it Down in the Middle: Pop and Hip-hop in Iowa
by Jim Jacobmeyer, Art Teacher at Metro High School, Cedar Rapids Iowa
"The Hip-hop culture is alive and well in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Bob Bryan, documentary filmmaker, came to CR to find-out how a local alternative high school was using the elements of Hip-hop to integrate the visual and performing arts into their summer program.
Our summer school theme was inspired, in part, by the video Graffiti Verite’, a collection of interviews Bob had done with West Coast Graffiti artists. The artists talked about Graffiti as being a part of a culture, which included the elements of graffiti art, dance, music and poetry. We liked the idea of this mix. We knew this idea would appeal to our students. Hip-hop has influenced what our students listen to, move to, rap to – and even how they dress. Popular teenage culture owes much to the legacy of the Hip-hop movement – and it continues to influence the visual and performing arts. Hip-hop is music, theater, poetry, dance – it’s a style, it’s an attitude, a way of life. Most importantly, it gives youth a voice, a way to express themselves.
Hip-hop is a positive influence. It is a celebration of the human spirit. Listen to the music, and your body begins to move. Spoken words follow the beat, meeting in rhyme. Wild style letters in vibrant colors appear in the mist of aerosol on a public wall. Hip-hop music, poetry, movement and color– a language rich in the urban culture of today. Hip-hop has become an art form by the people and for the people. It has taken art out of the gallery and onto the street.
Arts Education is only relevant
if it takes into account the cultural context in which it exists.
Our students want their life experiences to be relevant. They want
to be creators and not emulators. Our students and schools are the
barometers of our changing culture. As educators, we need to help
students understand the complexity and diversity of the world they live
in and the positive contributions they can make. This makes a strong
case for integration of this cultural phenomenon into the regular curriculum."