Looking at the calendar for March, I came across an interesting and delightful event: Youth Art Month. Not knowing what exactly this was all about—and wishing I had heard about this when I was a child— I went ahead and sought out more information about it.
The month of March is dedicated to highlighting the importance of art education and the support of art in schools. It was established in 1961 and promotes “self-esteem, appreciation of the work of others, self-expression, cooperation with others, and critical thinking skills,” according to the Council for Art Education, Inc. (p. 1).
In Bloomington, Youth Art Month has been celebrated since 1973 and involves a partnership between the Monroe County Community School Corporation (MCCSC), the IU Art Museum, and the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center. Kindergarten through sixth grade students will display their artwork in the museum’s Thomas T. Solley Atrium, from March 1–31.
Cheryl Maxwell, an art teacher with the MCCSC, provided more background about this month-long observation of youth art in the community. Originally, the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center exhibited all K–12 artworks, but the event became so popular that they needed two shows to accommodate all the students and families. Today, the Waldron focuses on displaying local junior high and high school students’ works.
In 1995, Ed Maxedon, the Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator of Education, and Cheryl Maxwell developed an elementary show for the IU Art Museum. In the beginning the only space they had to install an exhibition was the hallway on the mezzanine level, the former “Children’s Corner.” They were able to present thirty pieces of student work. The exhibit received rave reviews from parents and teachers and soon the show grew to include 110 to 120 works from Monroe County schools from grades K–6.
Maxwell also mentioned how MCCSC art teachers are continuously searching for ways to demonstrate the “rich and diverse art” produced by the students. They feel it is important to participate in Youth Art Month as it celebrates young artists. The MCCSC teachers are proud of the partnership with the IU Art Museum. In addition, students also benefit from strong arts programs in all Monroe County schools as well as from art classes at both the Ivy Tech Waldron and IU School of Education.
Cheryl ended our conversation with this statement:
The Youth Art Month show is our chance to demonstrate an advanced art education program taught in the elementary schools. Elementary art teachers meet twice a month in a Professional Learning Community meeting to discuss goals and keep our students current with state standards and best practices. Several [of these] teachers are professional artists as well as teachers. You know you are doing well as educators when you consistently hear parents say each year, “Wow! I didn’t learn things like that until high school.”
On Saturday, March 1, from noon to 1:30 p.m., the IU Art Museum will host a family celebration featuring art-making activities, drawings for prizes, and recognition of the student artists and their teachers. There will also be 7 fifteen-minute tours tailored for each elementary grade level.
With arts education being diminished around the nation, Youth Art Month is a great way to promote the arts and their importance to society and child development.
“What is Youth Art Month?” The Council for Art Education, Inc. 2014. Web. Feb 6 2014 <https://www.arteducators.org/news/Whats_YAM.pdf>.