The unique landscape and cultural traditions of Northern New Mexico have long inspired artists, but sadly, many schools within this beautiful landscape lack art education programming. With the support of the LANL Foundation, ARTSmart NM was able to provide free and subsidized Arts Education during the school day for all students at Dixon and Abiquiu Elementary Schools through its ARTreach program.
By the end of the program sessions, all ARTreach students speak of themselves as artists who make artworks. Students complete several multiple-step artworks that demonstrate proficiency in various concepts, techniques and new vocabulary. Students demonstrate self-discipline by not giving up, completing their work, presenting it and introducing themselves in front of the class during Artist Critique. ARTreach emphasizes personal choice in every class. Students develop and exercise a sense of agency by making choices in the creation of each artwork. They learn to trust themselves, their choices and take creative risks.
"Kids LOVE art and LOVE Ms. Melinda. They always ask in the morning ‘Do we have art today?’. ARTreach encourages attendance. It provides students with an opportunity to be creative, which they would not have otherwise. This program brings out a hidden talent that some did not know they had, and for some of these kids, it’s the only thing they’re good at," said Sophie Forbes, teacher at Abiquiu Elementary School.
"I do notice several of my students that struggle in academics (especially reading) really shine in the ARTreach program. While they may not feel much pride in their reading ability, they do feel great pride in their art abilities. I have one student who cannot focus on academics, but somehow, all his art projects are completed in a timely fashion,” said Becky Delarv, teacher at Abiquiu Elementary School.
Throughout the school year, all Abiquiu students contributed artworks to rotating exhibits in a local café. A community member, who was on a mission to pay forward the early support that inspired him to become a professional woodworker, purchased ten engravings created by 6th graders to integrate their artworks into his Spanish Colonial-style woodwork. Students received $35 each, 100% of the sale, and remarked how great it feels to make money from art and have the community value their work.
Story submitted by Sarah Mandala, ARTsmart Program Director