Artist Kay Healy recently partnered with Ms. Rafferty’s 3rd grade classroom at Andrew Jackson School to make artwork inspired by concepts in geography. Ms. Rafferty reported that the residency brought out the creativity in her students, especially for those who struggled in the classroom, and found many students were able to find self-confidence their through art-making.
After studying the 50 states, students created a fictional state of their own, inspired by posters created by artists during the Works Progress Administration. They designed their own postcards promoting their states, and learned how to address mail to ensure proper delivery. Together, they walked to the nearest mailbox to mail their postcards home to their families.
Ms. Rafferty shared that prior to this project, many students could not conceptualize what the numbers on their house meant, and thought that they would need to hand deliver their postcard. Some students were so excited to receive their postcard in the mail, they brought them back into the classroom to show everyone it had arrived.
“One student was very reluctant to begin drawing at the beginning of the classes, and now has been much more comfortable taking risks and working on the projects,” said Healy. “Another student thought she was incapable of drawing during several of the assignments, but after seeing my attempts to draw the same thing has decided her drawings are far superior to my meager renderings (and they absolutely are).”
For 21 years, Fleisher has partnered with public schools and community programs in South Philadelphia to bring hands-on art-making directly to students. Through a co-teaching model, Fleisher’s teaching artist works closely with a classroom teacher to design a ten-week curriculum of creative projects that enhance students’ learning in core subjects, like math, science, social studies, and language arts. Each year, 345 students are provided with 30 hours of free arts instruction in one of 15 residencies, and given a sketchbook and art-making supplies to keep. At the end of the school year, their work is displayed in Fleisher’s galleries as part of a Young Artists Exhibition, visited by more than 3,500 community members.