Students at the Francis Perkins Academy (FPA) became stars of the art world for a day, at the school’s first ever Night of the Arts – Tuesday night, at which their artwork was showcased at the Bedford Avenue school.
Tuesday’s festivities were the latest step in the school’s push to change its image and create a curriculum more influenced and reliant on music and arts – utilizing the resources most widely available in North Brooklyn.
“We wanted to reverse negative stereotypes about the school and we wanted to get community artists involved with what we’re doing here,” said Melissa Hunter Gurney, the Lead Teacher at the school who is spearheading the development of the arts and media focused program at the school. “We want people to come in, explore, and see what we do, and see the positive changes.”
The show kicked off with a traditional exhibition, with the third floor of the school set up to look like a gallery with the works of about 60 students being displayed for the show.
This was followed by an art battle – a common art school traditional, where a group of students face off in an art competition, with each interpreting the same work of art, putting their own unique take on it. The winner was chosen by audience vote.
The Night of the Arts also gave the school a chance to showcase its first foray into filmmaking and digital media. Students presented short films, 5-7 minutes in length, which they created in collaboration with facilitators from the Ghetto Film School. The films largely dealt with issues of peer pressure and love.
The show concluded with a silent auction at which student artwork sold for anywhere from $50-$100 per piece.
The event was one of the first times FPA opened itself up to the community since its transformation. The event also gave neighborhood middle-schoolers a feel of what it would be like to attend high school at FPA.
FPA continues to seek support and collaborate with local artists and community arts and media organizations. Those interested in establishing programs with the school should contact Melissa Gurney at firstname.lastname@example.org.