Local organizations collaborate on new student art partnership

A common goal can lead to the formation of strong community partnerships. Aiming to engage youth in the arts and more educational opportunities, Clark State College, the Springfield Promise Neighborhood, and the Springfield Museum of Art joined forces with Lincoln Elementary School to create an interactive Meet Your Teacher event.

At the late-August event, Lincoln Elementary students were able to create a hands-on art project from polymer clay. The finished artwork will be kiln fired and displayed in the garden at the Springfield Museum of Art throughout September.

Kali Lawrence, Executive Director of Springfield Promise Neighborhood, says Springfield Promise Neighborhood is pleased to help build collaborations between community organizations and the families who live in Springfield's Southside.

“The rich history of the arts in Springfield, coupled with the numerous educational opportunities at Clark State, make for new and interesting programming focused on exploration of the arts, overlapped with career-building,” says Lawrence. “We have a long history of partnerships with Lincoln Elementary - with a new principal this year, and their close proximity to Clark State's campus, it made for an easy match.”

Lawrence says one of the organization's top goals is to connect resources to families to help build their relationships, knowledge, and opportunities, and an understanding of all the amazing things Springfield has to offer. Springfield Promise Neighborhood was established to support the success of Springfield children and families through education and relationships.

“I wanted to make sure that Clark State was a good neighbor to the children growing up in Springfield, particularly on the Southside, where our main campus is located,” says Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State. “I had a vision of engagement for children and families that would include exposure to the multiple resources and, frankly, fun things to do in Springfield, such as visit and feel welcome at the Springfield Museum of Art. The partnership then evolved to create this incredible collaboration with the Art Museum and the Springfield Promise.”

Amy Korpieski, education coordinator at the Springfield Museum of Art, says Blondin is a champion of art, creativity, the museum and the arts in Springfield.

“We have a great museum; we have neighbors at Clark State with families,” she says. "Springfield Promise is doing so much great work being a neighbor, and Clark State is a good family resource. We wanted to build in collaboration with things already happening, like Meet Your Teacher night.

“It was a fabulous way to build a hands-on art experience for families to do that night that will then be featured at the Come Find Art! free, family program at the museum."

The artwork made by students at the Meet Your Teacher event will be displayed at the museum's at Come Find Art! event Sept. 25.

Come Find Art! is an open house-style event from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. with free admission.

Come Find Art! sparks child-adult discussions about works throughout the Museum. It’s a family activity held one Sunday each month, year-round. Each Sunday includes time in Chakeres Interactive Gallery and an artmaking kit to take home.

“It is a lovely, creative time to see creativity, view the galleries and do art hands-on,” says Korpieski. “In September, the beautiful artworks made by the Lincoln Elementary students will be displayed.”

In October, the museum and Clark State will head back to Lincoln Elementary for another hands-on art day. Art created then will be featured at November’s Come Find Art! event and during Thanksgiving break at the museum.

“As an open access institution, we are proud to serve our community and work with amazing partners like the Springfield Museum of Art and Springfield Promise,” says Dr. Dawayne Kirkman, vice president of student affairs at Clark State.

Kirkman says the energy at Lincoln Elementary during the Meet Your Teacher event was exciting. He estimates that up to 80 families were reached.

“The community is part of Clark State’s history,” says Kirkman. “We belong to our community and want to best serve our current, future and prospective students.”

Clark State career services, admissions, and counseling services attended the event and provided activities for the students, including an Art Smart Moment with watercolors and an activity to help students create a resumé. Clark State will return to Lincoln in October for another event, and students will be able to “dress up for their future.”

“Lincoln Elementary has a long history of community partnerships in support of student success. It was a thrilling treat to be able to work with the Promise Neighborhood, Clark State, and the Springfield Museum of Art in order to enhance our back-to-school event,” says Patrick Smith, principal of Lincoln Elementary School. “Guests at the school were able to interact with a wide variety of community members, engage in art therapy, and make connections.

"Lincoln Elementary is both thankful and hopeful about the potentials of this partnership.”

Read more articles by Darci Jordan.