Students in Liz Bertsch’s class of Senior Learners at the Hayground School will begin their 5th annual residency at the Watermill Center on Monday, January 3, as they explore the invention of words with artist/activist/poet and Hayground graduate Ella Engel-Snow.
Once again, the 12–14-year-olds will experience a residency at the Watermill Center, a laboratory for the arts and humanities on the East End. Inspired by Engel-Snow’s The Living Dictionary Project, Hayground’s eldest class will spend Monday and Tuesday afternoons outside on the beautiful grounds of the Watermill Center where they will embark with the artist on an immersion in a new area of word study involving word creation.
As Engel-Snow notes, “The Living Dictionary Project is about language equity and liberation. I am thrilled to be inventing words with young people. In these times we need imagination more than ever. We need to engage with language so that we can communicate effectively, ethically, and honestly. I want to encourage kids, teens, and all of us to imagine beyond what we think is possible.”
The artist continues, “The Hayground students will be inventing words and working together to come up with ways of sharing those words. I don’t know exactly what we will make because it is a co-creating process. The main objective for me is to use word inventing as a path towards accessing our creative wilderness. We’ll see how the Living Dictionary wants to play with us.”
Hayground teacher Liz Bertsch adds, “We are especially thrilled that Ella – both a gifted artist and a Hayground alum — will be working with us. The Living Dictionary she has created is rich, complex, and incredibly accessible to everyone. The students will appreciate the creative project of inventing words alongside Ella in the magical environment of the Watermill Center.”
The Living Dictionary residency is Hayground’s 5th in a series of collaborative endeavors with the Watermill Center. Elka Rifkin, Director of The Watermill Center, describes the fruitful relationship: “Each January, for the past five years, we have hosted students from the Hayground School for a month-long residency at The Watermill Center. It is always a joy to welcome this group and to witness how they choose to activate the space.”
Prior Hayground School residencies have included Puppet Making with artist Lexi Ho-Tai as well Flash-Fiction and Filmmaking with Bran Dougherty-Johnson and Lora Lomuscio, where students explored the genre of flash fiction, then wrote and performed their own flash-fiction using film as the backdrop. Artists Dougherty-Johnson and Lomuscio also led the students in an exploration of mythology. For this project, Senior Learners read Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, developed mythological stories, and performed them outside for an audience of Hayground community members and parents.
For more info, visit www.hayground.org