Dancers, musicians, hula-hoopers and preschoolers gathered throughout the day Thursday on Sanford Mall as part of a community arts project put on by education and dance classes.
Children drew with sidewalk chalk and participated in mimicking dance games, as a large free-form canvas changed form throughout the day with each new addition from passing participants.
Senior arts education major Mindy Hawes began the event as a celebration of National Arts in Education Week, hoping to bring people together and spread awareness through the collaborative and communal aspect of public art, in response to an assignment in professor Alyssia Ruggiero’s class addressing the arts’ value in education.
“It just blew up into a whole class – and other classes,” Hawes said.
Ruggiero’s class teamed together, along with a dance class and the Lucy Brock children’s education program on campus.
“In class we talk a lot about the value of arts in education, and one of the things we talk about is the communal value and how it brings people together,” Ruggiero said. “It’s the idea of not just one area, but all of the arts.”
The main focus of the day’s activities was the creative problem solving and critical thinking skills that art facilitates in a child’s education in other classrooms.
“It’s a broader scope of what the arts are,” Ruggiero said. “It’s not just making pretty pictures. There’s a lot of problem solving and levels of thinking going on.”
By the end of the day, most of the attendees were students with no connection to the class, who come just to play music and paint.
Sophomore Hunter Hill helped with planning and promotion. She hopes to be an art professor some day and was delighted at the turnout.
“I felt so good because it’s like, ‘This is what I love to do’ and having people share in the experience of what I love to do and what I’m going to do for the rest of my life is so heartwarming,” Hill said.
The class plans to do the event annually now, perhaps with more structured and planned activities for local children to join in on, as part of a continuing effort to spread awareness throughout National Arts in Education Week.
“I hate seeing it’s getting dropped in schools because it’s deemed unimportant,” Hill said. “It’s so important. There are so many things that kids learn that you can’t be tested on, but it has helped me so much throughout my life, mentally and with social issues and stuff like that, and I think we should always teach it.”
Story: Lovey Cooper, Senior A&E Reporter