The Performance Art Team
In September, 1991, I began teaching art at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, NJ. I decided to incorporate my interest in performance art into my teaching by inviting students to join a "Performance Art Team". Dr. Paul Folkemer, the school principal and Pete Tilgner, my colleague, were very supportive. The students were very excited. They came to the art room after school and created the sculptures they would perform in.
The newly formed Benjamin Franklin Middle School Performance Art Team created five colored sculptures that are worn in interactive performances. The five sculptures, made of silicone rubber and fabric, represent black, white, brown, red, and yellow children. The performance is called Rainbow Kids. In this work 6th, 7th and 8th grade students wear sculptures and interact with one another and their audience. The Performance Art Team performed in New York City's 1992 Earth Day Celebration, Buffalo's Imagination Celebration, and several local events. The piece is a street performance that can be presented in numerous contexts. In Buffalo, Rainbow Kids was performed in two Public Schools (the performers walked into corridors, classrooms, and offices). I choreograph the actions of the student/performers with a wireless two-way radio system that enables me to communicate with the students.
The performances contrast action with stillness. The performers freeze as though they were statues and then come to life only to freeze once again in a new pose. The performers may be asked to follow simple directions such as freeze in a walking pose or interpret an emotion like take a sad or a proud pose. Rainbow Kids demonstrates that while children may appear different, they are all still kids. Rainbow Kids is an exciting performance about differences, interaction and harmony.
All work on this site ©Harold Olejarz 1997 - 1999 and the artists credited. No images or text may be used for commercial purposes without written permission from Harold Olejarz. Personal or educational uses are allowed with permission from Harold Olejarz.