My students rely on art to help them deal with various stresses they are working to overcome. They come from all corners of a large city, some traveling over an hour and a half to get to our school. Many have not had an art class since grade school. Some never had an art class and if they did, it was once a week for 50 minutes. At my school they receive three and a half hours of art a week.
They come into the art room excited to make and create, to try new things, and see where their imagination can take them.
A large percentage of my population has either an IEP, a 504 plan, anxiety and/or depression issues, or a combination of these. These students find the art room to be a refuge from the stress of their daily lives. You can see them change over the course of our time together. Shoulders relaxing for the first time that day, or slowly becoming more confident and happier. They understand how important the language of art is to them and how it helps them process what they are going through.
Imagine walking into the gym to discover an amazing art gallery. Dozens of works of art on display, standing up at attention, as if the art its self is saying, “I am so proud.” Now imagine how a teenager feels seeing their work on display like a “real artist.” Each year we look for opportunities to display the wonderful art created by our students, culminating in a Spring Arts Showcase. We invite the school community, parents, and locals to attend. The music classes present songs, the Lit Journal performs readings, and the space is transformed into a gallery.
With a growing art program there is more art each year to display and share.
We have some easels, but much of the art ends up being displayed flat on a table top. This year will be the largest event and we would like to allow all artists to feel empowered by seeing their art on an easel in a more equitable and profession manner. Each work of art is accompanied by an artist statement written by the student. These statements give our audience insight into the depth of meaning and thought our students express through their art. Having all pieces of art on display in an upright position not only allows the audience a better viewing experience, but also gives the art an elevated purpose.
I know my students will be thrilled to see their art and the art of their classmates on display on an easel, sitting upright for all to see. Not only for the end of the year arts showcase, but also throughout the year around the school, allowing us to invite the school community to enjoy their work, and promote the arts at our school.
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