I’ve worked with Des Moines kids since 1980. Sometimes it’s hard to be optimistic when the challenges seem to multiply each year. But this article and the statistics it uses to illustrate its points provides some tangible examples of progress.
This morning I taught art to half a dozen boys who attend a group home for various problems they’ve had at home. We start each week with an art journal. Today more than one boy started their journals with, “I hate my life.”
I gradually introduced different media, first crayons. I asked the boys to experiment with using different pressure, and mixing different colors. Then I passed out watercolors and had them paint over their crayon drawings and see what happened.
They really got excited when I put their watercolor paper under the faucet and told them to go experiment with putting watercolor on it. They tried brushing, splattering, dripping. Their attempts produced a variety of results, but the product isn’t the point with these young men.
The point is building self confidence and a sense of mastery. Using simple tools and media gives these boys a chance to succeed, to produce something they’re proud of, whether it’s for the spring show or to take home to decorate their rooms.
Last week we built structures per Andy Goldsworthy. First we watched the movie Rivers and Tides as well as a satire my cousin created. The idea of just creating a piece of art was a little too abstract, so I asked them to build structures. They learned collaboration, creativity, perseverance and problem solving through the activity.