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An Identity Project

Grade 8 students at The Harley School are participating in a collaborative project around identity that includes work in: movement, choreography, developing original performance scenes, music, and the construction of identity suits, inspired by visual artist Nick Cave’s work.  

Students participated in a series of diversity workshops on privilege, racism, and identity, as well as attending Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Social-Emotional Learning classes, then they incorporated what they are learning into their work in this larger identity project spanning self-exploration, performance and fine art. 

Additionally, they attended masterclasses and discussions with guest speakers, including: Darren Stevenson, Co-Artistic Director of PUSH Physical Theatre; Seth O’Bryan, Director of the Commons at The Harley School; and Penny Sterling, transgender actor, writer, and performer, based in Rochester, NY. 

The goals of this project are for the students to explore the idea of identity, what it means to be an individual, and to explore our connections to others in a community.  The central  idea comes from thinking about what does, “This is me.” mean? And then exploring, “This is me, with you.”  

“The original inspiration for this project was the artwork of Nick Cave. Cave creates ornately detailed soundsuits that he says are meant to be worn as a second skin, disguising race, class, and gender. I’ve always been inspired by his work, as well as the connections he uses between wearable art and performance art. I find his work visually compelling and his stories about the work are powerful and I wanted to share a new way of working with students ” says Rebecca Tracey, Middle School art faculty.

“It’s been such an amazing process to watch the students’ awareness of identity unfold through not only their SEL and DEI classes, but from diverse modalities in the Performing and Fine Arts, which gave them the opportunity to embody the issues around identity in a real and resonant way,” says Linda Foster, Middle School drama faculty. 

Donations made in honor of the “Connections” performances will support Diversity and Equity Inclusion at The Harley School.

The Harley School

1981 Clover Street
Rochester, NY 14618
(585) 442-1770

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