Friday, December 13, 2013

Researching Performance Art Through A Verrazano Enrichment Project

Adriane Musacchio, a Dramatic Arts and History/Secondary Education major in the Verrazano Class of 2015, completed an honors enrichment project for her New Performance class as part of her Verrazano course requirement.  Below, Adriane shares what she's been working on and what she has learned from the experience.
Hi Everyone!

My name is Adriane Musacchio and I am currently a Verrazano Honors student in the Class of 2015. I am currently pursuing a BS in Dramatic Arts and a BA in History and Secondary Education.  As a senior Dramatic Arts major, I enrolled in New Performance (DRA 375) for this Fall 2013 semester. In this class, taught by Professor Maurya Wickstrom, my fellow classmates and I have been exploring different and new kinds of performances. 

In order to gain Verrazano honors credit for this class, I wrote a 12 page research paper on performance artist Marina Abramovic, who created and still continues to create new forms of theatre. Before writing this paper, I had absolutely no idea who Abramovic was and had no clue as to why she was constantly referred to as “the grandmother of performance art.” However, after researching Abramovic’s works for nearly three months, I now understand why artists admire her and her works so much.  In each of her performance art pieces she tests her body, pushes limits, and tries things that have never been done before. Though her works are by no means complex, they are quite powerful.  

After completing my research for this paper, I found myself highly influenced and inspired by the works of Marina Abramovic. For my final performance for DRA 375, I must create a new performance of my own. The piece that I will be performing is titled Deception and is highly inspired by the works of Abramovic. Deception is a feminist and body art piece that will focus on the different illusions that can be created on each part of the female body daily. During this performance, each of my audience members will have the opportunity to come up to me, the blank pallet, and create their own illusions on me with makeup, clothing, accessories, and other items. This piece was highly influenced by Abramovic’s Rhythm 0 and Art Must Be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful
In Abramovic’s Rhythm 0 piece, she tested the relationship between the audience and the artist by testing if the audience members would harm or comfort her when given the option to do so. In my piece, Deception, I will also be testing the relationship between the audience and the artist. In Art Must Be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful, Abramovic used a metal brush to violently comb through her hair. As she recited, “Art must be beautiful, artist must be beautiful” over and over again, she hurt her face and removed pieces of her hair with the metal brush. This work inspired me to explore the definition of beauty in my performance art piece, Deception

Researching Abramovic also inspired me to explore the “new” and create something unlike anything that has been created before. With this said, I have created a senior project performance piece along with one of my classmates, Nicholas Easton, titled Reconstructing Reality: Playing (with) the Game of Life. This piece explores the new, which is something Marina Abramovic embraces in all of her pieces. Reconstructing Reality will allow our audience members to think about things they have never thought about before. This performance piece will be performed at 8pm on December 13th and 14th in 1P’s student black box Lab Theatre.
I am so glad that I decided to write my research paper on Marina Abramovic as my Verrazano enrichment project for my New Performance class. Not only did I get to learn a lot about this great performance artist, but I also became inspired to produce works of my own based on her principles.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Blazing The Trail: Successes Of First-Generation Honors Students

New York Needs You is a selective fellowship program that helps first-generation college students prepare for and succeed in their careers.  Two Verrazano honors students, Alixandra Petersen and Farzeen Kanwal, were selected for this year's class of New York Needs You Fellows.  Below, they share their thoughts on the application process and what they've gained from the fellowship experience thus far.

My name is Alixandra Petersen and I am part of the Verrazano Class of 2016. I am currently studying English with a concentration in Writing, and after earning my undergraduate degree I plan on pursuing a doctoral degree in Physical Therapy.  My name is Farzeen Kanwal and I am working toward a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing.  I hope to attend a graduate program to become a Nurse Practitioner upon graduation as part of the Verrazano Class of 2015.

The photo is of us with our mentors on Match Day. 
They will be our main source of guidance throughout the two-year program.

In the Spring ‘13 semester we were taking a Psychology course together, never realizing that we were both applying for the New York Needs You (NYNY) fellowship. This is a program which is dedicated to providing holistic mentorship and career development to low-income, first-generation college students. The application process included writing three essays and receiving at least one letter of recommendation, along with submitting our transcripts and basic information about our financial situations. We both became finalists and were invited to interview to become part of the 2013 class. It was not until Interview Day that we realized we were both trying to secure 1 of the 100 seats in the class. We were both so nervous, but seeing each other definitely eased our minds as we waited for our interviews. The interview process consisted of a one-on-one Q&A to get to know us on a personal level, as well as a group interview which focused on our ability to work in a group and think critically on our feet. A few weeks later we were ecstatic to learn we had both been selected to be a part of such a great fellowship.  

The program consists of 28 workshops held over a two-year period in Manhattan. We are expected to wear business casual attire to each workshop because we are focused on preparing for our professional careers. Each workshop is structured in a similar way; first, fellows meet for an hour with the NYNY staff to discuss goals and tips for the day. Then, we break out into groups to work with the mentors on the skill or objective we are focused on. At each workshop we have focused on different things we will need in the professional world, such as: exploring our career interests, writing resumes, public speaking, expanding our networking skills and practicing professional etiquette. To end each workshop, we gather to reflect and share anything with all of the fellows, coaches and staff.  We might share achieving a personal goal, overcoming a challenge, securing a new job/internship or to just something we learned that day. During these workshops we have had the ability to meet and network with the Mentor Coaches, who are young, thriving professionals that are volunteering to share their knowledge, skills and network in order to help us achieve success. We are eagerly anticipating our next workshop when each fellow will be matched with a mentor who will be their main resource throughout the program. We are matched based on a number of things including: preference, industry, experiences, and personal interests. Even though we will each be paired, all of the coaches and staff are available to support and assist each fellow when needed. 

During this program we are expected to secure at least two internships that span five or more weeks. The staff and Mentor Coaches are very helpful in assisting fellows with searching and securing internships at various prestigious companies and organizations. Once an internship is secured, the staff does whatever they can to ensure we receive valuable experience that will help us in the professional world. Internships are a valuable way for us to gain real-life experience and grow our networks in the fields we plan to enter upon graduation. Being a part of the NYNY fellowship we also receive a professional development grant of $2,500, which can be used on things such as technology, business attire for interviews, and test-prep courses. There are also other events which they hold for fellows including field days, holiday parties, and days where we receive free business attire. The staff and mentor coaches really go above and beyond to make sure we all receive the personal and professional support we need to succeed in school and the professional world. The journey has just begun and it has already been life changing for both of us. 

To learn more about the New York Needs You Fellows Program, please visit their website.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Rebuilding Staten Island: Habitat for Humanity Making a Difference

One year ago, Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of Staten Island.  Within days after the storm made landfall , the first meeting of the nascent chapter of Habitat for Humanity at the College of Staten Island was held.  The chapter, officially chartered in Spring 2013, was started by a group of motivated students, including Verrazano honors students, who wanted to make a difference in the local community.  Below, one of the founding members of the club shares how the CSI Habitat for Humanity chapter assisted with the recovery efforts on Staten Island this past summer.   

My name is Francesca Messina, and I am a Verrazano honors student in the Class of 2015.  I'm completing the Nursing Associate’s Degree Program at the College of Staten Island this semester and will move on to the BS in Nursing in the spring. I am the Founder and President of the Habitat for Humanity Club at CSI along with Victoria Wong (Vice President, Verrazano '16), Thomas Campisi (Treasurer), and Brett Birkbeck (Publicist/Secretary, Verrazano '16). This is a new club that was started last semester (Spring 2013) at the College of Staten Island.

Thomas Campisi (Treasurer of CSI Habitat for Humanity) and Tony Saldana (construction worker for event).
For two weeks in July (Monday, July 8th, 2013 – Friday, July 19th, 2013), the Habitat for Humanity CSI Chapter linked up with Petrides High School, Tufts University Lacrosse Team, and Royal Coffee, New York, Inc., to help build and repair damaged houses from Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island in Midland Beach.  We helped a total of 21 different homes. 

Michael Blyth, a teacher at Petrides High School, organized the Petrides Habitat for Humanity Chapter in 2010 and organized this two-week event in Midland Beach.  Other members of the Petrides staff, Carlos and Antonio Rodriquez, were also part of the volunteer team.  The sponsors included Petrides High School, the Tufts University Lacross Team, and Fred and James Schoenhut, owners of Royal Coffee New York, Inc. - a specialty coffee importing company.  Through their donations, the volunteer work in Midland Beach was possible.

Brett Birkbeck (Secretary/Publicist for CSI Habitat for Humanity) helping out.

One person that we helped was Thea Friscia.  Every day the volunteers would meet together at 8:00 am at Thea's home.  Miss Thea allowed the team to store tools and supplies.  We would hear about our assignments, delegate work to specific groups, and then set out in the neighborhood to start our day of work.  At noon, we ate lunch that was donated by various people we helped or people that were volunteering with us.  We would discuss what we had done, how far we had gotten, and what was left to work on.  After lunch, we went back to work until 4:00 pm.

Work that the team did included installing drywall and taping, installing new sidewalks, waterproofing damaged basements, gardening, painting, building and repairing fences, and much more.  

Some of the rebuilding team at the Closing Ceremony on Friday, July 19th, 2013.

We lived by a "code" every day that we worked.  This "code" is a quote from French Quaker missionary Stephen Grellet (1773-1855): "I shall pass through this world but once.  Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now.  Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."  This code was mentioned multiple times every day throughout our two weeks.  We made sure to not only live it during that time, but we ensured that we would live by it in our everyday lives.  

The work we set out to do each day, along with our "code."

This two-week event was an amazing experience and opportunity that allowed every volunteer to discover and explore his or her potential for doing good in this world.    We not only helped twenty-one different houses in Midland Beach, but we made an impact on the entire neighborhood and an impact on Staten Island.

Portrait of the team working throughout the two weeks.  This was given to Miss Thea.

Join the CSI Habitat for Humanity Chapter to discover your potential!

During our two weeks, we interviewed for the Staten Island Advance. We also interviewed for NY1 news, met with the Midland Beach Civic Association who helped coordinate the whole project, and we also met politician Lisa Giovinazzo.
Here is the link about us in the Staten Island Advance:  

Here is a picture on Lisa Giovinazzo's facebook page that shows all of us working together: