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Panel discussion focuses on arts in West Side education

Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013

Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 00:03

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Courtesy of Maureen McCarthy

Local entrepreneurs took part in the Roundtables Voices of Entrepreneurship event in November 2012. The next event includes discussion of a new mural on Grant Street.

 

As a part of Buffalo State’s Year of the City initiative, local artists are looking to connect
the campus with the community at “West Side Roundtables at the Buffalo State Community
Academic Center: Voices of the Arts in Education” from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, at
214 Grant Street. The event will focus on the local connections between the arts, education and
the community.
 
Maureen McCarthy, an associate at the Center for Excellence in Urban Education, was vital in
the planning of this event, which is the third Roundtables event of the school year.
 
“This will be an exciting look at various voices of the arts,” McCarthy said. “Roundtables can
help students invest in and build relationships with members of the community they’re apart of.”
 
The roundtables will be moderated by Michelle Agosto, Supervisor of Curriculum in Art
Education for Buffalo Public Schools.
 
“I’m honored to be the moderator,” Agosto said. “Buffalo State College works so well with the
Buffalo Public Schools and our children at the Community Academic Center. This event is about
artists from all levels, both young and old, working together to make this community amazing.
 
“I’m excited; it’ll be a fun discussion.”
 
The event will also feature a panel discussion with representatives from different parts of the
arts, including people from Buffalo Public Schools, Buffalo State, and community art leaders.
 
The panelists will each discuss their experiences with art, as well as how and why they got
involved with art in the community, along with a question-and-answer session.
 
One of the panelists is Augustina Droze, a renowned public artist and muralist.
 
“I’ll be speaking about my experiences as a working artist,” Droze said. “I’m currently interested
in teaching artists how to make a living and how to get work. Public work is one way.”
 
Meg Dee, director of the Community Academic Center, will open the event and welcome
everyone in attendance, which she hopes will include a lot of Buffalo State students.
 
“The Roundtables will continue to help raise awareness about what’s going on in the Grant
Street Neighborhood and the arts,” Dee said.
 
The panelists’ discussion will be focused on the importance of arts in local education.
 
Annelle Schwarz, a sophomore fine arts major with a concentration in print making, is looking
forward to this event and said that the arts have been very important in her education.
 
“Arts in education are definitely vital to self-exploration, and I really don’t think it’s stressed
enough in our society,” Schwarz said. “Artists pose a question through their works. They also
manage to answer the question while leaving it open for interpretation by the viewer.”
 
Another discussion topic is the Grant Street Global Voice Public Arts Project: Celebrating
the Immigrant and Refugee Experience. This project will celebrate the neighborhood’s active
immigrant population through a number of visual arts projects led by a variety of artists,
educating the community and bringing recognition to the Grant Street corridor.
 
“This is a unique project,” McCarthy said. “It’ll provide the opportunity for Buffalo State
students and the community to connect to the arts in the West Side Neighborhood.”
 
Ultimately, this project will aim for five goals: let the West Side community feel ownership
of the project, help the Grant Street business community develop economically, allow the
community’s artists to collaborate, improve residents’ quality of life, and educate everyone on
the neighborhood’s history and future potential.
 
Droze will speak about the centerpiece of the Global Voice project, “Celebrating the Immigrant
and Refugee Experience- Past and Present,” a four-story mural that will be designed and
completed through active community collaboration with Buffalo Public School children, local
artists and Buffalo State students and faculty.
 
“This project allows for the Buffalo Public School children to be involved, and they are a large
part of the community,” Agosto said.
 
“Lots of our school children are immigrants, and in culmination with [Droze,] the students will
experience the project’s components of arts in the schools and in the community, through their
involvement with the Community Academic Center. This project is a weave of amazing things
from Grant Street.”
 
The mural will represent the variety of immigrant experiences in the West Side community, from
the early 1800s to the present. It will be on a commercial building located at a highly visible
intersection of Grant Street, on the side of Lorigo’s Meating Place off Auburn Avenue.
 
“This new mural will be a great addition,” Droze said. “This is a positive movement, and Buffalo
is getting more and more murals.”
 
“West Side Roundtables at the Buffalo State Community Academic Center: Voices of the Arts in
Education” is free and open to the public.
 
“Students should come see what we’re going and take advantage of the opportunities to get
involved,” Dee said.
 
Colleen Young can be reached by email at young.record@live.com.

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