“Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist once they grow up.” Pablo Picasso
For the last five years, the Kane County Regional Office of Education has encouraged art instruction in the Juvenile Justice Center academic program. While originally art classes were offered exclusively in the summer, it is now offered at various times throughout the school year. The students have taken on a variety of projects including murals, paintings, holiday cards, and sneakers. Due to COVID19, the graphic arts classes were delayed as visitors to the JJC were limited to the most essential personnel. The students’ latest works of art are focused on the garden program.
Under the instruction of graphic arts teacher Catherine Tilley, the students have two art projects planned that will add beauty to the garden beds. The current project that they have completed is the painting of round cement garden pavers. Dr. Deanna Oliver, Assistant Regional Superintendent, worked collaboratively with Ms. Tilley to incorporate the concept of the arts and nature. With the support and approval by the JJC superintendent Mike Davis and principal Ivars Spalis, Oliver and Tilley moved forward with the purchasing of the supplies and developing of the concept. The cement pavers which served as the canvas were purchased from a local home improvement store. The students worked both individually and collaboratively to create the works of art and were permitted the opportunity to paint outdoors in the garden with the fresh air and sunshine. The next project that the students will begin this week is that they will be painting a mural on the concrete sidewalks going into the garden.
Regional Superintendent Pat Dal Santo is very impressed with the skill level of the students. She commented, “the value of arts education cannot be understated; our students at the JJC need at outlet for their creativity.” The students will not only be enjoying the artwork in the garden but also the vegetables that they are responsible for growing. Later in the summer, the students will be taste testing fresh vegetables and incorporating them into different recipes. The science teacher, Ms. Sloan, continues to provide science instruction and guidance with the garden project. Dal Santo also stated that the positive relationship and strong communication with the administration and staff at the JJC has allowed us to provide innovative instruction to our youth. Samples of the paver artwork are shown below: