Arts to Grow

Arts to Grow works with schools and community organizations in the NY/NJ metro area to provide art programs that change children's lives, inspiring them to love to learn and helping them discover their personal, intrinsic motivation.

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    Teaching children to draw self portrait

    Drawing - Head-to-toe Self-Portraits

    The children do exercises to learn about the proportions of their bodies and then draw self-portraits. Ages 3 to 9. Plan 2 sessions.

     


    KEY IDEAS

    • Learning about proportion 
    • Drawing from observation
    • Filling the paper

    Arts Education and Work Performance: A Match Made in Heaven?

    article-banner-arts-educationMove over, math and science. It’s time to make room for art.

    Employers and government alike have long advocated math and science as the primary subject areas for those who want to excel in today’s knowledge-based careers. But now art is earning its rightful place alongside its more popular and heavily promoted sister subjects. And its biggest support is coming from employers.

    But the value for employers isn’t in the actual learning of how to play an instrument, draw the human figure or compose poetry. The real benefit from employers’ standpoint is the skill set that seems to come primarily from studying the arts.

    According to Fred Behning, an IBM retiree who has a music background, “The fine arts carry additional developmental benefits. Whether it’s music or dance notation, sculpture or painting, or translation of written word to emotion and action, all fine arts experience is built on conversion of the abstract into reality. This is Creativity 101 as taught in no other academic setting.

    "The positive correlation between possessing an arts education and achievement in the workplace isn’t proven conclusively, but there’s mounting data to suggest it” (Behning, 2007).

    Some of that data comes from employer survey results. In a report published by The Conference Board, an organization that researches marketplace and business issues, 97% of employers considered creativity to be “of increasing importance in the workplace,” while “85% of employers seeking creative employees said they were having difficulty finding qualified applicants with the right characteristics” (Lichtenberg, 2008).

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    Developing Idea’s with Arts

    There are two distinct areas of study to focus upon when teaching kids art production: the technical, and the analytical. The far easier of the two is the technical aspects of whatever media is being explored in a given project. Demonstrating and familiarizing student s with the various processes and procedures associated with a specific medium is always fun and relatively straightforward. Typically the students are excited to get to work and dive into their projects eager to make a calculated mess with the newly discovered materials. It is only then that a majority of them realize they lack the second and more important ingredient of art making: the ever illusive idea. This particular component of the creative process has long plagued both veteran artists and beginning students seemingly for as long as we as a species have been making marks.

    There is a fascinatingly complex relationship for students to discover between the physical act of making art, and the psychological reasoning behind it. Art, at its core, is a form of communication; a vehicle of expression. And whether it is sophisticated or shallow, there needs to be some degree of motivation behind an artwork if it is to stand any chance of resonating with an audience. In other words, the artist needs to know why they are creating a particular image and allow that reasoning to influence the direction of the work. Otherwise the work is in danger of becoming another trite image in an ever expanding ocean of kitsch. Even work created with exceptional technical skill, if lacking a clearly defined purpose, becomes a transparent window exposing the artist’s lack of intention.

    School arts programs face decline in funding, student participation, survey says

    Almost all New Jersey students are being offered some arts education, but not all are taking advantage of it and spending has declined, a report released last week finds.

    “There appears to be a narrowing of instruction,” said Bob Morrison, project director for the New Jersey Arts Education Census Project 2011. “The recession has played a role, but we don’t know yet if that is a temporary condition or a long-term negative trend we have to address.”

    The 2011 Census is an update to the first survey done in 2006. The current survey results have been posted in an interactive database that allows the public to look up every participating school in the state. All but about 30 schools completed the 2011 survey, and based on the results, 97 percent of students have access to arts education, up from 94 percent in the 2006 survey.

    Morrison said socioeconomic factors seem to play more of a role in the current survey, with more affluent districts offering more arts education, but excellent programs can be found in low-income districts. Locally, Absegami High School in Galloway Township, Egg Harbor Township High School, the Texas Avenue School in Atlantic City, Stow Creek Township School in Cumberland County and Stafford Township Intermediate School in Ocean County ranked in the top 10 percent of schools in the state.

    Absegami dance teacher Lisa Zeuner knows very well the impact of the recession on arts education. Her program was cut, then saved in 2010 as the Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District grappled with a tight budget and crying students pleaded with the school board. On Friday, her Flowmotion class presented its 10th anniversary program at the school.

    Among the performers was Kevin Yu, a senior who had no formal training until he joined the introductory dance course as a freshman. He will graduate in June and attend Rutgers University, majoring in dance.

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