From the Great Lakes to the nation’s capital, Department staff and guests were proud to welcome the talented student artists, their fellow students, and their teachers and parents to the Concept Schools Student Art Exhibit opening in Barnard auditorium on March 31. Some 130 charter school students, representing 18 Concept Schools from six states (Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin), were in attendance to both celebrate their own artwork on display at the Department and support their fellow students’ work.
To kick off the program, Acting Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement Nadya Chinoy Dabby welcomed guests to the Department and thanked Concept Schools’ families for making the long journey to share their children’s work. According to Dabby, “Arts education … at Concept Schools … is an essential part of a well-rounded educational experience.” She said that her high school education at an arts magnet school “helped nurture a lifelong appreciation for the arts.” Speaking on behalf of the Department, Dabby said, “We believe … that all children should have access to great arts instruction … no matter where you grow up or what school you go to.”
Next, Concept Schools President Sedat Duman expressed his appreciation for the Department, students, staff, teachers, and parents for making the exhibit and opening a success. He introduced a video describing the nationally recognized work that Concept Schools does to prepare students for higher education. According to the video, about 90 percent of Concept students go on to college.
Horizon Science Academy Cleveland High School art teacher Jennifer Cooper spoke eloquently about her passion, being an educator. “I am an art teacher. It is my job to make kids feel safe. Safe enough to, then, jump out of their skin and figure out what makes them creative,” she said. Cooper explained that she often has to teach subjects beyond simply art, including “practice, focus, (and) trial and error.” Cooper reiterated that art is everywhere and is a part of everything in culture and society. Said Cooper, “You can’t have ‘smart’ without art!”
In a video greeting, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio thanked the students whose work is in the exhibit, and their parents and teachers, and echoed the main theme of the day — that “music and the arts are essential to a well-rounded education.” Concept Schools understands “the importance of the arts to help our students achieve (their) full potential,” said Brown.
Horizon Science Academy Columbus High School student Erind Koci and the Horizon Science McKinley Park Pink Techno Bots robotics team closed the exhibit by demonstrating their award-winning robots. Despite being in middle school, the Pink Techno Bots students have won several awards in high school-level competitions, including Best Rookie Team Award at a Chicago Math and Science Academy competition. The student-built robots provided real-life examples of how design combines with technology through the nexus of the arts and the sciences, mirroring art teacher Jennifer Cooper’s words that art is everywhere.
Following closing remarks by Jackye Zimmermann, director of the Student Art Exhibit Program, the students whose work is in the exhibit gathered for group photos and the ceremonial ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Several student artists shared informative insights into their work and what being an artist means to them:
- Eleventh-grader at Horizon Science Academy in Cleveland, Ohio, Hannah Zak, said she finds inspiration for her art everywhere, including, in the case of her piece, Desert Sunset, a calendar in her classroom. She said that art allows her to express herself, and she is considering pursuing it in in college.
Aylisa Grenald, a ninth-grader, said that she sees art as an integral part of her life and likes to “do art everywhere.” A fitting example of her art-in-the-everyday worldview is evident in her piece, Still Life With Winter Gear, a colored pencil rendering of dirty clothes on her bedroom floor. Grenald said she is “always thinking of art” and her art classes at Horizon Science Academy, in Lorain, Ohio, give her creativity direction and an outlet into the world.
- According to Noble Academy eighth-grader Hadia Selim, art allows her to “do everything” and gives her “a voice.” Her untitled self-portrait depicts herself as a baby with her two older sisters, and incorporates patterns and text into the background. Art, Selim believes, has the ability to portray the past while illuminating the future and teaching people to be better citizens. She incorporated the word “love” in the background of the piece to represent something important that “the world needs to learn.”
View the exhibit through the end of the month in the lobby of the LBJ Education Building at 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20202.
For more information, contact Nicole Carinci at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to view more photos from the event.
Nicole Carinci is a management and program analyst in the Office of Communications and Outreach.
All photos are by ED official photographer Leslie Williams.