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Family Paint Night

I continue to be so grateful for the opportunity to help create connections all over the country through The Community Circle Project. Friday evening, on February 26, it was my honor do this as the guest artist at “Paint Night: Your Family is a Work of Art.”

The virtual night of family art making was made possible by the generous support of a grant from the Foundation for West Hartford Public Schools and the Office of Equity Advancement.

There are so many challenges in the world but, luckily, there are so many good people focused on positivity and connection. That long list includes the folks who made the paint night possible and  successful: Penelope Drown, a visual arts teacher at Charter Oak International Academy in West Hartford, Conn.; Pamela Murphy, visual arts supervisor for the district of West Hartford; and Timothy Kessler, secondary remote learning principal for the West Connecticut Public Schools.

Penelope first learned about The Community Circle Project from Nasco Education (where I facilitated the project during a Maker Monday event at the invitation of the wonderful Kris Bakke, customer engagement manager at Nasco Education). Penelope reached out to me to find out more, and that interaction led to my guest artist presentation during the Family Paint Night series.

It was so inspiring to work with Penelope, Pam and Tim. Their professionalism and passion for supporting families is truly impressive. I was touched to be virtually invited into the homes of nearly 30 families to engage in creativity and work on circles that highlight what family members value most.

Families are, indeed, a work of art. They are portraits of the past, the present and the dreams for the future. Families shape the world generation after generation with the choices made and the values that are passed forward. In that way, we are all a part of a global family.

During my presentation, I shared a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. that perfectly expresses this idea (imagine the world if we all lived these words):

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.”

 

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Remote learning

North Carolina students share their views on COVID-19

Dawn Louis-Jean, an art teacher at Ascend Leadership Academy in Sanford, N.C., teaches students in grades six through 12. At the start of the school year, she used The Community Circle Project as one of the first assignments.

“We are doing all virtual learning, so their whole lives have changed from last year. I wanted to let them talk about how Covid-19 has impacted and, perhaps, permanently changed their lives,” she said.

Students were given a supply list for the project and parents purchased supplies on their own. Fifty students created these amazing circles.

A big thank-you to Dawn and her students for sharing their thoughts through creativity.

 

 

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Remote learning

Kelly Betz uses circles to connect during virtual class

This summer Kelly Betz, an art educator in the Glenwood Elementary School District of Greenfield, used the Community Circle Project during the district’s Virtual Summer School Program in Wisconsin. In the “Art Studio” she taught Betz engaged 25 students in grades three through six, ages  7 to 11, in creating circles.

She shared two circles here made by sixth grader Piper Schick and fourth grader Maddix Malkovich.

Decorative circle
By Piper Schick
Decorative circle
By Maddix Malkovich

“Due to the nature of virtual learning, connecting can be a struggle—especially in the case of my program, which had students from around the district whom I never met,” said Betz. “As a way to get to know the students, I gave them the prompt to create a circle about themselves our first day.”

Students we asked to create a self-portrait or favorite place in the center of the circle and then symbols about themselves along the outside rings. They could use as many symbols, patterns and designs as desired and whatever materials they wanted. 

“What drew me to using the Community Circle Project is that it has so many possibilities for what can be created and how learners can interpreted the idea,” Betz said. “Just the idea of a portrait and symbols gave such an amazing range of results and led to discussions about their symbols and why they picked them. It was beneficial in creating a connection between myself and these students whom I never met face to face.

“I became more than just a face on a screen telling them what to do; I became someone they could ask questions of and talk to about their day as we drew together. It created community and trust during our short time ‘together,’ which is extremely important with creating.”