Story Days Public Art Project


Title: Story Days making music from the neighborhood landscape
Photo Credit: City of Phoenix Office of Arts + Culture
Lead Artist(s):

The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture (POAC) partnered with Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (ASU) and five key arts and community groups to produce Story Days, a two-year series of story-based performance and poetry events that explored how we identify with our neighborhoods and surroundings. Supported in part by a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Grant, the project commissioned writers, performers and other artists to work with schools and community organizations serving young and old to create temporary and permanent works highlighting the factors and forces that shape the meaning and identity of place in our lives. The works ranged from dance, theater, music and poetry performances to workshops featuring perfume made from neighborhood plants and aromas. Year One - POAC and ASU built partnerships with Dunbar Elementary School, Matthew Henson Senior Center, Senior Opportunities West Senior Center, Harmon Library and Vernell Coleman Recreation Center to host dance, theater, writing and music workshops led by artists in ASU’s Gammage artist-in-residence program. Highlights included playwright Aaron Landsman’s work with students at Dunbar Elementary School to create art and stories from their personal experiences. Emmanuelle Lê Phan and Elon Höglund, of the dance troupe Tentacle Tribe, led a hip-hop dance workshop at Dunbar –bringing contemporary dance into Dunbar’s classrooms for the first time.   Year Two - Arizona Poet Laureate Alberto Rios and students from the ASU’s Creative Writing Program worked with music students at Dunbar Elementary School to create 10 musical and poetic works inspired by the community’s sights, sounds and aromas. Students photographed the community landscape, then transposed the streets, parks, houses, businesses and other features in their images into musical notes. The team worked with professional musicians Serena Fonze and Dominic Armstrong, and videographer Steve Yazzie to develop the musical ideas about place into Story Days - Music in the Landscape: The Inherent Music of Place, a May 17, 2017 public performance.   Sights, Sounds and Thoughts Rios’s team used community images and phrases to produce crossword puzzles and loteria games about the neighborhood, and a series of 27 bi-lingual poetic works – called greguerías– to evoke memories, ideas and observations inspired by the Phoenix South community. The greguerías became a walking poem about place in late 2017, when they were sandblasted onto sidewalks in the project area. Rios recorded the greguerías for broadcast as part of the South Mountain Community Library's "Poetry Chairs.” Scents - Jennifer Irish, a Perfumer and ASU’s Assistant Director of Creative Writing, led a workshop at the Senior Opportunities West Senior Center on making perfumes from local plants aromas. She created fragrances from tomatoes, cilantro and dill plants grown from seeds in the Harmon Library seed library, combining them with aromas of coffee, citrus, baked goods, essential oils and butters to produce hand creams that sparked their own stories about place.

Community Center
performance-based classroom and workshop based outdoor sandblasted on the sidewalks
Dunbar Elementary School, Matthew Henson Senior Center, Senior Opportunities West Senior Center, Harmon Library and Vernell Coleman Recreation Center
707 W Grant St
Phoenix, AZ 85007
United States

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City of Phoenix Office of Arts + Culture
City of Phoenix Office of Arts + Culture

Floor/Surfaces, Performance, Sound
Mixed Media, Sound
Community performance of music generated by creating music staffs from photographs of the neighborhood. Community-generated poetry sandblasted into the sidewalk around the neighborhood park, school, and senior center Loteria game Scents created from the aromas of the neighborhood