Since I was a little girl, the " art room " had always been a safe haven for me.
Whether it was cutting with my first pair of scissors in kindergarten, or working into my first set of pastels as a senior, there is no doubt that I grew into my own skin because of the art classroom.
Many of us artists are a product of that one special teacher, mentor, or experience that lead us to believe that we actually are good enough, that it is possible to follow our dreams. At some point in our life, there was someone who whole-heartedly wished and worked to see us blossom into the artist we are today. Can you relate to this statement? Was it an educator who pushed you to your greatest potential? If so, wonderful. If not- though that was a discouraging experience, YOU can be the reason this changes for another young artist.
Art education is so imperative in a young child’s education, whether they grow up to be the next Picasso or a lawyer. With many of the budget cuts appearing in public schools, fine art programs seem to be the first to go. The fine arts represent much more than just a paintbrush or sketchpad- it empowers children with a voice. A chance to be heard, to become confident, and to truly embrace who they are. As art educators, we have the ability to promote freedom of the imagination, develop critical thinking and fine motor skills, build a sense of community, and create self-esteem. Though they are building knowledge in fine art techniques and history, in the end, they walk away with much, much more.
Since graduating, we the art educators have witnessed, first hand, the positive effect and significant role the fine arts can play in any child’s life. Children with behavior management issues that use the artistic process as a therapy tool to improve outbursts, Special Education students who thrive and look forward to that hour each day, at risk students who have been abused or neglected wearing a smile on their face because of the design they created, victims of bullying empowered with confidence after finding their voice in years of art lessons. Their stories are real. We, as grown artists, are real. So what allows budget cuts and superintendents the right to take these moments, these life dreams, away from any child before they even know that they exist?
We, as artists, have the ability to change the outcome. To reach deep into our own creative passions and share the magic of the creative process with these little minds. Many believe that no child should endure a childhood filled without magic and imagination, so what entitles anyone to strip them of the arts?
Artistic growth does not need to end between your own paintbrush and your own mind. There is unfounded, ever-evolving growth in teaching the creative process to a young developing mind, heart, and soul. When we choose to open ourselves to the concept of reaching and teaching others, it has no choice but to also change our lives forever. I promise you, the look on a child’s face after they hold a paintbrush for the first time or the excitement after they successfully build their own coil pot- those moments, will open your heart and change your artistic practice. Both you, and your students, will be fulfilled.