Upstream Arts participant at Roosevelt High School

Upstream Arts participant at Roosevelt High School (Photo by Matt Guidry)


Over the past couple weeks, we’ve been tapping some of our community partners, participants, donors, Teaching Artists, staff, and Board members to describe Upstream Arts in their own words, tell us what they love about this work, and imagine how they would be excited to see Upstream Arts grow in the coming years. We also have been asking them to tell us about a “favorite Upstream Arts moment.” We’ll be sharing many of these stories with you in different ways over the coming months; but the growing collection is SO lovely that we couldn’t resist posting a few on the blog right away:

“A student in one class was slumped in his chair, scowling, indicating how ‘stupid’ this was… by the end of the class, he was up doing tree poses and laughing!!”

“In my first Upstream class, I saw an adult student speak eloquently about how the exercises done in class had given her a personal breakthrough about an interpersonal problem she had been having with a roommate.”

“Last year’s performance at the Bloomington Center for the Arts … it was great to get a picture of the impact Upstream Arts is having on its clients.”

“At the end of a 12 week residence, watching two students have a conversation using drums, on their own motivation. Then having their teacher say that, before our residence, those two students were not friends, that they fought with each other or just informed each other. Seeing the progress in those students was amazing.”

“I was teaching at Midwest Special Services. We were doing a rhythm mirror exercise with [fellow Teaching Artist] Charles on the drum. The whole room reacting and repeating the drum sounds by slapping their thighs. I was assigned to assist Steve, who mostly communicated from his wheelchair by eye contact only. His hands rested on a tray on his chair. He had never moved them in class. So I was to tap on his hands to copy the beat. I cupped my hands on top of his to do it. So,… Charles sent out a, ‘tum, tum tum,…’ I repeated it by tapping my flat hands on Steve’s hands. Suddenly, I felt two hands pulsing ever-so-slightly up and down against my  palms, ‘tum, tum tum,…’ like a cool jazz drummer saying, “I gotcha!” A great ‘never assume’ moment.”


Do you have a favorite Upstream Arts moment? We’d love to hear about it! Please share in the comments below, or email [email protected]