TRaC Instructor Eisa Davis works Teen Reviewers and Critics at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.
EISA DAVIS, Theater and Multi TRaC Instructor
"At its best, review writing helps us to understand the world, its art, its artists, and ourselves with clarity and generosity. When the students and I experienced live performance and museum exhibits in our MultiTRaC session, it allowed us to practice paying attention in a way that often eludes us in our everyday lives. We were as astonished by the creativity of the art we saw as we were by the sharp observations made in response. And I was personally impressed by the students' ability to maintain a sense of community within the class even when perspectives and skill levels varied widely. The freshness of their encounters with "high" art, "low" art, and everything in between moved me, inspired me in my own work as a writer and performer-and, I think, forever affected the students' ways of seeing."
BRIAN McCORMICK, Dance TRaC Instructor
"Teaching the TRaC classes has been an amazing experience for me. The students are extraordinary intelligent, insightful, engaged. Moreover, they are excellent writers, respectful of the art they are reviewing and aware of their privilege in critiquing it. They are the best dance critics in the business, and I am honored to be in their esteem. In addition to having a group of students to share the experience of viewing and discussing dance and other art forms, these students have broadened my own scope of cultural and critical awareness. It is easy for working writers to become jaded in their own field of practice in NYC - there is always more going on than can be taken in. But the TRaC students and the program make everything seem new and exciting again, every experience offers new discoveries. TRaC provides a greater sense of purpose and of responsibility that extends outside of the classroom and into my own approach to and consciousness of criticism. It has helped me to do as I say and to enact the principles that we are teaching in the program in my own writing. Moreover, teaching Fast TRaC has made me realize what an amazing program High 5 is altogether. In addition to the opportunities it provides for high school students, it gave this native NY'er the chance to experience some cultural staples that I've been missing out on all these years, like Richard Foreman and Bargemusic. Best teaching gig ever!"
KAREN HARTMAN, Theater and Multi TRaC Instructor
"TRaC students show up with sharp minds and big hearts. The conversation in the room is amazing, and attending events with this group of people makes me proud every time. If these are the critics of the future, artists are in for a welcome surprise!"
CASEY RUBLE, Visual Arts TRaC Instructor
"Teaching art criticism for TRaC presents me with an incredible challenge: exactly how to convey to people unfamiliar with the program that teaching for TRaC is nothing like teaching your "typical" high school (or college!) course. Having taught hundreds of students at three different colleges, I can unequivocally say that the "high school-level" students in the TRaC program are among the best I've encountered. They are amazingly creative, articulate, self-disciplined, eager to learn, and, above all, mature, perceptive thinkers with opinions about the world around them.
One of the things that makes the TRaC program so unique is that students do not get a grade or academic credit for their work. This puts the educational focus squarely where it should be: on innovative intellectual development and skills-building rather than on cookie-cutter, "teach for the standardized test" achievement. This frees students to take risks and challenge themselves; for educators, it means having the opportunity to work with individuals whose ambition is to learn for the sake of actually learning. TRaC has provided me with that all-too-rare, invaluable experience of spending a couple of hours each week with a group of people whose priorities match my own."
ANDREY HENKIN, Music TRaC Instructor
"I am thrilled to write another chapter in the wonderful TRaC story. After having established itself with dance, theater and art, a class devoted to music writing was a natural fit. But the class is only as good as its students and TRaC attracts some of the smartest, most talented and focused young adults the metropolitan area has to offer. It is a joy to lead discussions and read advanced thoughtful writing by the class. I feel I learn as much as I teach."
KAREN JONES, Visual Arts TRaC Instructor
"I had a fantastic time teaching this great group of young women
about contemporary art and art writing. The students came from
diverse public school backgrounds and the classroom was as Rem
Koolhaas remarks, "a social conductor." Our speakers from the art
profession and our excursions allowed the students to directly
experience the contemporary art context. The writing projects the students undertook emerged from this understanding of the manner and conditions in which artworks are displayed. We had wonderful debates and conversations about our varied art experiences including a tour of the Highline, a curator's walk-thru at MoMA to presentations by galleriest and non-profit space directors and talks with artists
KELLY ANDERSON, Film TRaC Instructor
"I was amazed at the intelligence, sensitivity and commitment of the
students in the TRaC program, and I enjoyed watching them grow as they were exposed to information about South African politics and culture. My favorite moment was when a South African scholar told them about the 'hair test' under apartheid, where you put a pencil in your hair and if it fell down you were classified as 'white,' and if it stuck, you were 'black.' The students were amazed, and I felt it really allowed them to reflect on their own racial and cultural identities. The TRaC program is an amazing resource for youth and for the city."
STACEY ENGELS, MultiTRaC Instructor
"Teaching MultiTRaC has been a life-altering experience. Not only am I continually surprised, delighted and challenged by the young people I work with, but I look at arts, advertising, critical writing about the arts and even New York City with brand new eyes. It is sobering to see how vastly different these students' life experiences are, and exhilarating to see over and over again how eager they are to reach out to each other and really share and communicate. I would have been thrilled to discover a program like this at 16, and am equally thrilled now to have participated in creating and teaching it."
SUZANNE SNIDER, Fast TRaC Instructor
"The students astounded visiting critics with their penchant for healthy debate (a dying art form). Across the board, they worked collectively, pooling their knowledge and experience, and came out of it with a healthy survey of art and art criticism, plus several new friends. In only two months, we explored visual art, theater, dance, and film, with visits from a playwright, art critic, film critic, and dance curator. The caliber of the students' thinking and writing could put many leading journalists to shame!"
SARAH VALDEZ, Visual Arts TRaC Instructor
"The students came to VA TRaC, as expected, not knowing much about contemporary art. By the end of the course, everyone in the class had written extremely savvy, entertaining reviews of gallery exhibitions. I was impressed not only by the progress students made as writers, but the enormous respect they had for one another's perspectives. Among other high points, we laughed at a video of a cat rave, wondered aloud whether an art critic ought to mention his own bald head in the context of an art review and entertained the possibility that butterflies count as art."