The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:
How do people contribute to awareness and understanding of their lives and the lives of their communities through art-making?
VA:Cn10.1.2a Create works of art about events in home, school, or community life.
Students were invited to respond to the prompt: Time to Dream. Students explored what their dreams for the future were through their art. Schools were given the choice of prompts to gear the project towards community life during Black History Month, or for dreams relating to home or school.
VA:Cn11.1.5a Identify how art is used to inform or change beliefs, values, or behaviors of an individual or society.
Creating art based on the children’s dreams for equality, justice, and unity helps them connect to, analyze, and hopefully change their beliefs and behaviors. Having artwork that represents these themes can also influence values of a school community.
VA:Pr5.1.8a Collaboratively prepare and present selected theme-based artwork for display and formulate exhibition narratives for the viewer.
Each school displayed their artwork. Some had installations in a hallway for several weeks, others had an organized art show for the whole school to come see, and others presented their art digitally. All students were provided a card to fill out that was displayed with their art, telling the title of their work and their dreams for the future.
At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:
Students and teachers reflected on their experiences with the Time to Dream Program Art Program. This link shows their responses:
Do you think looking at each other’s artwork helps students understand each other? Why or why not?
“I believe that looking at each other’s artwork helps students understand each other because it gives you a looking into a person’s mind, creativity, and their artistic ability.”
“I absolutely think looking at one another’s artwork is an avenue to understanding one another!”
People often use art in many ways. Do you think that art can influence people’s beliefs? Can it teach? Can it change behavior?
“Art can touch a person’s soul. It definitely teaches us. I think it allows us to understand other’s beliefs better even if it doesn’t change our beliefs. It can be thought provoking and help us to be more tolerant. It is important to have beauty in our life.”
“I believe art can open doors to how other’s think and why. Art can be an opportunity to grow, learn about one’s self, and expand understanding.”
“Art can touch a person’s soul. It definitely teaches us. I think it allows us to understand other’s beliefs better even if it doesn’t change our beliefs.”
It was exhilarating to attend the Lewis and Clark Time to Dream Art Show. A whole room of children waited at desks to show their new paintings. They invited stakeholders, all the other grade levels, and even the C of I Football team. We walked around to each child and asked them, “What is your dream?” They told us about their paintings, which ranged from world peace and an end to pollution to innovative inventions and hopes for dream jobs. They were so proud of their art, and so connected to each other and their classmates through the experience.
The line from our Children’s Theater production that always strikes me is when a child says, “This is my first play!” There are such great benefits for both the children on stage, and for the children who come to see their peers. Another favorite moment is to watch children engage in Theater during their first exposure to Theater. They learn such valuable skills in performance decorum and etiquette, even as they are laugh and sing along.
Another favorite moment was watching special-needs individuals enjoy a bluegrass concert. They enjoy music on such a deep level without being so concerned about what others around them are doing or feeling.
Next year, we want to increase the reach of the Community Paint Project. We also want to give the special-needs population a chance to create visual art as a top priority. We also want to expand the program to more schools. The schools were very innovative with their art shows, and next time, we will give them an idea sheet of ways they can use the basic project as a starting point and create something meaningful for their school.
We loved our time at the Juvenile Detention Center. It was powerful to take time to ask incarcerated teens what their dreams are, and to listen to their responses. I hope this project got them thinking of the future and analyzing their goals through art.
We changed the location of our Children’s Theater to Caldwell High School, with practices at a local elementary. We liked this change, because we were able to reach a different demographic than we would have otherwise. Many children don’t have after-school transportation, so this was a great change.
If others completed similar projects, I’d encourage them to have google forms to collect student and teacher feedback, as well as photo releases and pictures. It has been so much easer than getting emails back and forth, or following up at a later date.
We had such a fun year, and it was wonderful to be back in the schools!