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La Escuela Fratney Students Celebrate “A Sense of Place”

At La Escuela Fratney even the gymnasium and hall corridors have been turned into classrooms, and students and staff are confronted with space issues on a daily basis. As part of a unique multi-disciplinary arts project coordinated by a local non-profit called Artists Working in Education (AWE), a group of 54 second through fifth graders have spent the semester exploring how the built environment affects and defines the human experience. Fiber artist Jane Moore and her students have been creating colorful modular panels using woven fibers and felted wool that can be combined and recombined to define space in changeable ways. Children’s author and poet JoAnn Early Macken encourages the students to explore memories in a built space, creating poems and written expressions. At this bilingual school, some young students have memories of the homes their families left in Mexico or Central America, according to Fratney art teacher Sue Pezanoski Browne, who proposed the project theme. Dancer and performance artist Susanne Carter has led students in exploring form and movement through space, eventually interacting with the woven structure and written words created during the project. The Fratney project, “Make Some Space/A Sense of Place,” will be showcased during two celebrations on Friday, Dec. 10 at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. at La Escuela Fratney, 3255 N. Fratney Street. A dress rehearsal will be held at the school Dec. 3 from 9:15 a.m. to noon. AWE has launched four “Three Discipline” (3-D) projects in local schools, all of which strive to integrate performing, literary and visual arts in projects that lead the students in experiments with new dimensions in creative and cultural expressions. Each 3-D project engages three artists of different disciplines in a 20-hour residency. The projects are supported by a grant from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary Nohl Fund. In addition to the four 3-D projects, AWE will sponsor eight visual arts residencies in Milwaukee schools during the 2004-2005 school year. Artists Working in Education, Inc., founded in 1998, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide youth in the Milwaukee area with arts enrichment programs to enhance human potential, advance learning, and cultivate community. Its two main initiatives are the School Studio, an artist-in-residence program designed to advance learning through the arts; and the Truck Studio, an outreach program providing free art experiences for children in inner city parks and neighborhood centers during the summer months. AWE received additional major funding in 2004 from the Windhover Foundation, Four-Four Foundation, Herzfeld Foundation, Buck Foundation, A.O. Smith Foundation, the Milwaukee Arts Board, Einhorn Family Foundation, Woman’s Club of Wisconsin, Bank One, Wisconsin Arts Board, and Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors Youth Foundation. For more information contact Sally Salkowski Witte, AWE Executive Director, (414) 933-3877 or visit www.awe-inc.org.