323 students participate in the national art program “reflections”

Over 300 students from 13 SMMUSD schools have created artwork inspired by the “I Count Because” prompt as part of the national art program PTA Reflections.

The theme, which was chosen before the events of 2020, could not have been more timely. During a year of isolation, uprising and calls for justice, students channeled their experiences and emotions into dance choreography, creative writing, photography, film production, musical composition and visual arts.

“The mission of the Reflections art program is to let children’s creativity run free and inspire them to express themselves and find joy in the different skills you need for different types of art,” a said Gabrielle Cohen, president of the Santa Monica-Malibu PTA board.

Each year, district PTAs host the art program at their school and encourage students to use their critical thinking skills to interpret the theme and express themselves imaginatively.

PTA Board Reflection Chair April Fields was initially concerned that fewer students would be motivated to participate in distance learning this year, but was very impressed to see 323 submissions arrive.

“I am completely blown away by the talent of our children and the way they are able to express themselves through these different artistic categories,” said Fields.

Inspired by the prompt “I Count Because”, students’ works have addressed a range of complex themes, including isolation, sacrifice, social justice and self-esteem, undoubtedly drawing inspiration from experiences of an exceptionally difficult year.

Eloise Siegler, a 3rd grade student at Franklin Elementary, was selected as the winner for her submission of black and white photographs of a child dressed as a doctor.

“To me, this child represents a future generation of frontline workers. It is important because that child would be the one to save lives in a crisis like Covid-19, ”Siegler wrote in his artist statement. “EVERY person counts, but I wanted to stress that healthcare workers save lives every day and are essential in every way!

Another particularly poignant submission came from Kayla Lewis-Koury, a senior in Samohi, who created a film based on her experience at a Black Lives Matter protest.

This is a video taken on May 30 in downtown LA during a protest against racist black murders and police brutality in America. In this video, I was shot in the foot. , tear gas and pepper spray. Our lives matter and even more, our lives are sacred, “Lewis-Koury wrote in his artist statement.

Of the 323 students who submitted works of art, 24 were selected as District Laureates by a panel of expert judges in each artistic genre. These winners are presented to regional selections and potentially state and national levels.

The PTA Reflections Art Program has been in existence since 1969 and has involved over 10 million students across the country. Although the program is a competition, its mission is to inspire students to delve more deeply into the world of art and to use it as a tool for reflection and self-expression.

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Kayleen C. Rice