smArt Kids is the Art Center’s art outreach program which provides visual arts education to elementary students in the Quincy Public Schools. The smArt Kids Program brings children to the Art Center for a unique art experience. In addition, students will be visited twice in their classrooms for a hands-on art lesson. We get to the heART of the matter below:
I arrived at the classroom early and was waiting for the kids to get back from recess. There was one girl still in the classroom with her head down on the reading table not responding to the teacher who was trying to get her to open up and explain to him what was going on. I gathered that there was a small incident that had happened that led her to remain inside while the others were out at recess and that she was new to the school after just moving to town mid-semester. As the others returned from recess, I began my lesson about Frida Kahlo which included the hands-on activity of creating a self-portrait. Throughout my talking, I noticed her still at the reading table with her head down. I passed out materials for the hands-on portion of the lesson and gently set a paper, pencil, and tempera paints next to her so she could join in if she decided to do so. I am very grateful that she did because as I began to walk around and take them step by step on how to construct a self-portrait she sat up and began to do a wonderful, cartoon-style version of herself, and I must say, for a second grader I was very impressed with her skill and style.
That’s why we do this program. Art is a safe zone. It’s a small, intimate space between the child and their creation where they can reflect, learn, and process without judgment. Unfortunately, because of funding, a lot of schools can’t offer that safe zone to students. Through PTA’s and grants we are able to bring that to the kids. Although it is only twice a year that we get to go into each classroom, on that day a safe zone is exactly what that girl needed. She needed to create something, express her feelings not in words but in art. That was about a year ago now and I can still picture her beautiful piece of art.
-Elizabeth Rankin, smART Kids Program Instructor
Thank you to our current and previous supporters for helping the Art Center create a safe zone for the children of our community:
Tracy Family Foundation, Ameren, Quincy Public Schools Foundation, Community Foundation of the Quincy Area, Kirk Family Foundation, Samantha Otte Foundation, ShopKo Foundation, Adams Electric, Golden Kiwanis: Circle K, Great River Artisans, PTAs and Schools, Q-Fest, Breakfast Kiwanis, Breakfast Optimist Club, Individual Contributions, and The Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.