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Art with a Purpose
“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” — Aristotle
Nasco is inspired to share how art changes the world through real examples in art education. Teachers are not only teaching the disciplines of art but also character education and service learning. Nasco’s goal is to be an advocate for art education and to connect teachers and students to share how they are impacting their schools, community, and our world through their art. We are interested in hearing how you are using your art for a purpose.
Michael Reagan — Fallen Heroes
After seeing his charity work on TV, Cherise Johnson comissioned Michael Reagan to create a portrait of her late husband Michael, a corpsman, who had lost his life serving his country in Iraq. This was the beginning of Michael’s life’s work and the reason he started his Fallen Heroes, a non-profit organization.
Michael typically creates two portraits a day of fallen heroes and has completed over 15,000 portraits so far in his career.
“I am a Marine Vietnam Combat Veteran. I know what it is to lose friends in war, firsthand. It drives me because some days I am pretty tired and very sad. But I know if I do what I am supposed to do, a family somewhere of someone I didn?t know can feel a little better if I do their portrait.”
On March 25, 2015, the Medal of Honor Society gave Michael the “Civilian Service Before Self” Honors Medal, or the Civilian Medal of Honor, at Arlington Cemetery.
“As a veteran, I couldn’t believe it was happening until a Medal of Honor recipient told me after the ceremony that choosing me was a unanimous decision. He commented that I had no idea what I was doing for the families. It’s something I wear when I talk with great pride.”
Debi West — Art with a Purpose Projects
Over the years my students have participated in Empty Bowls, Pinwheels for Peace, The Memory Project, Relay for Life, and a Visualizing Virtue yearlong theme based curriculum. I call these combined projects “Art with Purpose.” The curriculum allows students to connect to and reflect on community needs through their artistic skills. I believe art saves lives. My students have raised over $25,000 to help others.
Debi West, Art Teacher PK–5
North Gwinnett High School
Debi is a pioneer and leader in her efforts to teach “Art with a purpose.” Nasco applauds her efforts and wants to share more stories on how art educators are teaching “Art with a purpose.”
Lucy Belle’s Rainbow — Make Art & Smile
To all who knew Lucy, it was apparent that she viewed life through an artist’s eyes. She lived to find the beauty in everyone and all things she encountered. Upon her departure, she left the world a more beautiful place.
To honor Lucy Belle Perkin’s life and her love of art we have begun an initiative to provide art supplies for children receiving cancer treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
There is a great need for art supplies for the children who are receiving chemo and go to the playroom daily. In addition, we are going to provide individual art kits for each child receiving cancer treatment. These children have compromised immune systems so they cannot share supplies. Your students can help by collecting art supplies.
In addition to collection, students can write notes and or make cards with a rainbow theme and our tagline “Make Art & Smile” to pack with the supplies.
To learn more or ask us a question, contact us at [email protected]
Angie Szabo — Tomorrow’s Hope Mosaic Project
A mosaic mural, created in partnership with Tomorrow’s Hope and the Fort Atkinson High School art department, was unveiled in Fort HealthCare’s mezzanine.
The President for Tomorrow’s Hope brought a photo and story to me, and I presented the project to a group of students in a week-long summer school class. We wanted a piece that showed the community helping those in need. The mural represents all of us coming together to support people that need help. The mural is a mosaic of glass pieces that create an image of people holding up rocks. They are made up of mirror tiles, so that every person who looks at the mural becomes part of it. The people holding up the rocks symbolize a community holding up individuals’ worries.
Several students and I took the mural to Hope Fest during the summer and had individuals participate by writing their own worries that weigh them down on the rocks. Having people participate made us understand the importance and impact of this art piece for people who would come up and write words like “cancer,” “anxiety,” and “depression”. They would cry. We would see them take a deep breath. There was a variety of very emotional reactions, and I think it was important for us to see that. This was something that affected people strongly and in a good way. They were able to take some of their stress and have someone else come and take a part of that.
Titled “Lifting,” the mosaic features a poem by Leann Lehner, director of the Jefferson Public Library. It states: “When the weight is too much, our ability to lift each other up is what matters most.”
Fort HealthCare President thanked those who participated in the art project, noting that they have left a legacy of something that the hospital can be proud of for years to come. While begun by the summer school art students, the mural took almost a year-and-a-half to complete due to its complexity. Several area businesses also participated in the project by donating supplies.
Fort Atkinson High School
Fort Atkinson, WI
Angie Szabo — Niedecker Poetry Project
History and art come together to reflect the words of the late Fort Atkinson poet Lorine Niedecker at Fort Atkinson High School in the first of multiple planned poetry projects within the School District of Fort Atkinson. Niedecker has been described as “one of America's best unknown poets”. She spent much of her life on Blackhawk Island, west of Fort Atkinson. Known internationally, the late poet only recently has been more widely recognized within her home state.
The art project at Fort Atkinson High School, sponsored by the Friends of Lorine Niedecker, was created to help the community get to know Niedecker and her work by connecting the downtown mural featuring her poetry to the schools throughout the district.
Students first broke off into teams using different Niedecker poems for inspiration. A digital arts class then took photos of places around the high school they thought would make interesting places for a mural. From there, the class created digital samples of mural designs throughout the school, incorporating Niedecker’s poetry. We took different elements of each student’s design, ultimately deciding on the poem that now can be seen in the high school.
The poem reads:
to see the lake
the still sky
out for an easy
the dragonfly. (Granite Pail 61)
The poem then went to my advanced sculpture class where they decided it would be interesting to incorporate the unit they had just finished – stained glass. And, as art does, it just kind of developed from there. The window design is made up of several elements, including stained glass, metal work and vinyl lettering donated by the Fort Arts Council.
Besides creating the art, the students took a trip to Lorinne’s home on Blackhawk Island to better understand her poetry. Being there, being that close to the water and seeing the things she writes about in her poems, it all starts to come together a little bit. You connect with it. Once you do learn more about her and more about her life, the poetry starts to make more sense. To see what she was going through when she wrote this poem was cool. Most of the students never had heard of Niedecker, except for the mural downtown, so the project itself was a good start to introducing the poet to the community.
The project was a good experience for the students, to make art for the public rather than for themselves, and to understand what it really is like to be an artist. The art piece took about two months to complete. Besides the poem on the front doors, students created several paintings based on Niedecker’s work that will be placed around the school. A ceramic tree branch also will go above a set of lockers.
It’s not just people that work or attend the school that see the mural, but it’s a large part of our community, as well as all the other people that come to the school. Now there is something about the high school that is special and different. When people walk into our school, they will see that art is part of our school. If they are coming for a game, they will see it’s not just the trophies in the case, but that art is part of what we do, too. There is more to our school than just one thing. It is many different things that are important, and many different kids that we reach and work with.
Fort Atkinson High School
Fort Atkinson, WI
Karen Derrico — Painting for Paws Fundraising Program
Painting for Paws is a fundraising program where contributors can explore their inner artist for a good cause!
We team with local animal rescue shelters for “paint night” charity events at various locations in New York and New Jersey. The shelters we work with desperately need all the help they can get to continue their (literally) life-saving work.
Contributors pay a modest fee for a multi-hour art lesson, with myself as the instructor. All supplies are included and at the end of a fun-filled night of food, raffles, and conversation, everyone gets to take home their new work of art.
In addition to raising funds that go directly to the shelters, our program has helped to spread awareness about shelter animals and the need for fosters. It also supports our local businesses that host the events. It’s a win for everyone involved!
Together, through art, we have so far raised over $25,000 — which has saved many shelter animals that would have otherwise been euthanized.
Sarah Zimmer — Burgard Students Create Artwork for Zoo Fundraiser
Art students from Burgard High School made their second annual donation of artwork to the Buffalo Zoo. The student work, which included a variety of mediums (linoleum prints, scratch board, and ink Zen tangling), was framed and presented to a representative from the Buffalo Zoo.
The artwork was part of the silent auction at Polar Bites 2015, the Buffalo Zoo’s annual fundraiser that was held at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.
The students are not only proud to showcase their talents and accomplishments, but they have an extreme sense of pride knowing their work is going to help a great cause.
Photo from left to right: Dasarath Chapagai, KayLeigh Kubiak, Lamar Louie, Imia Atkinson, Marc Pinero, and Mariah Starks.
Sarah Zimmer, Art Teacher
Burgard High School
Third Street Elementary School — Printing for a Purpose
An artist friend of Nasco’s visited Third Street Elementary School in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, where she created artwork with classes ranging from grades K-6. She showed them how to do Mono Printing on a soft pad and they had a lot of fun learning to use different techniques and color combinations. By the time all the classes were done, the artist had hundreds of prints. After she went back home, she proceeded to do collage work with the prints. Once the collages were all framed, she had beautiful pieces of art! Next, she posted them on a social media page and auctioned them off. The proceeds of the auction went to support the local food pantry in Black River Falls, which assists some of the families with children attending Third Street Elementary School. Included is Jen Dahl’s picture as she is the amazing art educator who helps these students with so much more than just art!
Jen Dahl, Art Educator
Third Street Elementary School
Black River Falls, WI
Pamela Boudreaux — Worry Dolls
At St. Joseph Catholic School, I used art to teach lessons about basic Christian principles, such as faith, love, and compassion. In a lesson themed “All About Me,” I asked my 7th grade students to be introspective and determine what type of person they would want to be. Their answers aligned perfectly with those Christian principles, with responses such as kind, giving, and compassionate. To incorporate our faith and artistic talents into service for others, we began the Worry Doll Project. We spent 3 weeks of class time making these small dolls out of yarn, each one as different as the child who made it. The students designed and handcrafted these dolls all the while knowing they would not be allowed to keep their creations for themselves. They put their time, care, and love into each doll, knowing the main purpose would be to brighten someone else’s day. All of the dolls were then delivered to the local hospital and given to children upon admission. Each doll was accompanied by a poem written by one of our students, offering a prayer of hope or a word of encouragement for the doll's recipient.
It brought me such great pride to watch these students put so much time and care into each doll, making sure every stitch was done properly, each color woven beautifully. And it brought the students a sense of joy and pride as well. They expressed how much it meant to them to hear stories of children in the hospital who were given one of these special “Worry Dolls,” knowing it was their labor of love and faith that had brought a smile to a child during an otherwise unhappy time.
Pamela Boudreaux, Art Educator
St. Joseph Catholic School
Fort Atkinson, WI
SuzAnne Devine Clark — The Starfish Project — It Mattered to me!
For several years the students at Deerfield Beach Elementary School have participated in Art From The Heart — Projects With A Purpose in my art class. We create art, ask for a donation and give the money raised to a worthy cause. As a result of a grant I received I decided to collaborate with Wings for Angels and The Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Foundation in order to empower my students to use their creativity when making art to help other children.
We talked about Tolerance, Respect, Kindness, Compassion and Courage and our responsibility to make a difference. I read “The Starfish Story” adapted from a poem by Loren Eisley and discussed with my students how each one of them can and will make a difference by participating in this project. They will see how their own artwork has a voice and can directly impact another child’s life.
Each student made a starfish necklace or ornament and is donating the money for the starfish to the Believe In Tomorrow House By The Sea in Ocean City, Maryland. Other students have made paintings and drawings for the beach house as well as clay starfish and wind chimes that will be placed in the healing garden at the house. The kids are really excited knowing that their artwork will be on display at the beach house to be enjoyed by many families and that they can help be a positive light in their world. Some students have even asked if they could send their starfish necklaces to the kids that visit the beach house so they can wear them. Their idea and necklace is now going to be incorporated into the gift basket that each family receives when they arrive at the house.
Never underestimate the power of a child. I am constantly amazed and inspired by the compassion of my students each time we participate in Art From The Heart — Projects With A Purpose and I truly believe that I get more out of the process than them!
SuzAnne Devine Clark, Art Teacher PK–5
Deerfield Beach Elementary School
Deerfield Beach, FL
NBCT Early and Middle Childhood/Art
The Hawthorne Community Kiosk — A School and Neighborhood Create an Art Legacy
“Unity, Diversity, Learning, Playing, Respect, Friends, Community, Home Place”
The Hawthorne Kiosk is a beautiful mosaic gateway welcoming all to the Hawthorne neighborhood and Hawthorne Elementary School in Madison, Wisconsin. My students, grades K-5, designed and created clay tiles which celebrate their cultural heritage and the people, places, and beliefs that make our neighborhood a unique place to live.
Community involvement at all age levels was the keystone to the success of our project. The K-5 students brainstormed their ideas and made clay tiles from their drawings. Middle and high school age siblings and friends pieced together the mosaic tiles into 42 "story blocks" during Summer Art Camp at the East Madison Community Center. Parents, children, and neighbors came to community art nights to complete the tiles and pediments on summer evenings. One of our grandparents, a tile expert, installed the pediments with the help of parents, and I began cementing tiles to the exterior pillars.
Building the kiosk was a powerful learning experience for me. Three years in the making, the project renewed my belief that the arts are a powerful catalyst for community action and engagement. In a school rich in cultural diversity and where 70% receive subsidized meals, increasing family engagement is a high priority. The Kiosk with the central message board allows us to post events in English, Spanish, and Hmong, enabling us to reach all our families.The Hawthorne Kiosk is a legacy to joining together through the arts. In Fall 2013, we added a Little Free Library with tiles depicting the children’s favorite book characters. Next? Mosaic reading benches!
Julie D. Olsen, Art Educator
Hawthorne Elementary School
Kari Ratka — We have Dreams Too
This project is a 5-foot tall mural made of hundreds of pieces of construction paper tesserae. Each of our school’s nearly 1,200 K-5 students wrote a dream they have for the future on one of these scraps of paper. The words are in a mix of both English and Spanish as we are a dual-language school. Every classroom and teacher throughout school was involved in the writing portion of the project. In the art room, the scraps (in a range of colors), were then collaged into the larger piece. The color scheme and portrait image were inspired by the political portraits of artist Shepard Fairey (famous for President Obama’s "Hope" campaign image).
As one gets close to the work, they see that the face of Martin Luther King Jr. is filled with words... dreams of future careers, hopes for our students' families, and wishes for the world. We titled the piece “We Have Dreams Too.” My goal throughout the creation of this large-scale, collaborative work was that our students understand how powerful both words and images can be, and it seemed appropriate to teach this lesson by highlighting the life of someone who embodies that principle.
My teaching philosophy is simple: the arts have the power to transform kids’ lives.
Kari Ratka, Art Teacher & Arts Integration Coordinator
Berkshire Elementary School
West Palm Beach, FL
Duck Tape® — Pledging to Stick Together against Bullying
Stick Together® is a character education program offered to schools by Project Love and Duck Tape® in an effort to provide a fun and different way for students to explore the important social-emotional learning concepts of kindness and sticking together to combat bullying and negative behaviors in schools. This program can be presented by your own counselors, teachers, principals or high school students.
Learn more at https://www.duckbrand.com/Promotions/StickTogether.
Lori Taylor — Push Pin Art
Cambridge Middle School unveiled a beautiful piece of artwork in the school cafeteria on Monday, February 8, 2016.
The 8th grade Advanced Art students chose to create a portrait of our well-loved late secretary, Sharon Moore, and assembled a 3 ft. x 5 ft. portrait made from approximately 10,000 push pins.
Lori Taylor, art teacher at CMS, coordinated the event to try to include all students and staff at the middle school adding the push pins.
Bob Willis used his computer knowledge and skill to create the 1/2" pixelized colored grid of Sharon to put the push pins into. Using only 5 colors of push pins — red, yellow, blue, black and white — makes a person’s eyes blend the colors. Dennis Wood and Tim Leppla designed and made the frame for the large piece to be permanently hung in the school cafeteria.
Thank you to all that helped, supported, and were a part of this endeavor! This was truly a labor of love!
Lori Taylor, Art Teacher
Cambridge Middle School
Tasha Newton — Giving Bowls Charity Event
Fall Creek Middle School’s Art Department has held an Annual Giving Bowls Charity Event for eight years in a row. Dinner and a bowl could be purchased, as well as additional bowls.
This year’s theme was “Art is Out of this World.” Students in Kindergarten through 5th grade created art and bowls for this event, and all proceeds went to support the local community cupboard.
Tasha Newton, Art Educator
Fall Creek Elementary & Middle School
Fall Creek, WI
International Interdependence Hexagon Project
The Hexagon Project is a visual arts opportunity for young people ages 4–18 worldwide.
The project asks young people to create art within the infinitely inter-linking shape of a Hexagon — a metaphor for interconnectedness.
We believe that young people throughout the world should have opportunities to explore global themes, issues and ideas in school. We believe that arts are vehicles for this exploration. We believe that through critical thinking, research and taking a stand on one’s beliefs and understandings, changes in attitudes, awareness and, subsequently, action can occur. We believe it is crucial for young people to confront, question and reconsider attitudes and beliefs as part of their responsibilities as citizens of their country and the world, for their own personal growth and creation of self.
We at the Interdependence Hexagon Project call this Art into Action; Action into Art.
Learn more at www.hexagonproject.org.