Artist in Residence Highlights Summer 2017 Explore Week

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As if a selection of diverse and interesting courses weren’t enough, we’re adding Scott James to our Explore Week mix this time around, which means this poet and artist is on campus and meeting with students all week long.

As our official “Artist in Residence,” during Explore Week, Scott is in the midst, on the periphery and face-to-face with students every day this week. In fact, during most lunch and dinner hours, he’s poised over his vintage typewriter, ready for a good poetic challenge. The deal is, any Eagle Rock School student can walk up to Scott and offer a word — any word — for inspiration and Scott will write an original poem around that word. In fact, that’s pretty much his specialty, and a few years ago he churned out and gave away more than 1,000 such impromptu poems.

An Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellow in ER 40-42 (that would be the 40th through 42nd semesters since Eagle Rock’s founding in the 1990s), Scott currently resides in Austin, Tex., where he performs his instant typewriter poetry for events and parties, and helps writers turn their ideas into published books. His tools of trade include a 1946 Smith-Corona and he uses high-quality and handcrafted papers and techniques in his art that blend improvisation, metaphor and classic poetry.

Scott’s artistic career has included performance around the country, including Chris Guillebau’s World Domination Summit and Austin’s SxSW Interactive festival. And during Explore Week, this poet is available for one-on-one sessions with students. He’s also sitting in on several courses and conducting four workshops.

Meanwhile, for the students themselves, they’re all participating in one of the following course offerings:

Natural Building


Who better to teach a course on building natural structures than Kyle Chandler-Isacksen, a former Eagle Rock intern (Fall 1999) who has is a natural builder and urban homesteader? This “hands on” course includes building a Cob Pizza Oven. And while that’s not exactly a building, it is a structure and students are learning to use cob (think adobe) and earthen plasters to master the how’s and why’s of natural building. When he’s not building stuff, Kyle who teaches, raises food, and works for climate and social justice in Reno, NV with his wife and family.  He has built and led natural building workshops across the country and is dedicated to helping create a more just and life-sustaining society. He and his wife, Katy, met at Eagle Rock 17 years ago as ER-19 Interns.

Green River

Canoeing and camping along the Colorado and Green Rivers in southeast Utah adds literal meaning to the term Explore Week, with participating students exploring the deep crevices within the Canyonlands National Park.  In stark contrast to the hot, sunny desert above, the river corridors are remarkably green, shady and full of life. As of today — Thursday the 29th of June — students are more than halfway through this weeklong canoeing adventure, learning about natural and cultural history, including geology, plants and animals, Anasazi history, outlaws, and more recent human exploration.

Songwriting, Stories, and Live Performance


In this course, students are bringing along songs they’ve started and want to complete or material they have in mind to turn into songs — all in the belief that personal stories make music meaningful to us and to others. In addition to discussion and writing activities, students are listening to live music performances. Instructors include songwriter and singer Eric Ian Farmer, who has served as an Eagle Rock intern (Fall 1999-Spring 2000) and instructional specialist (Fall 2005 – Spring 2008); and Juan Torres, who teaches concert, jazz and marching percussion within the Estes Park School District, and serves as a Houseparent here at Eagle Rock for Spruce House.

Hair Care, Hair Design and Extension Wear


The fundamentals of beauty and hair care are taught in this course by a pair of Eagle Rock School grads who use a variety of tools and techniques to enhance beauty. Charmaine Mitchell and Sweets Baldwin are wielding thermal irons, roller sets and flexi rods, teaching students styles such as wig making, sew-ins, twisting, braiding, and crochet. Charmaine is a master cosmetologist from Decatur, Ga., and Sweets hails from New Jersey where she is a fulltime hairstylist for Regis Salon.

Video Production

This course enables students to use photography, mini documentary, music video or spoken word to visually tell a story. Circle training, vision boarding, storytelling, pro-action cafe, and visual harvesting are some of the participatory methods that are a part of this course, instructed by Dario Otero, owner of Youth Lens 360 — a Rosemont, Minn., company that provides visual communication, product marketing, and branding services through the lens of youth ages 14-24. Joining Dario in leading this Explore Week course is Trevonte Marshall, a longtime Youth Lens 360 apprentice who has worked under Dario since his earliest years in high school, creating and teaching video and photography classes while putting to good use his skills as a musician and lyricist.

College Tour 

Eagle Rock instructors Bea Salazar (Life After Eagle Rock Instructional Specialist) and Sebastian Franco (2016/2017 Professional Development Center Public Allies Fellow) are taking future collegians on a tour of higher-learning campuses along the Colorado Western Slopes and into New Mexico. Eagle Rock School students on the tour will meet with diversity officers and admissions representatives from the various colleges and universities, including Colorado Mountain College, Mesa University, Fort Lewis College, Adams State University, New Mexico University, CSU Pueblo and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

In addition to the Explore Week courses described above, some students are participating in one of four workshops scheduled this week:

The Poetry Inside You, Part 1 

In this workshop, Scott James is instructing students how to get into the writing mindset and then set words down on a page. After focusing on writing, the second half of the workshop involves sharing work with each other and giving and receiving constructive feedback.

Improv Poetry

Here, Scott is offering students some techniques to make them better poets, writers, and spoken word artists. And while we tend to think of poetry as something developed quietly in solitude with a notebook in hand, our Artist in Residence begs to differ. He says the best poetry comes when you’re not really thinking at all and just open to inspiration. This workshop shows students how to capture the good stuff when it comes.

The Poetry Inside You, Part 2 

This workshop is an extension of Part 1, with students revising their original poetry and sharing those revisions with others for feedback. Then comes coaching and rehearsing for Friday’s open microphone adventure.

Open Mic

This is where the rubber meets the road, with Scott and his student charges hosting an open mic in the Hearth (a central gathering space within the Lodge. Students will read their own original poetry, share songs or perform anything they have created — whether from Explore Week or not. It’s a celebration of the creative spirit.

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