A Teacher's Vision: Poetry and Portraits from JVL Wildcat Academy, Portraits by Lisa Wilde

April 2, 2007 - June 11, 2007

Windsor Terrace Library (branch info)

A Teacher's Vision: Poetry and Portraits from JVL Wildcat Academy

"I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me."
Ralph Ellison, "Invisible Man"

"For me, the purpose of this show is to make these young people less invisible. They are deep, talented, sensitive and courageous, but the public doesn't necessarily see these qualities in today's teens. It is my hope that the poems and portraits will challenge stereotypes and convey our students' individuality and complexity, as well as give the viewer new insight into these people who are our future.

Making the portraits of the students began as a way for me to integrate my art and my teaching, but has resulted in so much more. The sketches are drawn at lunch, with me sitting at a student's table - completely exposed and vulnerable - and I think it has really changed my relationship with them. I ask the students to take risks in their poems - to express themselves. They see me taking risks making the art. And I aspire to be as sensitive in my drawings and paintings as they are in their poems. It has been a wonderful process."

- Lisa Wilde

Windsor Terrace local artist and teacher Lisa Wilde was born in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin and came to New York to work in broadcasting. While working for the British Broadcasting Corporation, she began taking art classes in the evenings. This was the beginning of a major transition to teacher, mother and part-time artist.

Wilde has been working at JVL Wildcat Academy for nine years. Wildcat is a second chance public high school located in lower Manhattan. The poetry comes out of a unit that Wilde teaches every semester, based on ideas from the poet Kenneth Koch. The portraits, done by Wilde at lunch and sometimes finished at home, were begun as a way to integrate her art and her teaching.

JVL Wildcat Academy has been in existence since 1992 and has graduated over 600 students. The school's students have gone on to college, professions like nursing, trade union and city jobs, and the military. Lisa Wilde's art work has been exhibited in New York City, and is in private collections in the U.S., Italy and South America. She lives a stone's throw from the library with her husband and son.