Friday, February 24, 2012

Art in Schools Part 2 of 2

After years of pushing to improve their standardized test scores drastically reduced the time spent on art classes, elementary schools are once again trying to bring those subjects back up to strength. Unfortunately, the grim economy has made it difficult to find the funding to hire new instructors, create new spaces for art classrooms, or provide sufficient supplies.

This is where the art community has stepped in to fill the gap.

Local nonprofits, museums, and community centers are partnering with schools to provide in-school instruction and after-school programs that provide art education students would otherwise not be able to receive.

In Chicago, there is extra emphasis not just on the importance of teaching children about art, but ensuring that they all have access to it, regardless of age or socioeconomic status. Organizations like Prosarts Studio, Marwen, the South Chicago Art Center and Gallery 37 provide space, materials, and classes for children and youth at low or no cost.

One organization in particular has taken the mission of providing quality art education to youth too heart. 

A girl works on part of a mural | photo courtesy of Yollocalli
Yollocalli Arts Reach, a youth art initiative associated with the National Museum of Mexican Art, began in 1997 with the vision to provide “equal access to communal, artistic, and cultural resources” to area youth who might not otherwise be able to afford costly extra-curricular art classes.

Yollocalli does not just serve students who want to pursue a career in the arts, either.

“Most of our students just simply enjoy making and learning about art and do not have many opportunities to explore it on their own,” Vanessa Sanchez, Yollocalli’s program director, said in an email. Sanchez said that the students who came in to Yollocalli ended the program feeling confident about their abilities not just to create a work of art, but effectively communicate with each other about their work, art in history, and their future goals.

“Our young people are given the space to create art based on their own stories and lifestyles,” Sanchez added. “We focus on giving the youth the tools necessary 'to realize their own vision'.”

Making clay art for animation | photo courtesy of Yollocalli
In 2009, Yollocalli was awarded the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, recognizing the organization for its dedication to the young people in the community.

Yollocalli is not alone in Chicago. There are many schools, organizations and groups tapping into the city’s vibrant art culture to bring art and youth closer together, serving as a reminder that art is as vital a subject as literacy and science to a young person’s education.

Katherine H.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great story Katherine..really entertaining!