April 18, 2018
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p:ear Gallery and Alliance @ Benson Artists, Students, and Teachers Collaborate for First Thursday Opening

From: Geof Garner

The MESD’s TRiO Alternative Pathways Program introduced Alliance @ Benson High School teachers and student-artists and p:ear Gallery artists and teachers to collaborate on a joint art project earlier this year. 
On Thursday, March 1, the students of Alliance at Benson High School and p:ear Gallery presented their works of art to the public at the monthly First Thursday art opening at p:ear Art Gallery, (homeless youth arts nonprofit). Students from the p:ear Gallery also took part in this showcase of young artists’ works.
Above: Garrett (student artist from Alliance at Benson) and Josue Ramirez, Migrant Education, MESD
“The resonance of homeless youth and ‘at risk’ high school students collaborating to tell their parallel stories of empowerment through the arts is not lost on Joanna Vausberg, the dynamic high school art teacher who is spearheading the Alliance initiatives in project-based learning. “Even the most at-risk youth have a spark in them, and you have to find that spark,” she says. Vausberg herself finished high school at age 21 after having an art teacher find that spark in her, and she sees this clearly reflected in students at Alliance, like Ethan Shoemaker. Ethan had mostly given up on graduation but who found his spark by sharing with Vausberg his fascination with graffiti art and the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. “Maybe that’s what you should be doing — making your own documentary about graffiti!” Joanna suggested, and with the guidance of Outside the Frame, Ethan is now well on his way to creating a film about Portland graffiti culture, a project that is keeping him engaged and working towards high school graduation.”
Through connections established with the MESD’s TRiO Program and the p:ear Gallery, Ethan will be creating a mural downtown in Portland that has already been approved by the Regional Arts and Culture Council. This collaboration will continue next year with new Alliance students participating with p:ear students.  
Above: Korinna Wolfe, PPS, Senior Director, Multiple Pathways to Graduation
with art teacher Joanna Vausberg (middle) and Vice Principal of Alliance at Benson, Allison Adams.

"Our students were able to showcase their art and performance at the p:ear art gallery for 1st Thursday. [They] worked hard all year creating the art, and were able to get hands on gallery experience in hanging it as well. In addition, Ethan Shoemaker, worked with Outside the Frame to film a documentary on the process for credit. KGW joined us to film the whole project. It was a great success, and an awesome opportunity to showcase the skills and creativity of our students."  
- Allison Adams, Vice Principal Alliance High School 
KGW story about the event:

Outside the Frame story:
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