By Lacey Luce
Once in a while I get to do something so cool that I have to take a moment and just appreciate my job. I had such a moment last month when I went to visit one of the Art in the House classes working on the centerpieces for the Oct. 15 Community Arts Partnership awards.
This particular class was at Central Community House being taught by Richard Duarte Brown and was filled with kids aged 5-12.
Here is what I witnessed—joy. Everyone in that room was having fun. When you get a group of people into one space and allow them to just create, the energy is palpable.
The Art with Duarte class was following a template the Duarte had created for their centerpieces. (I have no idea what the other classes did, but I can’t wait to see.) Earlier the students had created a base for their sculptures. Using leftover tiles from the Sign Your Art project, they had painted abstract designs on each tile, which would then be affixed to small fence stakes. On this particular day the students were working on figures that would later be cut out and decoupaged on to the previously painted tiles.
I saw cheerleaders, monsters, creatures and I think an alien as the kids simply let their imagination go. I watched as Duarte encouraged the students while also teaching them how to mix colors, conserve supplies, and care for their equipment (no putting the brushes back brush side down please).
Part of me wanted to sit down and join them, but I also didn’t want to intrude. This was their time. I only wish I had had a program like this and a teacher like Duarte when I was a kid.
Art in the House and partner program, TRANSIT ARTS, are two of the programs provide by Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (OAAE) and their mission is to ensure that the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. That’s a pretty good mission and the Greater Columbus Arts Council supports it by giving a portion of the CAP awards proceeds to OAAE.
Art in the House serves children ages 5-11; TRANSIT ARTS serves youth ages 12-21 and beyond. The programs share funding, human resources, supplies, space, knowledge and experience. In 2014 the two art programs served 1,024 individual children, teens, and young adults through year-round arts programs, public exhibitions and performances, and more than 50 internships and paid apprenticeships. They have also served the CAP awards for 20 years by creating approximately 50 one-of-a-kind centerpieces.
Those are great numbers and stats. It’s an incredible program. But none of those numbers measure up to how it felt to be in that room.