The school is co-located with the Lyceum Gallery where students are immersed in the daily life of an operating gallery. They meet the incoming artists, watch us promote the shows, attend the openings and live among the artwork. This gives them the chance to understand art as a practice and purpose in life.
This year’s resident artist is Marina Dempster who mentors our students in photography. They learn music theory and composition from Nick Arseneau and complete weekly studies with Andrew Long in art theory, painting and drawing. You can read more about all of these amazing mentors in the collaborators section or follow the work we do on instagram @theorchardlyceum
With a fully equipped studio at their disposal, students can decide how they want to present their work: letterpress, silkscreen, textile arts, painting or photography, for example. We build in time for exploration, contemplation and individual study as well as collaboration on group projects and occasionally, we just break for a studio day to make things.
Our neighbourhood has a history of artists working out of the margins, in the disused warehouses and dilapidated shops to create, critique and connect to what they saw going on around them. They were optimistic, found community and in many ways spurred on change in the area. The Lyceum is laid on the foundations of this spirit of innovation and artistic enterprise.
A Survey of The Arts Curriculum This Year
The West End Phoenix Our students have had the benefit of working with mentors from the West End Phoenix for several years. Journalist Kerry Manders, who writes for The Phoenix and The New York Times helped them prepare a full page of content on The Lyceum. Last spring, they had interned with Photo Editor Jalani Morgan. The triptychs they completed of community leaders became the HOPE Portraits which opened the gallery’s second season in September. You can read the story and see the works on The Lyceum Gallery’s viewing rooms.
Novel Study (Old Man and the Sea, The Crucible, Moon Over Manifest, Lord of the Flies, Fahrenheit 451, Inherit the Wind): Novels are used as seeds for interdisciplinary study of botany, science, history, visual art, drama and philosophy. Short and long essay assignments, in-class presentations and word study are a part of each comprehensive survey assignment.
Short Story The short story is a form that ideally captures a snapshot of time and place. This year, we surveyed an array of diverse work (such as Hemingway, Salinger, Kinkaid, Achebe and Atwood) in order to map plot structure and learn about different narrative voices, sources of conflict and character development. They did a short story workshop with Dave Bidini from the West End Phoenix and are now completing final term writing assignments in the mystery genre.
Poetry and Poetics This year, we surveyed an array of poetic forms and reviewed poetry as an agent for change through various eras: modernism, postmodernism, Black American poetry timeline 1850 – present, dub poetry and the Brixton diaspora and feminist poets 1960-1980. This fall, they completed a poetry workshop with Brandy Ryan from York University.
Critical Reflection and Writing The children are given writing prompts from which they craft stories, write poetry, develop logical arguments, prepare debates and present research topics.
Visual Art Studio Working in various media (watercolour, chalk pastel, sketching, linocut, colour theory), the children spend one morning a week in studio with Andrew Long. The gallery context the school is situated in provides them with rich material for exploration. They are there from setup through opening night and often have their morning lessons in the gallery. We have also had the pleasure of visiting other galleries such as The Ryerson Image Centre, Stephen Bulger Gallery and Samara Contemporary. More than a field trip, these visits are integrated into studio work and study in the classroom.
The Sketchbook Project Working with Marina each Thursday morning, students are following journal prompts from the #bealoveproject (a commumity-based initiative to engage people in the practice of journaling during the pandemic) to complete this sketchbook project to be collected in The Brooklyn Library. https://brooklynartlibrary.org/sketchbookproject
Music Theory and Composition Under the direction of Nick Arseneau. each student completed a comprehensive written theory exam, an ear training exam, and eight original compositions, four of which were notated on manuscript paper and four of which were created using a Digital Audio Workstation. They also had to write a contrapuntal melody for two classical instruments, played by volunteer musicians from Orchard Elementary. In the fall, the whole class produced an album of material which can be viewed through the blog.
Film and Digital Photography Class Weekly studies with Artist in Residence Marina Dempster, both in studio and in the field. Last year, we looked at graffiti in Toronto alleyways, staged tableaux for a Crucible novel study, had fun with light paintings, and completed portrait studies of each other in the gallery. This year, we are focusing on composition and technique as we document the way the neighbourhood is responding to COVID measures. Stay tuned.
Culinary Arts The Lyceum’s in-house chef, Sam Higgs, provides students with an opportunity to see food as a valuable resource, a seat of conscious choice and an art form. Each day, a different student is scheduled to assist in the preparation of the day’s meal, spending time picking up wisdom and kitchen chops from Sam.