S.T.E.A.M, Social Justice, and the Environment

What did Art Works Now do at the Chelsea School?

Photography by Juliana Molina

Art Works Now facilitated the creation of three murals with students from Chelsea School and Parkdale High School. This project invited youth to develop and create public art with support from professional teaching artists. The project combined Common Core Standards, goals of the Whole Child Initiative, Best Practices in Art Education, and elements of Action Research to create a high quality art making experience with lasting results in the community.

How did we bring together students from Parkdale and Chelsea School?

Photography by Juliana Molina

Art Works Now was contacted by Eileen Cave, from the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council, to brainstorm ways to approach a workshop that will be used to instruct teachers on how to work with the community to accomplish large projects. Art Works Now’s gallery project, art matters, recently hosted an exhibition of young artists from Parkdale High School’s International Baccalaureate Program. The artists spoke deeply and passionately about social justice issues around the themes of social equality, domestic violence, and healing. Given their interest in social justice, we thought that this was an amazing opportunity to offer these teens a chance to assist other students in creating murals for Chelsea School, a private school for children with learning differences.

The idea was that best practices for community arts would demonstrate a physical reach across the boundaries of developmental ability and we wanted a diverse pool of artists and community voices to lead the way in this collaboration.

What were the themes of the murals?

Photography by Juliana Molina

The students divided into three teams to design and create three murals. The themes of the murals were Social Justice, The Environment, and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.) The Social Justice team created a multi-panel mural that speaks about the justice system, workforce equality, LGBTQ rights, personal identity, racial equality, and socio-economic equality. The Environment team created a landscape mural with earth and sky containing imagery and symbols that bring to mind the issues that students were most concerned about, including humanity living in an unbalanced way with nature and the uncertainty that could result from this imbalance. The S.T.E.A.M. team created a fantastical steam engine that speeds through the hallway, towing cars representing each letter of S.T.E.A.M.

Who were the teaching artists who led each group?

Photography by Juliana Molina

The facilitator of each team possesses unique visions in their personal art making and teaching styles. They are Art Works Now teaching artist Alma Selimovich (also a member of Otis Street Studios), Art Works Now teaching artist, Jolan Emamali, and local Red Dirt Studio Artist, Whitney Waller.

This model of collaboration, art, and learning is the first round of projects. Art Works Now is seeking funders and schools who wish to collaborate on projects in the future!

If you are interested please contact us at info@artworksnow.org

Other completed projects:

Art Works Now has completed a second mural for Hyattsville Elementary School with Melissa Glasser and the Hyattsville Elementary 5th Grade Class.

Art Works Now collaborated with students and community members from Gladys Noon Spellman to design and assemble signage for the school during an Earth Day Beautification Celebration.

Juliana Molina