Title 1 School Partner-1

The Giving Me at Peachtree Elementary

Three art projects. Two hundred and sixty kindergarteners. One amazing event! We were so honored when Peachtree Corners Business Association approached us to host a project at a Title I school near to them. They generously donated a grant to make the event happen and I wish everyone could have seen the joy and excitement on the kid’s faces as we got started.
 

This event was themed around giving. The teachers wanted the students to create art for the upcoming art show in which a portion of the proceeds would be going to a school in Mexico, and possibly to another Paint Love art project. Paint Love artists don't just paint! We believe writing is an art form and full of creative inspiration. We took the creative mind of children's book author, Dr. Lydia Criss Mays, and turned her ideas into art projects with the help of artist volunteers Christina Wert and & Katey Penton. Dr. Mays did live readings of her book, The Giving Me. She talked with the kids about what giving feels like, what giving looks like, and popular children’s book illustration styles.

We split the Kindergarteners into 3 groups. Each group started out in the cafeteria with Lydia. After they were brought back to their classrooms, Christina Wert, Julie and I taught the project. Julie planned the event so that we moved in a wave from classroom to classroom. We never had all 250 kindergarteners at one time.

We chose to do three projects so there would be a wider variety of pieces at the art show. Here’s a quick look at each of the projects:

Watercolor:

The watercolor and crayon project was easily my favorite. It was based off of Kathryn Otoshi & E.B. Lewis Illustrated books. The kids got to use paint to create background, then trace out their arms. We talked about warm and cool colors. And punched out hearts from their warm color crayon drawings.

Marker:

This marker project was super fun. Lydia was inspired by Mo Willems and we pulled a little bit from Romero Britto’s style. The kids were able to create landscapes and collage on printed illustrations from The Giving Me book.

Oil Pastel:

Our oil pastel project was based on the illustrations of Jerry Pinkney. We talked about warm and cool colors and blending. Oil Pastels have such an interesting texture when blended! This was a fun one, because kids were able to get a little messy without getting too messy.

They turned out so well! I loved seeing how each child took a different approach. Every piece is different and unique, even though it was the same project. It was such a joy to meet so many creative spirits!

A huge thank you to the Peachtree Corners Business Association for sponsoring this opportunity!

On Being Authentic: Masks with Kim Stuart and Artfully Made

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Happy New Year! Julie and I are excited to be back at it in 2016. What a beautiful year this is shaping up to be! If you haven’t heard, we made our year end fundraising goal! We have an official Thank You post in the works with all the details, so stay tuned! We are so, so, so thankful! We're so excited to see what incredible projects we have this year with the talented youth of Atlanta!

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I wanted to kick things off this year with a project about authenticity. Kim Stuart led this 2 part project last year with Amy Myers’ Artfully Made group at Powder Springs Elementary. We talked about what it means to be authentic and the masks we sometimes wear. One thing we talked about was the difference between wearing a mask and modeling a specific behavior. One girl gave the example that being studious and calm while working on school work isn’t the same as wearing a mask - wearing a mask is acting like someone you're not. I thought it was awesome that, even at a young age, these ladies recognize that there are so many different sides to ourselves. 

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To start the project, Kim talked about her mask that she made. We all shared examples of times when we weren’t being our most authentic selves. We talked about the reasons why we felt like we needed to wear masks. After our talk, the girls cut out and painted the base layer of their masks. We used cardboard so we could make them BIG!

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We painted and added eyes, ears, mouths, and noses. Then we glued everything together. It was such a fun project, both light hearted and thoughtful at the same time, our favorite kind. We spent two project days working on these. I like that we were able to spend extra time discussing and working on something the girls were really proud of! It has been wonderful to work with this group throughout the year. We are so thankful to know them and looking forward to more projects with them this year! 

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What we decided is that authenticity looks different to everyone because everyone is different.

The best thing we can do is to discover our authentic selves and then share it with the world in a kind and caring way. I hope this is what 2016 holds for us: let us recognize the awesomeness within and be brave enough to share it!

Wishing you an authentic and brave 2016!

Artfully Made with Amy Myers

Artfully Made Yoga Class with Amy Myers and Paint Love

I was so lucky to sit in on a program that Paint Love artist Amy Myers is developing for her class at Powder Springs Elementary. Powder Springs is a Title I school with an arts integration program. Arts integration is a teaching approach in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. A good example of this is learning math through rhythm and music studies or learning about culture and history through the visual arts like in the American Hero’s Mural Project.

Artfully Made, a curriculum by Amy Myers is written around the theme of self worth. It's goal is to teach young girls that they are wholly lovable, loving and loved. 

The first part of the session was spent teaching the girls that what is on the outside changes nothing about what is on the inside. Amy showed the girls a sparkly ring. After the girls all agreed that it was beautiful and valuable, Amy put the ring in a beautiful clay pot. She asked the group, “Is this ring the exact same on the inside? Is it just as valuable and beautiful?” The girls answered, “Yes, of course!”

Next, Amy put the ring in a grocery bag and said, “Now that I’ve put this ring in an old worn out grocery bag, is it any different?” She had the girls go in a circle and say mean things to the ring while it was in the grocery bag. Dirty, old, cheap, yucky—all these words were used to describe the ring. Then Amy asked the girls, “Did this outside packaging and those mean words change anything about the ring inside?”

This was a pivotal moment. I saw some girls struggle with this question. Finally, the group agreed that nothing anyone said about the ring or the bag changed how valuable the ring was on the inside. One girl in particular was mulling this through. I could tell she was working hard on sorting this information out. Once Amy declared the truth about the ring—that it is beautiful and valuable no matter what anyone says about it—the little girl’s face lit up. I saw her make the connection and learn the lesson that I’m still trying to learn: nothing anyone says about you and nothing about your outside appearance takes away from the truth that you are valuable beyond measure.

Artfully Made Yoga Class with Amy Myers and Paint Love

After this discussion, we did a short yoga flow. This was a super fun yoga class compared to the ones I usually attend. Giggles abounded! I toppled over during one pose and spurred on the giggles even further. Throughout this whole time, Amy was reinforcing the affirmations and truths about our value. At the end of the flow, we layed in the resting pose, savasana. Amy repeated the affirmations and truths about us and gave us the opportunity to let these soak deep into our hearts.

When we woke up from our resting pose, a few of the girls had tears in their eyes. Amy and I both shared a look. This occasionally happens in yoga. The poses really awaken deep feelings and tears are sometimes the result. It’s surprising what yoga can bring up! The tears are a way for those feelings to get out of the body. You’re on the path to healing!

After the yoga, we had a group discussion. Amy asked the girls if they have ever been called a mean name. What was that experience like. Some of the stories the girls shared were so familiar. I think as an adult you imagine your own struggles to be so much bigger than a child’s struggles. But when you get right down to it, they share the same themes: feeling alone, like you don’t belong, like you’re not wanted, like you’re not enough. It’s the same whether you’re in fourth grade or you’re forty years old. A child’s insight is incredible. They can can teach you things in a heartbeat that would otherwise take years to learn. The truth is that you are valuable beyond measure—and nothing can change that.