Have you ever observed your child or another intently concentrating on making exuberant flourishes with bright crayons, or watched young ones spread colorful finger paints over smooth paper with their small fingers? If so, then you’ve seen the joyful expressions of art explored and have witnessed creative art in process.
Most of us know that art is important for our children – an opportunity to explore and express themselves – we witness it in our children or through others. But beyond what we feel and believe, there is also much factual information about why art is important in young peoples’ lives.
Creating art expands a youngster's ability to interact with the world around them, and provides them with a new set of skills for self-expression and communication. Not only does art help to develop the right side of the brain, it also cultivates important skills that benefit a child's overall physical and emotional development.
But art goes far beyond the tangible statistics measured by studies -- it can become a pivotal mode of uninhibited self-expression and amazement for a child. You might say that art matters the same way language matters. It is a fundamental component of what makes us uniquely human.
Here at the City, we encourage young artists in a variety of ways.
From now until the end of May, Initial Point Gallery, located on the third floor of Meridian City Hall, will be filled with student art. This month-long exhibit, which includes more than 60 works of art by 40 local school students of all ages, was coordinated by Rocky Mountain High School student Megan Murphy, who is the youth representative member of the Meridian Arts Commission. I hope you’ll take time to come and view the art. It’s colorful, thought-provoking, and as diverse as the creative youngsters who created it. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised and delighted as I always am, by the high level of talent on display. The gallery is free and open to the public on weekdays from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, with the exception of major holidays.
Throughout the year, our Parks and Recreation Department offers a variety of youth art classes at the Meridian Community Center. This summer, local artist Brian Schreiner will instruct a series of themed multi-media art camps for a variety of age groups. Details are available in the Spring/Summer 2012 Activity Guide which you can access from the City of Meridian website.
The Meridian Arts Commission has successfully launched an Artist in Residence program. The program brings professional artists into schools to provide students with an opportunity to make art that would generally be too complex to create in an ordinary classroom setting or without the expertise, instruction, and supplies of a professional artist. This year, students at River Valley Elementary and the Christine Donnell School participated in art projects made possible through this program.
A growing collection of art created by students from Joint School District No. 2 decorates the walls of the Mayor’s Office at City Hall. These winning pieces from the school district’s annual student art competitions include a pencil sketch, a water color, photograph, and oil and acrylic paintings – showcasing the incredible artistic talent being nurtured within our schools.
As youth art continues to play a growing role in our community, I hope you’ll come to see that art education develops self-esteem, appreciation of the work of others, self-expression, cooperation with others, and critical thinking – all skills vital to the success of our future leaders, our children.