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You’re Allowed to Bring Your Feelings to School

On the first day of my TAP internship this winter, a visual arts and creative writing residency at PS 171 in Queens, my mentors, Chelsea Asher and Yael Ben-Zion, began class by asking our third graders to share what color they were feeling. Halfway through the opening ritual, the range of emotions, and the individual interpretations of how those feelings translated into colors, had already formed a rainbow: nervous greens, sad yellows, calm greens, happy yellows, just-okay blues, excited reds, and other pairings. I myself was an anxious but excited purple—typical first day jitters, I elaborated to our students—an answer I’d arrived at only after overthinking what the combination of a warm re

2019-2020 TAP Anthology

Presenting the Graduates of the 2019-2020 Teaching Artist Project (TAP) Class. This anthology is a compilation of their work, experiences, and the fun we've all had together during this academic year. Community-Word Project's TAP is in its 22nd year and is the longest-standing professional development program open to the Teaching Artist field by a non-profit organization in New York City. TAP is a collective of diversely experienced arts educators training emerging and working teaching artists who are looking for a supportive community to engage in a self-reflective, justice-oriented learning practice in service of their teaching. The program prepares Teaching Artists to provide high-quality

Vika Adutova, Visual Artist

Vika Adutova is a research-based visual artist working with the semiotics of landscapes. Her practice combines drawing, photography, poetry, and film. She is currently making an essay film on landscapes and their narratives based on the coastal Barents Region in Norway. Vika was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and lives in New York. She holds a BFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology, the State University of NY, and an MFA from the Oslo National Academy of the Arts. She has received support through residencies including the Atlantic Center for the Arts, the Wassaic Project, the Chashama Artist’s Residency Program, and PRAKSIS. TAP Work: "Through TAP, I had a teaching internship in a first-

Vidya Cowsik Santosh, Multidisciplinary Artist

Vidya Cowsik Santosh is designer, artist, and educator based in New York City. She is committed to building user-centered experiences that help people creatively integrate their experiences, values, and identities. As a senior designer at Local Projects, she worked with the Equal Justice Initiative to create and launch The Legacy Museum in 2017. She continues to pursue equity and healing through her work as a teaching artist with organizations like City Lore and as a training member of the DEI-focused Big Apple Playback Theatre company. Vidya enjoys actively decolonizing her relationship to her own ancestral art forms. She is investigating the South Indian ritual graphic art of kolam and has

Topaz Rodriguez, Poet

Hailing from East New York to Queens, Topaz Rodriguez is a local poet with a concentration in the poetic dialects of spoken word, and prose. Topaz’s work mainly focuses on the perspectives of being marginalized in many communities, the aspects of love in marginalized cultures, as well as the exploration of self actualization, and defining one’s humanity from labels to ideologies. Topaz’s love for poetry stemmed from the discovery of a local organization known as Urban Word NYC- which helps youth across the country discover their poetic roots and how it can be used to lift up, speak out, and continue creativity in both support for themselves and their communities. Powered by the discovery, th

Sima Utku, Visual Artist

Şima Utku is an artist based in New York, born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. She holds a BFA in Illustration from School of Visual Arts in New York and a previous BFA in Visual Communication Design from Istanbul Bilgi University. Her work examines the relationship between personal and collective unconscious and draws inspiration from psychology, archetypes, mysticism, nature and storytelling traditions. Her current practice focuses on painting, drawing and printmaking. Şima’s experience as an educator started as a teaching assistant in weekly art workshops at Depo, a prominent art and culture space in Istanbul. There she found the opportunity to work with students of diverse backgrounds ag

Salvatore Corso, Media Artist

What it seemed to be a curiosity driven push, toward exploring new experiences, turned out being for Salvatore an existential journey to find himself. During his existence he has been a track & field athlete, a lifeguard, a consultant for energy markets, a passionate Jazz music listener, and a traveler: by hitchhiking, driving cars and picking up hitchhikers, riding trains, planes and buses. As a matter of fact, it has been his desire of preserving memories from live concerts and travels, that has led Salvatore to being interested to photography since he was a teenager; an interest that has become the common denominator throughout Salvatore's life, but which he didn't consider as a professio

Moréna Espiritual, Performance Artist

Moréna Espiritual is a cuir Afro-Taíno teaching artist, performer, and organizer based in NYC. Their work focuses on ancestral healing, re-imagining societal structures to create black/brown utopias, & inquiring about all emotional bodies that can live through the “self.” They created an event series that uses experimental performance, exhibitions, workshops, and vendors to encourage the spiritul autonomy of the NYC queer community, called “In Honor of Our Roots," which just finished its year long residency at the historic Langston Hughes House. As a performer, they have touched the stages of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, & New York Live Arts with an Off- Broadway sh

Mintzu Chen, Multimedia Artist

“Make honest art and let the world decide what to do with it.” - Madame Gandhi (Kiran Gandhi) Mintzu Chen is a Taiwanese American multimedia artist based in Brooklyn, NY. They hold a BFA from VCUarts in kinetic imaging, a major that encapsulates emerging digital media and new media arts. Mintzu’s art practice includes but is not limited to: poetry, animation/video art, Muay Thai (aka Thai boxing), and music. It’s important to note that their creative practice is fluid and boundless. For Mintzu, these mediums function as channels for introspective and expressive concepts. With radical imagination, their work explores how the marginalized can nurture their inner spirits and manifest utopian po

Minerva Diaz, Visual Artist

Minerva Diaz was a painter with DC-9, an HVAC engineer at Disney ABC, and a road-producer in the auto-industry until its collapse in 2008, which led her to pursue her passion of being an artist. It all started when then Senator Obama signed her work. Now, she has a growing collection signed by other influential individuals. Her work is permanently displayed at the Rosa Parks School and the Atomic-Bomb Museum in Nagasaki, Japan. It has also been published and featured at multiple UN summits. Minerva currently manages the Dwyer Cultural Center in Harlem, where she continues to tell stories through her work.

Magaly Vega, Visual Artist

Magaly Vega-Lopez was born in Mexico City in 1986. She is a visual storyteller, educator, and writer that uses counter-narratives to start a dialogue on the violent acts of reality and pursues possible social healings through art. Using art as a medium to understand the world, to engage with our community and to imagine a better future. The artist holds Master of Art + Education from NYU Steinhardt, class 2019, a Master of Fine Arts from the New York Academy of Art, class 2016 and BA Interactive Design from Universidad Iberoamericana. The artist lives and works in NYC, her work has been exhibited in the US, Mexico, Spain, and Germany. She is been awarded a couple of artistic residencies in R

Luciana Farias, Dancer

Luciana is an Argentinian flamenco and Spanish Dance dancer, choreographer and educator. She started in Argentina at the early age of 5 years old. All her life she has specialized in Danza estilizada y Escuela Bolera with castanets. Luciana has lived in New York since July 2018 where she performs weekly. She joined Flamenco y Sol Company & Flamenco Vivo Company, conducting residencies at public schools and Senior Centers in New York City. She is also a former flamenco teacher at Mark Morris Dance Center and Centro Espanol de Queens. In June 2019 Luciana was awarded a full scholarship for the “Spanish dance and Flamenco Program” in Jacobs Pillow School including 108 dance hours with masters C

Laura Troshynski, Theatre Artist

Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Laura is a Brooklyn based theater artist, performer, producer, and teaching artist. Laura has been a performer from a young age working with First Stage Theater Academy and Milwaukee Children’s Choir throughout her elementary and high school years. As an undergraduate, Laura studied at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts at The Stella Adler Studio of Acting. She graduated with honors with a BFA in Acting and a minor in the Business of Entertainment, Media, and Technology. Through The Stella Adler Studio, she performed in many productions including Othello, Necessary Targets, and a touring production of Macbeth. She has also studied at the Lond

Lance Moreland, Media Artist

Lance has worked over forty years creating and developing images in film, television and advertising. He started off in photography specializing in glass, food and fashion while working at a Texas PBS station. He did publicity for the first season of Austin City Limits, and shot films throughout the state. After graduating the University of Texas in Journalism and Advertising, began working at CBS, as a cameraperson, and on to directing short films on music, sports, lifestyle and culture. Returning to New York, he was offered a position as a Producer of commercials at J. Walter Thompson. He would later start his own company Lance Freelance Films, with clients Pepsi, ESPN, and the NBA.

Kaveh Haghtalab, Musician

Kaveh Haghtalab is an Iranian kamancheh player, drummer and teacher. He grew up listening to his parents performing Persian classical music. He began performing at the age of 14 and was subsequently selected to become a member of "The Center For Preservation and Propagation of Iranian Music", and won the first title in Fajr International Music Festival. He came to the U.S in 2012 to further study western music and received an advanced performance diploma from collective school music, and has been performing and touring around the U.S with different bands and also as a solo performer since then.​ Kaveh is also passionate about teaching. He has been teaching classes including songwriting, glob

Katharine Duckett, Writer

"The best thing for being sad...is to learn something." -- The Once and Future King, T.H. White Katharine Duckett uses speculative fiction, performance, and her lived experience as a queer disabled woman to create complex, engaging, and imaginative narratives. She is the author of Miranda in Milan, a Shakespearean fantasy novella debut that NPR calls "intriguing, adept, inventive, and sexy," as well as many short stories that have appeared in magazines and anthologies like Tor.com, Uncanny, PseudoPod, and Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction. She is the guest fiction editor for Disabled People Destroy Fantasy issue, a special issue of Uncanny showcasing the work of disabled creators in th

Kate Lindstedt, Writer

Kate Lindstedt is a writer and editor based in New York City. An MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at Sarah Lawrence College, she writes about fear, family, addiction, and healing, and is working on an essay collection about the intersection of illness and identity. Her words have been published at BuzzFeed, SheKnows, XRAY Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. In her pre-MFA life, she helped nonprofits drive action and inspire change, as a copywriter and content strategist. She holds a BA in Comparative Literature from Brown University. TAP Work: This year in TAP, while also in her second year of a creative writing MFA, Kate explored how art can be a vehicle for self-understanding and communi

Justin X. Molina, Public Figure

A flamingo in a world full of pigeons Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Justin always endured a love for theatre, pop culture, fashion, and self-expression. With idolizing icons such as Joan Rivers, RuPaul, and Wendy Williams, Justin knew since his diaper days that he would one day see his name in lights. At the age of 19, Justin worked for Lala Anthony as her personal assistant and starred on her VH1 hit reality show, Lalas Full Court Life. Shortly after that, Justin made his way into the fashion and entertainment industry. Not just like a celebrity wardrobe stylist (working with Elle Varner, Buster Skrine, Elliot Knight, and Bibi Bourelly, to name a few), but also working at the shows durin

Josiah Valle Ellis, Interdisciplinary Artist

Josiah (they/them/theirs) is an interdisciplinary artist, community organizer in training, and human animal guided by intuition, who works in painting, ceramics, poetry, performance, and direct action. With many growing edges, and grounded in radical love, they have a humble determination to act in service of life held in common: to empower and enliven shared creative capacities, and collaboratively shape culture toward dismantling patterns of oppression destroying life systems on earth. They’re interested in being more than one person, in gatherings, collectives, co-operatives, assemblies, coalitions, bridge-building, peace-making, and bread-breaking. They grew up a middle child in a bicult

John Jesus Almanzar-Pena, Multidisciplinary Artist

John Almanzar-Pena is a GNC Afro-Caribbean Multidisciplinary Teaching Artist, Writer, and Founder of Reina Project from Washington Heights, Manhattan. Their body of work focuses on embracing queer identities, healing through art, and questioning cultural norms. John is known for cultivating and curating experimental educational arts spaces. Spring of 2019 they founded the Reina Project, to combine their passion for experimental celebratory queer spaces and community solidarity. They have been able to produce work in partnership with Bronx Arts Space, The Bronx LGBT Policy Task Force, Rupauls DragCon, Headcount.org, CK Life, and countless community arts spaces. Their work has been Published

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