.m. in Town Hall Room 201.)

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