Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)

Community College of Allegheny County

06/15/2012 -- CCAC instructor brings the arts to remote region of Nicaraguan coffee farmers

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PITTSBURGH—Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) Adjunct Art Professor Susan Powers is headed to Central America to teach art and music. For two weeks, Powers and her family will give lessons to the families of reconciled former Sandinista, Contra and Somoza fighters in El Porvenir, a community of 200 in the northwest mountains of Nicaragua. 

Accompanied by her husband, musician and educator Jeff Berman, and their sons, Sam and Eli, Powers will depart later this month. The family will take donated musical instruments, art supplies, prescription eyeglasses and mirrors—items difficult for the residents, who are mostly coffee farmers, to obtain in this remote region. 

Powers became involved with the El Porvenir community throughSara Cuadra-Berg, a native of Nicaragua living in Pittsburgh. It was through Cuadra-Berg’s family—who in turn are serving as the Powers’ hosts during their stay—that Powers learned that the teenagers of El Porvenir had a desire to learn more about the arts. 

In advance of her trip, Powers received donated arts supplies from the Squirrel Hill-based arts store Artist and Craftsman and an art materials grant from the Granada Arts Education Project. She will be working in collaboration with the project’s founder, Mauren Antkowski, to present an arts curriculum in Spanish. Powers’ projects will include observational drawing and painting lessons, composition theory and photography. 

According to Powers, “What makes my work with the community unique is that I will be developing relationships to create a learning environment that is site-specific and one of open engagement, where the language of art is taught and shared and responds to the needs and desires of  El Porvenir.” 

Powers received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University and has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting from Pratt Institute. She is well known in Pittsburgh for her banjo playing and singing work with the groups, Devilish Merry and AppalAsia. 


About the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)
CCAC annually educates 33,000 credit students through 170 degree, certificate and transfer programs and offers non-credit and workforce development courses to 30,000 students. The learning-centered institution’s mission is to provide affordable access to quality education and offer a dynamic, diverse and supportive learning environment that prepares the region’s residents for academic, professional and personal success in our changing global society. CCAC’s quality programs enable students to transfer credits to 520 colleges and universities and support regional workforce needs with accessible instruction available day, evening, weekend and online in Allegheny County and beyond.