Scottsdale Canal Convergence brings Arcosanti influence to collaborative experience

Mary Hoadley gives members of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale a tour of Cosanti. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story misidentified the name of Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

Canal Convergence each year seeks to provide a one-of-a-kind experience for the senses including both sight and sound, but this fall several Scottsdale teenagers look to take the event to the next level.

Members of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale are participating in a five-day workshop where they will team with Elana Novali of Arcosanti and Norm Pratt of Scottsdale Arts to create a collaborative sculpture addressing issues of responsible water use.

Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation is facilitating the project. The final pieces will display at this year’s Canal Convergence, slated for Nov. 8-17 at the Scottsdale Waterfront and at Convergence at Arcosanti in the fall.

Mr. Pratt said students will learn skills in ceramics, metalworking and aluminum casting as well as a better understanding of “what it means to be an informed and accountable citizen of our planet.”

Club members went to Cosanti in the Town of Paradise Valley to learn several aspects of aluminum casting, to tour the grounds and learn more about Arcosanti founder Paolo Soleri.

“Our hope is that students will be able to take the skills and knowledge into their own communities to further share awareness of the subjects covered in the workshop,” Mr. Pratt said.

— Norm Pratt, Scottsdale Arts

Teenagers who participated are from all over Scottsdale as well as the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Participation was optional, Lyndal Pleasant, director of arts programming with BGCGS, said.

Jonathan Angeles, 15, said he chose to participate because he wanted to learn.

Clay pots, which members of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

“I chose to do this because I thought it was a good opportunity to learn more about architecture and nature and how they work together,” he said.

BGCGC has partnered with Scottsdale Arts numerous times over the past year, Ms. Pleasant said. The club also wanted to use, she said, Scottsdale Arts’ resources to “provide high-quality arts programming for our kids.”

“It was kind of a natural progression,” she said. “When this opportunity came up, it was the work of Scottsdale Arts and Norm (Pratt), who was in touch with Cosanti, to make this project a reality.”

This is the second year Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation has facilitated a project like this as it joined Arizona State University’s The Design School with Tonalea K-8 students.

Natalie Marsh, director of Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation , said these efforts are part of Canal Convergences efforts to expand its community outreach.

This year, she said, the goal was to focus on teenagers and youth, which led to the education team reaching out to the club.

Members of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale watch a demonstration at Cosanti in Paradise Valley as part of a five-day workshop. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

She said it’s important to involve the youth because they have a voice that doesn’t always get heard.

“This gives them a platform to be a part of it, to learn, to understand the various careers that you can have in the arts, the resources we have in our city, to partner with those organizations and to get them to see themselves in something that is traditionally not a youth event,” Ms. Marsh said.

“They’re our next generation (of) leaders, so we have to get them involved now.”

Ms. Marsh also said community involvement is beneficial because it helps the audience connect with the event, which potentially leads to an amplification of the theme.

Both Ms. Marsh and Ms. Pleasant say they believe, so far, this has been a good experience for the club members.

Ms. Marsh said there have been unique opportunities for the participants they otherwise wouldn’t have had. Those include having outside artists coming in, working with new materials and learn about the various opportunities for careers in the field.

Mr. Angeles said he’s enjoyed the creativity in learning to build with Cosanti and understanding the importance of nature.

This year’s theme for Canal Convergence “The Story of Water” will feature other large-scale, light-based installation, many of which with interactive components. Other elements of the event include live performances, food vendors, a beer and wine garden, family friendly activities, artist talks and workshops.

Members of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale participate in aluminum casting at Cosanti in Paradise Valley. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at or at 623-445-2738

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