Art classes integrate cultural diversity into curriculum


Students sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” an African-American folk song, to commence the MLK day assembly.

Iman Khan, Staff Writer

From Japanese ink paintings to Latin American dance classes, the high school showcases a plethora of cultures through its diverse arts curriculum.

Visual Arts teacher Donna Sartanowicz said that she believes that every culture has some form of art that they practice, since art is a human endeavor. She said that self expression is a contemporary motivation for art because politics and religion were the original reasons that dominated any individual’s reason to create art.

“Art is culture. That’s how cultures express themselves, and you don’t have culture if you don’t have art,” Sartanowicz said.

According to Chorus Director and Music teacher Michael Driscoll, Concert Choir and Camerata perform pieces in numerous languages. Through singing pieces in Spanish or Hebrew, performers include different cultures of the world.

“That’s the reason why the repertoire is as diverse as it is,” Driscoll said. “I think it’s good for people to get exposure to a wide variety of styles, both for musical purposes but also for cultural purposes,” Driscoll said.

At the recent Martin Luther King Jr. Day assembly, Driscoll’s Combined Choir performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” an African American national anthem.

“We’re a part of that; something the whole school sees and that, hopefully, has a big impact on adding to the whole experience to the assembly,” Driscoll said.

After performing multiple Latin and European songs with the Combined Choir, sophomore Varun Nayar said he admires the great acceptance of international art at the high school. Nayar said that he appreciates music from a broad variety of cultures but is also influenced by his own Indian ethnicity.

“I think it gives the school more of a diverse and worldly environment because when students leave BHS, they’ll be a lot more equipped than other schools that aren’t nearly as accepting as this one,” Nayar said.

Performing Arts Coordinator Kenny Kozol said that students taking classes in the performing arts department study the origins of their international pieces, including Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Kozol said that he hopes to reflect diversity in the art that the students participate in, which he said has a positive impact on the curriculum.

“It is one of the ways where we can embrace the diversity of the student body and expand students’ understanding of the global world that we live in, regardless of where you come from,” Kozol said.

Due to the student influenced curriculum, Kozol sees a community able to share their very diverse influences in drama classes.

“When you have a class, as we have so often in Brookline, where you have these diverse cultures, the students themselves bring that background into a class,” Kozol said.