The running joke with Anne Stanfield-Hagert’s students is that she is a “pretty bad artist.”
But when students ages 5 to 12 attend her Old Time Arts and Music sessions at the South Philadelphia Branch, 1700 S. Broad St., the focus is not on creating award-winning works.
“Art is a way for kids to learn something about themselves,” the resident of the 1800 block of South Broad Street said. “It requires a will and enthusiasm to try things out and experience them.”
Thanks to Stanfield-Hagert’s five-year-old nonprofit, youngsters of various ethnicities — Vietnamese, Cambodian and Chinese to name a few — bond together for a few hours twice a week. The free program, which averaged about 10 participants in the early days, nearly tripled to 28 eager learners during this year’s eight-week session. The art projects, which are in varying degrees of sophistication, address psycho-educational issues such as bullying, racism and poverty.
Stanfield-Hagert, who relocated to the area, with husband Thornton Hagert, 10 years ago to take a therapist position at the University of the Arts and now runs a private practice out of her Newbold residence, had a desire to provide children from different cultures a chance to interact with one another.
With a passion for the arts, she applied for and received a $5,000 grant from Avon (better known for its makeup products) to help cover the program’s start-up cost. Funding from the Friends of the South Philly Branch and East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association have made it possible for Old Time Arts and Music to expand its services to more participants.
Interacting with different cultures is nothing new for Stanfield-Hagert, 63, who spent a good portion of her life on U.S. Marine Corps’ bases. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Australia and has worked in parts of Asia.
Today, the teacher erases any cultural barriers among the students by communicating through their various projects, including a calendar featuring local, small business vendors, sculptures and masks. Once the eight-week summer session comes to a close, the group hosts an August gala displaying all of the original works. The students fill the dual role of featured artists/waitstaff. Each child also receives a DVD of their work.
“I am helping them see that they can do things they didn’t think they could do,” Stanfield-Hagert said. “I love helping them evolve and learn that there is not a right way to be.”
Contact Editor Bill Gelman at email@example.com or ext. 121.
2012 Difference Makers