You might be thinking it’s too late to embrace youth art month. After all, March is more than half over.
Fair enough. Maybe we dropped the ball a little on getting the word out about Youth Art Month (YAM).
But at our arts academy middle school and high school, our educators advocate for quality art education EVERY DAY. So really, it’s never too late to embrace the power of art education.
A (Very Brief) History of YAM
Education needs to be comprehensive. While STEM topics are certainly important, the arts make them even steamier. (See what we did there?)
Arts education is crucial in the development of critical thinking and not merely “drawing and painting for credit.” Employers are hungry for folks who have the exact skills the arts provide. Valuable employees know how to look beyond the specifics of a question and explore a wide array of options. Despite this fact, the arts are the first subjects to get axed every time budget cuts come around.
Disturbed by the increasing lack of arts education focus, the Council for Art Education designated March as “Children’s Art Month.” This was back in 1961. By 1969, the event had grown to include older students.
These days, however, millions of students have no exposure to arts education. YAM is a means to demonstrate how flawed this is on so many different levels.
Great Ways to Embrace Youth Art Month
So what can you do to celebrate YAM? Well, we have a few suggestions you could consider:
1. Focus On a Week of YAM Activities
These don’t have to be complicated.
You could assign the kids to all wear a specific color or color scheme one day. Or have them dress as a subject in a painting. For those who are more adventurous, you could ask them to draw portraits of the teachers or other staff members in the building. Then have an exhibit that showcases these portraits.
It’s a great way to celebrate both the arts and the hardworking people who make school possible and magical.
2. Art As a Charitable Act
Grab some clay and have your students make a pinch pot. They can use these very simple pots as a visual reminder that many people with hunger issues see only empty bowls. This could culminate into a special dinner where family and community members are served soup in these bowls in exchange for a small donation.
The students would be involved in setting up the space and creating the invitations. And the money raised can go to a local food bank. And it all started with a simple bowl.
3. Bring Together Local Artists and Students
One great way to get kids interested in the arts is to have them work with artists in action. Reach out to a few artists in your community who are willing to share their expertise. Let them share what it means to make a living as an artist. Maybe even plan an art exhibit with work they did with the community artist in a coffee shop or library. (You’ll also be promoting the artist.)
4. Create Artist Trading Cards
It’s not usual to find artists living and working among one another. Being around other artists and their artwork is inspirational. Students can be exposed to what other artists are doing by making simple 2×3 cards that showcase their work. They can then trade these cards with other students in their class or school.
If you’re able to connect with other schools across the country (or the planet!) where students make trading cards, you can have your students engage on the national and international levels. Just be sure they sign their art.
5. Get Political
If your students like this infusion of arts into their lives, show them the importance of getting involved on the political level. You can have them develop an artist’s statement, create artwork that they can frame, and then take it to legislators.
Yeah, it might be a big to-do, but if you can pull it off, you may be able to sway these legislators to officially proclaim YAM in your school.
6. Celebrate Vincent Van Gogh
If you’re reading this post shortly after we published it, you haven’t yet missed the anniversary of Van Gogh’s birthday on March 30th! (Aren’t you lucky?) This second-to-last day of March is a great day to close out your YAM celebration by honoring one of the most widely-known artists in the world. Have your students explore their own expression of impressionism. Encourage them to choreograph a dance to Don McLean’s song Vincent. Or invite them to cut off an ear lobe. (Okay. Definitely NOT the last one.)
But you get the point. Get creative. The possibilities are endless.
How Will You Embrace Youth Art Month?
When you embrace Youth Art Month, you’re showing solidarity with art educators across the country who continue to fight the battle to keep the arts alive.
And if you’re the parent of an artistic child, you know just how crucial it is that the arts don’t disappear from schools.
One place where the arts will always thrive is at an arts-integrated middle school or high school like ours. So if you’re curious about how a school like his could benefit your child, contact us today to take a tour of our school.
You will see the true value of art education in action.