Athens art program opens up new opportunities – Grady Newsource


As high school art budgets continue to suffer cuts across the country, a teacher is reopening the door to creativity for young people in the Athens area with Youth Space 2021. This free intensive social practice program, led by of young people, is housed in classrooms and a gallery. spaces at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia.

Why it’s newsworthy: The University of Georgia is a big part of the Athens community, and people who don’t go to college won’t understand what students are going through or what classes are like now. .

Lisa Novak leads the program through the School of Collaboration and Invention. A doctoral student in the second year of artistic education, she explains what an artistic practice that challenges education looks like. “It’s not a real school, it’s like a, it’s a play on the question of what a school is?” said Novak. “What would a youth-run art school look like?Listen

Novak is a designer, educator and the 2020 recipient of the W. Robert Nix Award for Excellence in Arts Education. She tries to give young artists the materials to discover their full potential. She is interested in how we can use art and design as tools for activism and as a way to build community. To achieve this, Novak hired Forrest Lawson, a multimedia sculpture student with a passion for black feminism and queer politics. Novak aims to use his skills to create a more democratic classroom environment and foster a sense of solidarity within the queer community.

Start from nothing

Since March 13, eight local students between the ages of 14 and 20 have started meeting every Saturday at 10 a.m. to collaborate on experimental, socially engaged and site-specific art and design projects. Lawson said the students, selected based on their applications, began with a brainstorming exercise on what art is. “It wasn’t really, like, limited to painting or drawing or sculpting, it was very, you know, open-minded and open-minded.”Listen

Regarding the details of the types of projects the young artists will organize, Novak said, “That’s the beauty. I can’t tell you because it really depends, ”describing the possibilities as emerging and uncertain. Participants have the freedom to transform the host space into an experiential and lively public studio. “Youth Space is not a program where you come in and be like, we’re going to draw, we’re going to paint… It really emerges from the conversations and the interests of the people involved,” Novak said. “It could take any form, really.”

Cups in the classroom

Schools suffered larger budget cuts to arts programs when the No Child Left Behind Act was passed in 2001. With a greater emphasis on standardized testing, schools spent more money on core subjects such as than math and reading. Funds for art supplies have fallen, according to one “State Guide to Funding Arts Education” from Grantmakers in the Arts. This has led to more restricted access to artistic opportunities for young people.

“This space is just meant to re-engage the idea that the arts are an intellectual practice. It’s also like a community and socially engaged practice, ”Lawson said. Novak’s goal is to “Invite a younger generation to see the value of art as a tool that invites critical thinking and to argue the importance of engaging in the arts”.Listen

Real-world application of arts education

This difference in arts education led to a disparity of over 90 points on the SATs from 2010 to 2015 (Graphic / Lily Guthrie; Source / Americans for the Arts)
In a survey of full-time college-educated employees aged 25 and over, 85% agreed that creative thinking is essential to problem-solving in their careers. 72% of employers say creativity is the number one concern when hiring. (Graphic / Lily Guthrie; Source / Americans for the Arts)

The 2010-2015 data also supports the philosophy of Lawson and Novak. An Americans for the Arts report says that young people who participate in the arts regularly are four times more likely to be recognized for their academic achievement. They also attend math and science fairs more often and win more prizes for writing essays or poems than children who do not. These findings reinforce Novak’s notion that art is more than just a hobby and has the power to bring community together. “When we think of art as a tool for activism or social justice… it’s a tool to make you think critically. “

Limited space, unlimited possibilities

Likewise, a 2010 study of Missouri public schools found that greater arts education resulted in fewer disciplinary offenses and higher attendance, graduation rates, and test scores. In the Espace Jeunes class, “I like that students can somehow reform their conception of what art is and how they approach it on a daily basis”Listen Lawson said.

Although applications for the Espace Jeunes 2021 are now closed, there is still room on the waiting list. Face masks are mandatory for everyone, as the program will follow all necessary health and safety guidelines as outlined by the Center for Disease Control and the University of Georgia.

Lily Guthrie is in her fourth year majoring in journalism at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.


Kayleen C. Rice

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