On Friday, February 7, the 7th and 8th grades fortified themselves at Kayak’s (frequenting a local business) and prepared for our visit to Saint Louis ArtWorks. http://stlartworks.org/about/
In the days before, students visited the organization’s website and had a full hour of discussion, including reflecting on their visit to Artists First the week prior. This gave all a chance to speculate on differences and discuss possible similarities. The group ventured into understanding nonprofit organizational structures, mission and vision, and the ways in which art becomes a vehicle for community building.
Students were asked to engage in Friday’s trip to Saint Louis Art Works with the following goals:
- Meet someone new and ask a few good questions.
- Think about the differences and similarities. Consider what about the conversation had an impact on you, and why.
- Carefully observe the space: the inside of the building, location, how it is accessible to community. Consider ways in which the space supports community.
- Bring back to St. Michael’s studio some of what you have learned.
During the visit, students toured the full space. While the main program of ArtWorks is an arts apprenticeship for 14-19 year olds, the tour made clear that apprentices learn much more than skills that foster creative expression. On site are resources in employment skills, art therapy, nutrition and wellness, academic enrichment, and technology tools. All of this happens as apprentices work alongside and under the guidance of working artists.
At both Artists First and ArtWorks, students came to understand how art is a vehicle for helping communities reach those sometimes pushed to the margins: individuals with cognitive impairments, veterans, seniors, teens, and young adults. Each organization operates on a very tight budget and very little public funding, but each makes a major contribution to strengthening not just the participants but the communities in which we live.
Artists are resourceful, often by choice or force creating with limited tools, making “something” out of what others might see as “nothing.” Students saw this clearly, as they surveyed the space and thought about their own studio art experiences and tools.
At and after the visit to Saint Louis Art Works, students were actively questioning. This is the hallmark of The St. Michael School learning process and was in full effect as they touched upon the following topics:
Emotional impact of making art;
Relationships that foster creativity;
Developmental processes among emerging artists;
Bridging differences; and,
In the studio, and in our adventures in the community around us, we are clearly on a quest, a journey. There is so much to learn and to see.