I welcome the opportunity to exhibit Faces of New America as a print exhibition or as a large scale sound/image installation. I am available for extended residencies at schools and colleges working with students on the production of sound/image environments or short term residencies focused on the themes of identity and cultural memory using media arts.
For educators interested in exploring the relationship of text and photography, I have created a unique curriculum combining literary excerpts by immigrant writers with the portraits in Faces of New America collection. The symbiotic relationship between text and image provides a deeper exploration into the psychological journey of growing up in America and the process of acculturation. The curriculum lends itself well to collaborative teaching in the areas of migration studies and performing arts.
Examples of residency work
Exploration of Identity through Photographic Portraiture: This was a six month photography residency at Como Park Senior High School, which has a high percentage of immigrant youth. Through their photo lessons, the students learned how to set up a studio, interview, and direct their peers to create portraits. This was the first time students had a chance to learn about various cultures through direct dialogue with one another.
Blake School McGuire artist residency: This was a month long residency with the upper and middle school students. The images in Faces of New America were utilized to get the students thinking about issues relating to identity, citizenship, and migration. Students in art class produced drawings from the images and discussed the purpose and function of a portrait. In English class, they focused on writing exercises by engaging in an imaginary interview with the subject about their cultural origin. In social studies, they participated in passionate discussions about the meaning of assimilation and whether one could define American identity.
These are a few fascinating examples that the students created after assembly when I gave a presentation about the portraits in Faces of New America and asked them in turn to express their American identity, using text and/or drawing.
Here are some comments about this residency by the teachers I collaborated with:
“Thank you so much for the outstanding learning opportunity you provided for my students and for me. You guided students into meaningful discussions about identity, immigration, culture, coming of age and more. I have never seen these students have such a thoughtful discussion and dive so deeply and eagerly into art work. Your photography and your energizing discussion were truly inspirational for my students. You have a wonderful way of urging student to explore inside themselves to uncover their identity. My students and I really enjoyed our time with you.”
— Melissa Nagan, Art teacher, The Blake Middle School
“Jila Nikpay was the first visiting artist I‘ve hosted in my Digital Cinema course at Blake, and I learned as much from her as my students did, if not more. She had a direct, concise way of communicating her ideas and lessons. My students clearly have made use of her teachings. I truly enjoyed working with her and I would welcome the opportunity to do it again!”
— J Jolton, Media Arts instructor, The Blake Upper School
Member of the COMPAS roster of Writers and Artists in the Schools (WAITS) and the Minnesota State Arts Board’s Arts in Education residency programs.