Story and photos by Greg Mitchell, FLEACT, Yokosuka, Public Affairs
Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka’s Nile C. Kinnick Red Devil students took part in the 4th annual Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Pacific Far East Creative Expressions visual arts festival at the Tokyo campus of Temple University, Dec. 15-19.
Along with Kinnick, students from Daegu, Osan, Humphreys, Seoul American, Yokota, Guam, Kadena, Kubasaki, Robert D. Edgren, Matthew C. Perry, Ernest J. King and Zama American high schools were in attendance to participate in an event that was conceived amongst educators who wanted to maximize students’ artist capacities while living overseas.
“This is our fourth year now; the first two years were held at the Onna Art Center in Okinawa last year and this year we have partnered up with Temple University in Tokyo,” said Shane Hernandez, a photography teacher at Nile C. Kinnick and coordinator of the event. “The conceptualization of the Far East Visual Arts Creative Expressions festival derived from a committee of art educators, Wendy Carrono, Linda Welhelm and myself; Instructional Systems Specialists Todd Kirby and Jim Hashman, as well as the previous Pacific DoDEA Director, Diane Oman.”
Founded in 1884 as a night school by Russell Conwell, a local Philadelphia Pa. minister, the university adopted the “Owls” (as in night owls) as the university mascot and alumni moniker,
Temple University, Japan Campus (TUJ), which was founded in 1982 as a satellite-campus of the Philadelphia campus, is located in the Minami-Azabu district of Tokyo and is the oldest and largest foreign university in the country.
TUJ has developed into a nationally recognized institution offering an extensive range of educational programs. In addition to its core undergraduate program, TUJ offers graduate programs in law, business, and education; an English-language preparation program; continuing education courses; and corporate education classes.
Students received hands on training with art instructors to create unique works of art by conducting an in-depth exploration of visual arts through drawing, painting, watercolor, printmaking, digital photography, jewelry design and mixed media.
Surrounded by shrines, temples, museums and interesting places in Tokyo, like Shibuya, Harajuku, Yoyogi Park, Ueno Park, Higashi-Gyoen Gardens, Toyota Mega Web in Pallette Town, Kappabashi, Roppongi and Asakusa, students had an unlimited source from which to draw ideas and concepts from.
After attending an opening ceremony at the university, students were immediately immersed into the art world by visiting the Mori Art Center Roppongi Hills “A Night at the Museum.” By staying in New Sanno and transiting to school on a day to day basis, students received first hand experience of life in college away from their families, while allowing them to engage with their like-minded piers.
“Our goal is to give students a deep dive experience in an Art Studio education in all courses that are taught at the Advance Placement [and] freshmen college level,” said Hernandez. “The bar has been raised every year and we have seen the students leap over it time after time.”
The week ended with students’ work being selected to be displayed at the 3331 Arts Chiyoda art gallery. Located in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, the multi-leveled art center occupies the site of what was previously Rensei Junior High School.
Opening in 2010, the name “3331” comes from a play on the old Edo custom called “Edo Ippon Jime,” whereby a person would shout ‘Iyo-o!’ and clap their hands three times, followed by another three claps, and the another three claps before finally ending with a single clap.
Of the students participating, Nile C. Kinnick had ten representing the school; Ashley Dary, Shannon McAllister, Kyra Nguyen, Abby Bissell, Alexandria Evangelista, Hannah Rios, Shania Dickson, Devan Clarke, Elizabeth Soiles and Tarick Mitchell.
Awards were presented from nine different categories based on the major courses offered. Curator’s Choice Awards were given in each of the nine majors categories. One award was given for each major course for student choice award. The Red Devils’ Bissell received the Curator Choice Award in the area of photography and the Student Choice Award for the same subject.
Educators want students to walk away with the feeling that the arts are as important to school as any other subject.
“In the article ‘Right Brainers Will Rule the Future,’ data has shown us that art is particularly linked to everything that we as a nation want for our students and demand from our schools, academic achievement, social [and] emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity,” said Hernandez. “Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill. Visual Arts classes can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork.”