ELA High School
Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey, is required reading in many high schools and colleges around the country. But in a new take on how to view the poem, an author, translator and Homer scholar took his father on a cruise that retraced the route of the Greek hero Odysseus from Troy to Ithaca as laid out in Homer’s epic. Prior to this adventure, the son had taught The Odyssey in a course at Bard College, which his father had attended. In this audio story, and author and translator discusses a trip he made with his father, not long before the older man’s death.
ELA High School
Consumer culture in the United States has been a fixture of the holiday season for years, particularly on the Friday after Thanksgiving–also known as “Black Friday.” That’s the inspiration for the title story in Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s latest book of speculative fiction, Friday Black. In it, he addresses the topics of race and class as they relate to American consumer culture. Listen to hear an interview with the author as he discusses how his experience of these factors influences his work.
ELA Middle School
John Steinbeck’s classic 1937 novella Of Mice and Men tells the story of two migrant workers during the Great Depression. George is committed to protecting Lenny, who is well-meaning but limited in his cognitive and social skills. George does all he can to keep Lenny out of trouble, and so the two are often on the move. Of Mice and Men has been adapted for film and stage. Listen to this story to hear how an actor who played Lenny on Broadway reflects on how his own background informed his portrayal of this iconic character.
ELA High School
This story features an interview with author Jay Cantor about his 2014 story collection, "Forgiving the Angel: Four Stories for Franz Kafka." In this work, Cantor fictionalizes the lives of several friends of renowned Czech writer Franz Kafka’s in order to examine the influence Kafka had on them. In the interview, Cantor explains what drew him to Kafka, the dilemma Kafka created for his close friend Max Brod, and the meaning of the term Kafkaesque. Listen to the story to learn about one writer’s inspiration and his thoughts on a literary giant.
Current Event October 2, 2018
A teen theater company has developed a play about gun violence, and they have designed a set that also functions as a public art installation. The room-sized exhibit includes thousands of shoes representing people affected by gun violence this year, with a shoe added for each new victim through the run of the show. Listen to learn about what inspired the design of this play and art exhibit.
Current Event September 12, 2018
Shooting the cover of the September issue of Vogue magazine is often considered the grand prize of fashion photography. Twenty-three-year-old Tyler Mitchell is the first African American photographer, and one of the youngest ever, to win that prize. Listen to this interview with Mitchell, who discusses what led to this important moment in his career, how he feels about it, and his thoughts about being the first black photographer to receive this honor.
ELA High School
In response to the popular, yet controversial Netflix show "13 Reasons Why," one school began sharing some personal stories from students struggling with suicidal thoughts. Instead of sharing the reasons why someone might make the choice to end their life, however, they shared messages of hope and positive influences on the lives of its students. Listen to hear those stories and how they impacted the students at the school.
Current Event May 24, 2018
Philadelphia’s public school system has hundreds of broken musical instruments. In order to raise money to repair them, professional musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra along with school children will perform Pulitzer prize-winning composer David Lang’s new piece, “Symphony for a Broken Orchestra.” This composition highlights the “wounded” nature of these instruments to create a unique sound. Listen to how the composer wants to emphasize the community of the orchestra and how diverse musicians can come together to create something beautiful.
Current Event January 31, 2018
Online courses provide access to a variety of topics and can be accessed at any time by learners. One professor believes that by taking courses online people are missing out on visual art education. To combat this, she started a website with courses that delve deep into how art is made, in addition to offering online critiques that help people improve their craft. By becoming involved in her work, this professor has developed her mental flow and wants to show others how to get to this point by connecting with materials. Listen to learn why mental flow is essential for understanding another side to art.
Current Event May 19, 2017
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus have announced they will close after 146 years in the circus business because of high operating costs and low ticket sales. However, at the New England Center for Circus Arts, performers are still training to become performers. With the most well-known institution of the American circus industry shutting down, it is up to the new generation of performers to redefine the circus’ place in American culture. Listen to learn more about how young performers thinking about the future of the circus, and then debate whether the circus will survive.
Current Event April 28, 2017
The sculpture ‘Fearless Girl,’ is the name given to a statue that was placed directly in front of the famous Wall Street Bull statue. The statue depicts the girl putting her hands on her hips and staring down the bull, symbolizing female possibility. However, many feel the statue is an empty gesture and that it is condescending to represent womanhood with a cute young girl. Some think it changes the meaning of the bull from a symbol of strength to a symbol of a villain. Listen to learn more about the statue’s impact as well as the controversy surrounding it, then debate whether the meaning of art can be changed.
Current Event April 19, 2017
African-American artist Kerry James Marshall has made it his life goal to make black culture “indispensable” and “undeniable” to the art world. Marshall has dedicated his career to painting black subjects and depicting African-American experience through art. He hopes that in showing his work in major museums, he is combatting the historical underrepresentation of black culture in history. Listen to learn more about the artist Kerry James Marshall and his views on black culture in the art world.
Current Event March 23, 2017
A communal listening experience can decrease social anxiety and boost empathy. An artist is collaborating with high school teens to create a “Sound Lab” at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The Sound Lab gives community members the opportunity to listen to recordings that the high school teens made of their families, nature, and their own original monologues. The teens found that listening to their recordings with community members in the Gardner’s concert hall had a stronger emotional impact than listening alone. Engaging with the Sound Lab may help people to pay more attention to the sounds that surround them everyday. Listen to learn more about this sound project and its impact on teens and the community.
Current Event February 16, 2017
When a new administration takes over the presidency, the first family has the right to make some decorative changes to the White House, including changes to the art that hangs on the walls. The White House is an accredited museum, with a committee of curators that work to select, obtain and pay for new pieces of art. Part of a White House curator's job is to make decisions about how to make a collection that best represents the United States and its history. Listen to learn more about the history of the art collection in the White House and how the curation works today.
Current Event January 18, 2017
For people who are visually impaired, many of the experiences sighted people take for granted aren’t available, such as going to an art museum. Now, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. are offering special tours to help blind and visually impaired visitors “see” the art. This story takes you on a tour with this unique group of visitors.
Current Event December 12, 2016
A fire broke out in a warehouse in Oakland where a number of people lived. The warehouse was converted to artist studios and living spaces. At least 36 people died in the fire. Some people are raising questions about this housing arrangement and other artists’ communities because there were no sprinklers or fire alarm system in the building. Listen to hear from one artist who lived in the warehouse and escaped from the building after the fire broke out.
Current Event September 21, 2016
Every major presidential campaign has its own logo. The candidates work closely with graphic designers to create logos that represent a certain message the candidate would like to send to the public. In graphic form, they can project a voice, impression and identity to voters. In this story a graphic designer analyzes the logos of two major presidential campaigns.
Current Event January 7, 2016
The MoonArk is a time capsule that will be sent to the moon on a privately-funded Moon mission. It is filled with items that will attempt to communicate to whomever finds it and show a portrait of humanity. Two hundred artists and designers contributed to the capsule and the items are unique, including a spritz of perfume, sculptures so small you need a microscope to see them and text messages. Listen to hear more about this artistic time capsule.