Category Archives: Art

One Work of Art, One Relationship, One Lifetime at a Time

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Schulman

First Lady Michelle Obama, the honorary chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), speaks about the importance of after-school and out-of-school arts and humanities education by hosting the PCAH’s National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards – the country’s highest honor in this field during an East Room event, October 20, 2010. (by Chuck Kennedy)

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama, honorary chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), celebrated fifteen exemplary programs from across the country that reach underserved youth by hosting the PCAH’s National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards.

In her remarks, the First Lady spoke about the importance of after-school and out-of-school arts and humanities education and thanked the teachers, administrators, and artists that keep these programs running each and every day, particularly during tough economic times:

But against all the odds, you’ve kept going. You’ve kept teaching and mentoring and innovating because you know, like all of us know, that these programs, programs like yours, can help our young people expand their imaginations and tap into their creativity.

You’ve seen how the arts and humanities can broaden their horizons and help them discover a talent or a mission or a sense of purpose that they never knew they had.

She spoke about how experiences in the arts and the humanities foster creative and intellectual development — and change lives:

But the real beauty is that you’re doing more than just teaching these young people how to become better artists or better musicians. You’re also connecting them with mentors and college counselors. You’re helping them become better people. And you’re giving them skills that will help make their futures that much brighter.

When a student writes a play, she’s not just learning how to put lines on a page.  She’s boosting her language skills, becoming a better public speaker, gaining a sense of pride in her ability to set a goal and to reach it.  When students are paired up with mentors, it’s about more than just keeping their grades up or strengthening their college applications.

It’s about connecting them with someone who’s been where they’ve been, who’s willing to take a genuine interest in their future, and who can show them what it takes to succeed in the studio, in the classroom, and in life.  And when a group of young people comes together to put on a show or create a piece of artwork, it’s not just about getting recognition for the work they’ve created. It’s about learning what it means to share a gift with others, and give back to the people who’ve made a difference in their own lives.

And together, they’re bringing so much joy to so many.  You’re showing our students that each of them has something valuable to contribute to this life. And you’re opening their eyes to a world of possibility that awaits them –- one work of art, one relationship, one lifetime at a time.

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The 2010 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award awardees are:

After-School Playwriting Program
Young Playwrights’ Theater, Inc.
Washington, D.C.

Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Program (BCAP)
Heart of Brooklyn Cultural Institutions, Inc.
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Center for Community Arts Partnerships
Community Schools Initiative
Columbia College Chicago
Chicago, Ill.

Community MusicWorks
Providence, R.I.

FACT After–School Programs
Fine Arts for Children and Teens, Inc.
Santa, Fe, N.M.

Girlstories Theatre Project and Workshops
Powerstories Theatre, Inc.
Tampa, Fla.

New Directions YouthArts
City of Las Vegas Office of Cultural Affairs
Las Vegas, Nev.

Project ALERTA
University of Massachusetts
Boston, Mass.

RiverzEdge Arts Project
Woonsocket, R.I.

San Francisco WritersCorps
Friends & Foundation of the San Francisco Public Library
San Francisco Arts Commission
San Francisco, Calif.

Scripps College Academy
Scripps College
Claremont, Calif.

The After School Program
Mentors of Minorities in Education, Inc.
Washington, D.C.

Artists Collective’s Transforming the Lives of High Risk Youth: Training in the Arts & Culture of the African Diaspora
Artists Collective, Inc.
Hartford, Conn.

Urban Voices
Global Action Project, Inc.
New York, N.Y.

YouthCAN
Wing Luke Asian Museum
Seattle, Wash.

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Behind-the-Scenes Video: “A Broadway Celebration” at the White House

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Schulman

This summer, the President and First Lady continued their White House music series with “A Broadway Celebration” to honor the arts and demonstrate the importance of arts education. Before joining the ranks of Broadway’s brightest stars, dance students from local schools performed in a special dress rehearsal for the First Lady, their parents and teachers.

A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House is emceed by Nathan Lane and includes Idina Menzel, Brian d’Arcy James, Audra McDonald, Chad Kimball, Elaine Stritch, Marvin Hamlisch, Karen Olivo, Tonya Pinkins, Assata Alston and a youth ensemble from the Joy of Motion Dance Center and Duke Ellington School of the Arts, with Danielle Arci and Constantine Rousouli.

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First Lady Michelle Obama in Harper’s Bazzar: America’s Got Talent

Posted by: Audiegrl


Harper’s Bazaar recently talked about the arts with Michelle Obama, who recalled her involvement in music and theater as a girl in Chicago. She donned her own L’Wren Scott sheath for the photo shoot and posed with musicians Jason Yoder, Antonio Madruga, Elijah Easton, Zach Brown, and Kush Abadey and glass artists Carmen Salazar and Caleb Siemon. Photo by Jason Schmidt.

“I was fortunate to grow up in a family that appreciates music,” she observes. “My maternal grandfather, we called him South Side, was a big jazz-music collector. He would play jazz 24 hours a day. As my mother said, when she was growing up, ‘You learn to sleep through jazz.’ He had speakers in every room in his house–including the bathroom.” It was South Side who gave Michelle her first album, Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book.At school, she performed herself once. “I remember very early on being the good fairy in Hansel and Gretel and having to sing a solo, which was humiliating.” In a fairy outfit? “Yes, it was a little tutu fairy costume, and I liked it because of the costume.” (Now, at least, Mrs. Obama’s best-dressed status has a basis in history.) “Oh, and my brother,” she says, laughing, “was Hansel.”

She also touched on sharing the arts with other first ladies, like Carla Bruni and Svetlana Medvedeva:

“It’s a universal voice. When I travel to other countries, usually the first thing the spouses do is introduce you to their cultures through music and dance. [French first lady] Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is a musician. We gave her a Gibson guitar. When I came to visit, she pulled it out and played the most beautiful song. We were sitting there with family, and we started singing.” When Mrs. Obama met the Russian first lady, Svetlana Medvedeva, last year, “She took me and my girls to see beautiful Russian folk dancing, and although we didn’t speak the same language, we instantly connected.” One of Mrs. Obama’s priorities is to create an exchange between Russian arts students and kids from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. “Mrs. Medvedeva grasped the significance of what arts and music and song can mean to international relations.”

Young talent finds its voice. Chelsea Harrison, Anitra McKinney, Roy Patten Jr., Jumohny Shardenea Walker, and Kenneth L. Washington Jr. of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Andrew W. Jenkins, Arthur A. McKeithen, Jasmine C. Parnell, Geoffrey Phillips, and Kayla Waters of the Howard University Choir. Mrs. Obama’s clothing and accessories throughout, her own.

Cross-cultural exchange. Clifton Brown and Constance Stamatiou of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Moneesha Muneet Gill, Navjit Singh, Omer Mirza, Michelle Puneet Gill, and Jackie Thind of Bhangra Empire; and Nicole A. Turchi, Elizabeth Whalen, Namaad Jackson, Tricia Brown, and Eric Scott of Joy of Motion Dance Center.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Hosts Dance Workshop With Students At The White House

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Schulman

First Lady Michelle Obama embraces Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Judith Jamison during the first White House Dance Series in the East Room of the White House September 7, 2010 in Washington, DC. The dance event was a tribute Jamison, a famous modern dancer, choreographer and muse to Alvin Ailey. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America)


While the economy remains the President’s central focus, which he will discuss again tomorrow in Cleveland, the First Lady continues to celebrate America’s cultural heritage amongst her many other issues, from military families to tackling childhood obesity. First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the White House Music Series more than a year ago with The Jazz Studio, describing it as an event that “exemplifies what I think the White House, the People’s House, should be about. This is a place to honor America’s past, celebrate its present and create its future. And that’s why all of you all are here today. It’s about you, the future.” Today, Mrs. Obama will welcome dance students and world-renowned dancers for the Administration’s first event celebrating dance. Featuring American dance from ballet to hip hop.

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The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison honors Jamison for her outstanding career as an American dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the past 20 years.

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First Michelle Obama Individual Portrait To Be Shown At Smithsonian

Posted by: Audiegrl


Brett Zongker/Associated Press~Move over Martha Washington. Martha Stewart and Michelle Obama are getting space in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington for the first time.

A new exhibit, “Americans Now,” opened Friday, featuring famous names from science, business, government and the arts.

President Barack Obama and the first lady are among those portrayed. It’s the first time Michelle Obama’s individual portrait has been shown at the gallery.

Familiar names in the collection also include actor Tom Hanks and music artists Willie Nelson and LL Cool J. Video portraits in the exhibit feature late-night comedians Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and David Letterman, as well as actor George Clooney and NBA star LeBron James.

The portraits are on view through July 2011. Portrait by Mickalene Thomas

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Behind-the-Scenes Video with the Jonas Brothers and the First Family

Posted by: Audiegrl

Last month, President Obama awarded Paul McCartney the annual Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Artists from all the genres and backgrounds paid tribute to the music legend with a concert hosted by the President and First Lady at the White House. Take a break and go behind-the-scenes with the Jonas Brothers as they prepare for and perform the Beatles classic “Drive My Car” for President Obama and Sir Paul.

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Don’t miss the “In Performance at the White House” music special with performances by McCartney himself, Jonas Brothers, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, Herbie Hancock, Corinne Bailey Rae, Dave Grohl, Faith Hill, Emmylou Harris, Lang Lang and Jack White, with remarks by Jerry Seinfeld on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 8:00 PM EDT on PBS stations nationwide. Check your local listings here.

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The Obama’s Welcome Broadway to the White House

Posted by: Audiegrl

Tonight the President and First Lady continued their White House music series with “A Broadway Celebration” to honor the arts and demonstrate the importance of arts education. The White House has consistently looked to support the arts even during these tough times. As the President has said, “the arts are not somehow apart from our national life, the arts are at the heart of our national life.” This evening’s event was the sixth in a series that showcases the music that has shaped and enriched our country – preceded by tributes to jazz, country, Latin, classical and the music of the Civil Rights Movement.

This afternoon, dance students from the local Duke Ellington School of the Arts and the Joy of Motion Dance Center will work with Tony Award winning choreographer Jerry Mitchell on a segment from the Broadway show Hairspray. The youth ensemble will come to the White House to perform in a special dress rehearsal for the First Lady, their parents and teachers, before joining the ranks of some of Broadway’s most prestigious performers.

Tonight’s performances included selections from American musicals that reflect the spirit, energy and ambition of America, featuring Nathan Lane, Idina Menzel, Audra McDonald, Elaine Stritch, Brian d’Arcy James, Chad Kimball, Tonya Pinkins, Marvin Hamlisch, Karen Olivo, Assata Alston, Danielle Arci and Constantine Rousouli under the direction of George C. Wolfe.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Hosts Dance Students At The White House

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama cheers and applauds during a dress rehearsal of 20 dance students from Duke Ellington School of the Arts and the Joy of Motion Dance Center ahead of the White House music series celebrating the arts featuring Broadway performers in the East Room of the White House July 19, 2010 in Washington, DC. As part of the music series, the students are participating in an educational workshop and rehearsal of a segment from the Broadway show, Hairspray. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America)

This afternoon, dance students from the local Duke Ellington School of the Arts and the Joy of Motion Dance Center worked with Tony Award winning choreographer Jerry Mitchell on a segment from the Broadway show Hairspray. The youth ensemble came to the White House to perform in a special dress rehearsal for the First Lady, their parents and teachers, before joining the ranks of some of Broadway’s most prestigious performers.

Remarks by the First Lady at a Broadway Music Series Student Workshop

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Honor Sir Paul McCartney at White House

Posted by: Audiegrl

Written by Kori Schulman

Sir Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder perform Ebony and Ivory at a concert honoring McCartney, recipient of the Gershwin prize, in the East Room of the White House. June 2, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)


Last night, President Obama presented America’s highest award for popular music − the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song − to Sir Paul McCartney in the East Room of the White House.

Artists from all genres and backgrounds joined the President and First Lady to honor Sir Paul McCartney, including Stevie Wonder, the Jonas Brothers, Faith Hill, Emmylou Harris, Lang Lang, Herbie Hancock, Elvis Costello, Jack White, Corinne Bailey Rae, David Grohl, and Jerry Seinfeld. As they gathered to present the annual award for extraordinary contributions to American music and culture, in his remarks, the President took a moment to address the challenges Americans face and the value of music in tough times:

We’ve gone through a difficult year and a half, and right now our thoughts and our prayers are with friends in another part of the country that is so rich in musical heritage — the people of the Gulf Coast who are dealing with something that we simply had not seen before. And it’s heartbreaking. And we reaffirm, I think together, our commitment to see to it that their lives and their communities are made whole again.

But part of what gets us through tough times is music, the arts, the ability to capture that essential kernel of ourselves, that part of us that sings even when times are hard. And it’s fitting that the Library has chosen to present this year’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to a man whose father played Gershwin compositions for him on the piano; a man who grew up to become the most successful songwriter in history -– Sir Paul McCartney.

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The concert will be broadcast on PBS stations nationwide on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 8:00 PM EDT as “In Performance at the White House Celebrating the Music of Paul McCartney: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize.”

Corinne Bailey Rae performs at a concert honoring Paul McCartney, recipient of the Gershwin prize, in the East Room of the White House. June 2, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Last year, the President presented Stevie Wonder with the 2nd Annual Library of Congress Gershwin Prize. The prize commemorates George and Ira Gershwin, the legendary American songwriting team whose extensive manuscript collections reside in the Library of Congress. The prize is awarded to musicians whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Visits Wayne State University in Detroit

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Schulman

“There Is A Brighter, Better Future Ahead”

Yesterday Mrs. Obama took the White House youth leadership and mentoring efforts on the road to Detroit, Michigan. The First Lady’s visit, in partnership with Michigan’s First Gentleman Daniel Mulhern, was designed to engage, encourage, and inspire the city’s young people. Leaders from across the country came along to encourage kids to dream big – mentors included: Governor Granholm; Cathie Black, CEO of Hearst Magazines; Susan Taylor, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Essence Magazine and Founder, National CARES Mentoring Movement; Spike Lee, Actor and Director; and Magic Johnson, Basketball Player, to name a few.

In her remarks at Wayne State University, Mrs. Obama discussed the potential of the city’s youth:

So our next chapter –- Detroit’s next chapter, Michigan’s next chapter, America’s next chapter –- is waiting to be written.

And it will be written by each and every one of you, because your future, your city’s future, this country’s future will look exactly like what each of you wants it to look like. And that’s what I believe. And that’s why I am here. Young people, I am asking you to embrace that responsibility to be our future.

Remarks by the First Lady at Detroit Mentoring Luncheon

Remarks by the First Lady at Student Form in Detroit

Students listen to First Lady Michelle Obama during a mentoring luncheon at the Detroit Institute of Art in Detroit, Mich. May 26, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Later that day, at a mentoring luncheon, the First Lady emphasized the importance of hardwork and support:

What we all know in our lives and through our experiences is that there’s no magic dust that is sprinkled on us that gives us success. There’s no magic to this. There are no shortcuts, there are no quick fixes. None of us was born with the knowledge that we have today, the skills or the talents that we have today. Some, maybe. You’ve got your special people that were just born crazy talented or crazy smart, but it wasn’t me, or the President, for that matter. All these folks here developed those things through hard work.

Governor Granholm wasn’t born knowing how to run a state; probably never thought she’d be doing it. Magic Johnson didn’t know how to always — did you always know how to dribble? (Laughter.) Maybe you did. Maybe you were one of the ones. But you didn’t always know how to run your own business, right? So, Susan Taylor’s magazine didn’t just publish itself — Essence, one of my favorites. These achievements took effort and struggle, late nights and long hours. And all these folks practiced and practiced, and then practiced a little more, to get those promotions, to win those elections, and to hit those notes just right.

When people doubted them, or told them they couldn’t do something, they worked a little harder. When they were scared or worried — and let me tell you, we all have been worried that we just wouldn’t measure up — they all found a way to keep going. When they fell short or failed — and failure is a part of success, it’s a necessary part of success — they didn’t let that defeat them. They let it teach them.

And all along, they found people in their lives to guide them: parents, and grandparents, teachers, coaches, friends who believed in them, who encouraged them and refused to give up on them even when they wanted to give up on themselves.

To have a more concrete impact on local students, the First Lady launched the White House leadership and mentoring initiative in the fall and visited Denver, Colorado in an effort to take the message nationwide. The idea isn’t just to create a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for just a few, but to encourage more adults to step up, volunteer their time, and make mentoring a lifelong habit.

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