Saturday, June 26, 2010

End of Year Art

I recently finished the school year with my second round of 8th graders. It was joyous - this is the first year that all the students on my caseload graduated! And they were all very happy for the end of the school year and new beginnings. However, it was also sad for me because I will miss all of them and wonder how they are doing in high school... I will wonder if some are still in gangs, if they are all going to school and doing their homework, if they are talking with their parents, practicing managing their anger, or seeking help when they are feeling depressed. But, this is not meant to be a sad blog...Instead I want to highlight a few end-of-the-year projects which give me great hope for them because it shows just how resilient, creative, smart, and caring they are....

Obviously I love art for awareness, and I try to sneak this value in with my social work projects. More importantly, however, I believe that art can be very therapeutic. It lets you open up, share something about yourself, let your guard down, reflect on/evaluated your beliefs and feelings, and observe others' perspectives, beliefs, and experiences in a non-threatening way. So here are just a few projects that highlight how art can do these amazing things!

This was a bulletin board in my office that all of my students helped to create (some in small groups and some individually). The students wrote down things they do that are in their comfort zone and placed these inside the sun. They were so interested in what others were comfortable doing, as it varied for everyone (i.e. doing math, playing video games, drawing, etc). The suns rays show those things that are outside their comfort zone but are important for them in order to grow and overcome obstacles (i.e. math again, a presentation, trying out for a team, etc):

This is a bulletin board outside my office with a quote by Publilious Syrus, "A good reputation is more valuable than gold." This project was done with a classroom group. We talked a lot about choices, consequences, values...and tied this into goals they had written earlier in the school year. They thought about their goals and values and how they want other people to see them. They were so creative and took so much time in creating their "ideal self."

I work in a community that experiences a lot of violence. A lot of my students are desensitized to violence, probably for a variety of reasons, such as seeing so much violence in video games and movies, but also experiencing it at home and on the streets. As you might guess, many of my students respond that violence is not a big deal and are very nonchalant about violence when we are talking in my office. They also lack empathy for their classmates when they are a perpetrator or witness. This project was meant to look at how they have been affected by different kinds of violence, process how they felt about it, and decide what they wanted their classmates and teachers to know about their experiences or about violence in general. They created t-shirts with their messages and these were hung in the school cafeteria (same project I blogged about last year).





  1. some of these kids really put their heart and soul into those t-shirts huh?

    Some really powerful stuff.

  2. Those are some great shirts... I can see that there's a lot of meaning behind them.