How We Play, 2014-15 @ CCSF

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“The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.”

-Brian Sutton-Smith, Play Theorist

View the  How-We-Play2 PDF

When was the last time you played?

Play, in its purest form, extends beyond the innate intelligence of our biological processes raising two puzzling questions: How? and Why? How does play work in our lives? And, why are we born with this ability?

Studies show that play is paramount to the development of young children. The lack of it can be the catalyst for many social, physical, and cognitive disorders throughout childhood, adolescence, and even adulthood. Research has proven that play is the way children learn about the world around them. Now as an adult, I find myself asking, does play serve a purpose outside of our childhood and adolescence? And, why do some of us stop playing as we get older… or do we really?

From childhood to present, play has consumed me. I am an artist who thrives off creativity. I am a practitioner of capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian ritualized martial art form that is described as “playing” not “fighting.” It is no exaggeration to state that play is a fundamental part of my life. And with 13 years of experience as a teacher, I have spent most of my days with the master players I refer to as young people. From the San Francisco Bay Area to East Africa, my interactions with young people range from homework assistance to outside supervision to basketball coaching, circus acrobatics, and of course, capoeira. My lifestyle is centered around the things that I enjoy most (photography, film, children, capoeira, circus, and travel). I make a living through work that is my recreation. I do not have one without the other.

The purpose of this exhibition is to display how play takes shape in our lives. Through the personal and cultural experiences of children, adults, artists, and scholars, this exhibition explores the existence and significance of play beyond childhood to adulthood; the stage of life where society often deems play unnecessary. However, play is all around us.

More Information:

How We Play: Circus Acrobatics, Breakin’ & Capoeira

October 24, 2014 – May 1, 2015

Child Development and Family Studies

3rd and 4th Floors

Rosenberg Library, City College of San Francisco

Ocean Campus, 50 Phelan Avenue

Breathing Freedom Library Exhibitions Fall 2014


Mon – Thurs 7:45am – 7:45pm

Fri 7:45am – 2:45pm

Sat 10:00am- 1:45pm

Sun closed

Play is essential to all of our development and to our sense of well being. In this exhibition, Guest Curator Jarrel Phillips explores the concept of play as taught in City College of San Francisco’s Child and Family Development Department. He looks at the practice of circus arts, breakin’ (break dancing) and of Capoeira, the Brazilian form that is part dance, part martial art.

Featured artists, organizations, teachers, and others in this exhibition include: Capoeira Ijexa, Project Commotion, Circus Center, Mestre Urubu Malandro, Zanzibar Stone Town Capoeira, Prescott Circus, B-Boy Blakk (Cloud9Tribe/All Tribes SF Zulu Nation), B-Boy Iron Monkey (Renegade Rockers), B-boy Finesse (SF CR8IVE), CCSF’s Child and Family Development Department, Fleeky (Circus Automatic), Inka Siefker, Serchmaa Byanba, Dominik Wyss (Suns of Cayuga/AcroActive), Rice and Beans Cooperative, Xiaohong Weng, Veronica Blair, and the Uncle Junior Project.

All photos in this exhibition have been photographed by Jarrel Phillips unless otherwise noted. How We Play design and layout by Christine Joy Ferrer. Title Illustrations by Jian “Aguia” Giannini.

Besides checking out the How We Play Exhibition curated by Jarrel Phillips, if you’re interested in finding more resources about the study of play, please watch the trailer

(NOT produced by AVE). The trailer in itself is golden. This 10-hour television series is currently in the works about the vital importance of play to our happiness, well-being, and the future of life. It reveals how foundational play is to every area of life. Produced and directed by Gwen Gordon and fiscally sponsored by Open Eye Pictures in partnership with the National Institute of Play, US Play Coalition, InterPlay, and KaBOOM! For more information visit,