When I lived in Indianapolis and had recently become a full time artist, I was asked to do an art lesson at the local high school where I had been involved previously through coaching and mentoring. A friend was in charge of the detention hall where kids were sent before they were expelled. She was hoping art would be a nice activity for an afternoon session, so I came to help make that happen.
Because it was an optional activity, she made no promises that anybody would actually show up. So, I was surprised when almost every kid made it into the room and sat down to paint.
My idea was to lead them through my process and do a small painting together, but after a couple minutes of me talking and demonstrating, I realized no one was watching what I was doing. But it wasn't because they weren't bored or distracted. Each of kids was focused and working on the canvas in front of them.
Since that was the goal anyway, I decided to stop my plan and simply walk around and look at what they were doing.
Now you have to understand that most of the kids in that school come from poverty and pretty rough situations. I hadn't really expected them to show such interest in art, but then I started noticing what they were painting. Each of them was painting something significant. Their art was expressing something deep inside of them. Several of them were making homages to deceased loved ones or friends. Others were using color and images to show what they were dealing with in life.
What I experienced that day has stayed with me and been on my heart. I realized the importance of art for each of us, because art connects with our souls. Those kids were communicating things through art they may not have been able to communicate in any other way. I was honored to have that glimpse into their hearts and thought how amazing it would be if they could keep moving forward with art.
The problem is that art costs money. If you're a kid from a family that doesn't have extra cash, you probably won't have an opportunity to express yourself in that sort of creative way. When you're poor, spending money on anything other than survival is basically out of the question. Which means there are thousands of kids who are creative and artistically talented who lack the opportunity to grow into who they could be.
But wouldn't it be amazing to see these young people flourishing? Wouldn't it be incredible to watch them stride forward and be part of their encouragement? That's what we dream about here at Acrylic University, and it's why I'm thrilled to announce we are working to do a small part in this great mission. We are piloting something called our Art Access Program!
The goal is to provide young people (who wouldn't otherwise have it) access to:
We plan to launch in November with a small group of students who will be connected locally with a mentor from a partner organization.
To help raise the money for the art supplies, we will be donating 10% of the gross sales from my art show "Radiant Landscapes" which is happening October 5-12 at Sunnyshore Studio.
The other amazing thing is that if you purchase a painting, you will automatically receive one full year of access to Acrylic University - for you or anyone you would want to give it to! What this means, is that when you buy a painting, you will be getting a lot and giving a lot!
All the work will be available online at SunnyShoreStudio.com
Sign up below if you'd like to receive notification by email when the show is up. Thank you for your helping us give art to the next generation!
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