Experiencing Art

            In my second week as an intern for ACH Pathways, I had the pleasure of getting to know a lot of the students one-on-one. For the first time since the start of the semester, I had the chance to help some of the students with their English and Math homework. It was interesting to realize what each student finds challenging and observe their various strengths. As I learn the kids’ names and become more familiar with their unique personalities, it opens the door for more opportunities to help them with art projects and their homework. I look forward to building stronger relationships with the students as this semester goes along. Each and every one of them adds a unique dynamic to the group and it’s exciting to see all of them working together on new art projects every week. Already, after just a few days of work, I am amazed at the creativity of some of the children. This week, I had the chance to watch one of the youngest kids of the group draw an impressive dinosaur on the walls of a room which will soon be covered in murals. It was enlightening to see how much power the label of ‘artist’ has for even kids as young as the age of seven.

We started off the week with a simple art project, setting out to make get well cards for one of the staff members and their baby. The children were given minimal guidelines and a wide variety of supplies. Amidst the chaos of thirty excited kids in an art room, a few of the girls took on the task of drawing artistic portraits of the staff member and her baby. Instead of comparing the quality of their art, they taught each other how to mirror different aspects of other cards. Given the simple task of making get well cards, these little girls transformed the project into a learning opportunity. I was impressed by their collaboration, a skill which is so often lost in adult environments. I have also been surprised over and over by these children’s love of learning. While they are hesitant to do their homework some afternoons, many of the children were aggravated on Wednesday simply because it was time to put away their homework! This week, the kids showed me a new perspective on learning in their eagerness to learn new things from their classwork and from each other.

            Later on in the week, I was able to help with two different art projects. For the first part of the afternoon, an outside teacher came in to teach the kids about art that interacts with technology. In this case, the kids got to make Valentines Day drawings that use a QR code to bring the cartoon subject to life. It was clear from the very start that these kids are used to a world full of technology. To represent the concept of contrast, the teachers used examples from Fortnite, a game all of the kids love. The idea of making their own art into a kind of hologram was the perfect way to draw all of the children into a simple coloring project. While some of the kids worked on their coloring pages, the rest of the students donned some sweat pants and worked on painting the grass for their school’s mural room. It made my whole week to see how joyful the students were as a result of some paint and an old Kids Bop CD. This week the biggest thing I learned from ACH was the power of art, even in the hands of the youngest members of society. I think this speaks volumes about the importance of the liberal arts and assigns value to the English classes I have worked through for the last three years.

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