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Teaching Artist Mic Crenshaw talks with us

What do you enjoy most about working with Arts for Learning NW (formally known as Young Audiences) and the Right Brain?
– I enjoy the ability to connect with diverse groups of individuals and educators in multiple schools, each with their own culture. I also get to meet and interact with young individuals who are in some ways similar and in other ways unique. Each student teaches me something about myself as an artist and educator through their engagement or lack thereof. It can be humbling, inspiring, challenging and rewarding to go into a classroom full of strangers and share vulnerability, courage, creativity and understanding. If I do a classroom visit first thing in the morning, I usually have a great day afterwards as all my faculties have been fully awakened.
What impacts you most as both a creator and facilitator for social and environmental change?
– I find myself looking for hope in the minds, hearts, and expression of the youth. I’m looking for the same spark that I had when I was a younger person, the drive to do your best and raw self determination. I love to see youth grappling with identity and finding confidence and speaking to the future with a sense of purpose, grounded in their desire for change.
Do you feel that Black youth are receiving access to resources they need to tap into and grow their creativity? What’s working for you? What changes would you like to see?
– I don’t in a very material sense as most of the schools and classrooms that I’m visiting have very few Black students. I empathize with the isolation that I imagine some of them have grown used to. I do strive to make eye contact, call on, acknowledge and give direct attention to each Black student in each classroom I visit. I do feel that I have gotten positive responses and that Black students feel seen and heard by me as I make an effort to uplift their comments, observations, questions and contributions. I try to do this in a non-invasive way and remember to ask if they mind sharing themselves if they mind me sharing.
I would like to see more Black educators, administrators and students in the schools I visit. I would like to visit more classrooms with Back teachers.
What projects are you working on that you’d like everyone to know more about?
 I’m working on developing a curriculum for highschool students based on the It Did Happen Here Podcast ( and forthcoming book. This project is being executed in partnership with the Oregon Historical Society.
 Is there a moment(s) that you’ve had as a Teaching Artist that has impacted you and motivates you and helps drive your work?
– When students take the time to stop and speak with me 1:1 and share their appreciation for the time we’ve spent together and what I’ve shared, it moves me and motivates me to continue this work. When I see them discovering joy in the practice of writing and performing their work, I feel like I am doing the right thing. When students see me in public, years later as young adults that I don’t even recognize, and make an effort to connect with me and tell me how much what I did in the classroom has inspired them, I feel blessed.
*For more on the work and artistry of Mic Crenshaw see links below

OPB Art Beat, short doc:

Twin Cities Public Broadcasting Baldies Documentary, almost an hour:

Mic Crenshaw Born to Fight video:

RebelWise Beyond the Matrix short doc:

RebelWise Children of the Sun video:

Mic Crenshaw Earthbound video:

-Documentary called And it Don’t Stop, 35mins:

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