By Connie Leinbach
Ocracoke had an orchestra, film festival, an art show and puppet parade on Friday.
These were the fruits of Arts Week, an intensive immersion in the arts for all students in Ocracoke School.
Mainly sponsored by Ocracoke Alive, the week has continued since 1999, said Kitty Mitchell, Ocracoke School art teacher.
This year, the week had nine artists—five visiting and four local artists.
“This year, two of our visiting artists came all the way from Florence, Italy,” Mitchell, Arts Week coordinator and emcee, said during a community assembly Friday morning in Ocracoke School gym at the conclusion of the week.
Those were two videographers Anna Rose and Andrea Tani, who had done some work for the Ocrafolk Festival last year and who were asked to join in the Arts Week activities.
“This was the first thing we did anything with a school,” Rose said in an interview after the assembly. “We were just blown away how creative the kids were in four days.”
In Italy, Tani makes music videos and Rose does video art installations and sculpture.
The two showed several videos made by groups of students as part of the program.
“The quiet kids came out with the most creative work,” she observed.
Senior Kevin Perez worked on a video called “I Can’t Sit,” depicting some pratfalls with chairs and benches. He was so inspired that he created a five- to seven-minute drama that he’s completing with Tani.
They filmed it Thursday with islanders Brooke German, Jubal Creech and fifth-grader Iris McClain, and Perez will put it on YouTube when it’s done.
“It was an excuse for Andrea and Kevin to work together,” Rose said.
Genevieve Miles of Winchester, Va., worked with fibers with the students. In addition to teaching them how to crochet, she taught them about looming wool and weaving.
“I didn’t have anything to weave with,” she told the assembly. “So I went to the Village Thrift and bought some tennis rackets, and we used them to weave with.”
Islander Kim Hansen taught the students tie-dying (along with color theory) and Gloria Perez did Mexican crafts and shared Mexican culture and dances.
Robert Chestnut taught the students intaglio printing, Carol Woolgar taught mixed media drawing and Tara Grey taught jewelry making with beads.
Barbara Smith and Scott Paulson of Vermont brought “a mini van full of steel drums from Trinidad,” said Scott.
“You don’t need to read music,” Paulson told the assembly. “I can’t, and I went to college.”
They pair taught both students and community members, and three different “bands” performed on Friday with Paulson accompanying on drums.
After the middle school and first high-school steel pan groups played, the second high-school band called themselves “A Tribe Called Stacey,” and rocked it out with their rendition of “Tequila.”
The community band played last and accompanied a parade of students wearing papier-mache masks created in the class taught by Donovan Zimmerman of the Paperhand Puppets, who have been part of the Ocrafolk Festival for the last few years.
Earlier in the week, the community steel drum group practiced in Deepwater Theater.
Ellie Libby of Waterboro, Maine, who’s been vacationing on Ocracoke since January, was part of the small group and enjoying her first time playing the steel pans.
“I’ve wanted to play steel drums,” she said. “What an opportunity.”