Teaching Artist Spotlight: Marquis Wallace

Friday Apr 16th, 2021

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Marquis Wallace - Artist in Residence with Erie Arts & Culture

For many of us throughout the last year, we’ve had to learn to quickly adapt and shift our plans and expectations. This situation was no different for rostered teaching artist, Marquis Wallace, who recently completed a residency at the Booker T. Washington Center Development and Education Center.  Although this was not Marquis’ first collaboration with Erie Arts & Culture, it was his first time leading a residency through Erie Arts & Culture’s AIE program. This also was the first time that a teaching artist residency was hosted by the Booker T. Washington Center.

Marquis Wallace is a dancer, visual artist, and writer based in Erie. His educational training includes attending the esteemed High School of Art & Design and the National Academy of Fine Art, both in New York City, in addition to earning an associate’s degree in marketing. During his time in New York City, Marquis was a company apprentice and youth ensemble member with the Rod Rogers Dance Company. Marquis now works in the social service field and is also active as an entrepreneur.

In 2019, Marquis completed the Erie Arts & Culture’s rostering process, which granted him the opportunity to lead creative teaching opportunities within our community - such as the one at the Booker T. Washington Center. Through his residency, Marquis worked to understand many needs of the senior citizen groups at the Booker T. Washington Center. As many seniors have felt an increase in isolation throughout the pandemic, Marquis utilized this opportunity to interact with a new community with whom he doesn’t normally exchange ideas. Hearing a call for an increase in activities centered around mindfulness, stress reduction,  increased mobility, movement, and more, he developed a creative response to the community’s aspirations. Marquis related, “It was my intention to make these classes as fun and straightforward as possible. I wanted to introduce shapes and movements that challenged and met the needs of the body while also encouraging change.” 

While social distancing and other pandemic-related restrictions limited much of the in-person interaction that was originally desired, Marquis was still able to collaborate with a variety of educators and participants. Marquis collaborated with filmmaker and photographer Alex Staley, dancer, instructor, and choreographer Mariah Johnson, and certified Yoga instructor Katie Adiutor to develop a series of programming for senior citizens. 

With these partners, Marquis created a set of 10 different fun and relatable videos that challenged participants in a positive, healthy manner. Participants only needed simple household items in order to follow along in the instruction outlined for each activity. Mariah Johnson’s 30-minute long dance-based instructions included an invigorating set of movements that were accompanied by an energizing soundtrack. Yoga sessions with Katie featured 15–30 minute long sessions recorded with an intimately-sized class. Videos were posted online for participants to access.

Marquis recognized that even despite the advancements in technology, challenges are still present when organizing virtual events. He also confirmed that offering digital-based instruction is very different from in-person instruction. Pre-recorded programming does not allow for as much face-to-face feedback and interaction when developing activities- a key element that Marquis feels is critical for anyone participating in a residency program. When asked what the best part of the residency experience was, Marquis shared that having the opportunity to meet and work with a new group of people was what inspired him the most. 

View the full playlist here

Are you or someone you know interested in becoming a rostered teaching artist?

Applications for new rostered teaching artists will be available starting Friday, April 23, 2021 through an online application on Erie Arts & Culture’s website. Individuals skilled in the visual, performing, literary, and/or  interdisciplinary arts, and from all areas of northwestern Pennsylvania, are welcome to apply. 

Below is an outline of the general application process:

  • The application period is open for 6 weeks each spring.
  • After the application period closes, applicants who meet the qualification criteria will be interviewed by an independent panel, during which an applicant will plan for a 10-day residency that will be used to demonstrate their artistic and teaching abilities.
  • Applicants will lead participants in a residency / hands-on art activity.
  • Those who successfully demonstrate their skills will be recommended to the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts for final review and approval.
  • After this approval, the teaching artist will be provided professional development and training that will help them learn the skills necessary for successfully implementing their residencies. 

You may read more about the Pennsylvania council of the Arts, teaching residencies, and qualifications by visiting our website

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