The young artists who take NYJL’s Tuesday morning art classes are explorers. They get lost in the details while carefully sketching a Ming-dynasty-inspired vase. They discover combinations of color and light by creating stained glass mosaics out of tissue paper. And they contemplate the wilderness of Chihuly’s twisted glass sculptures by recreating their own out of other materials. These students are exercising their critical thinking and experiencing the pride artists feel when creating an artwork with theirs own hands.
Research supporting art education’s positive impact on children’s academic success and social-emotional wellbeing is abundant. A 2019 Brookings Institute report found that, among elementary school students,“[…] increases in arts learning positively and significantly affect students’ school engagement, college aspirations, and their inclinations to draw upon works of art as a means for empathizing with others.” And according to studies by the National Endowment for the Arts, students from low-income communities demonstrated higher test scores in science and writing if they were highly engaged in the arts from kindergarten to eighth grade, compared to students who were less involved in arts during those formative years.
Affirming the importance of arts programming in education, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio committed $23 million in 2014 to upgrade arts facilities and equipment, strengthen partnerships with cultural institutions, expand specialized programming for English language learners and students with disabilities, and support staff development.
“Arts instruction must be continuous, rigorous, inclusive, and reflective of the diversity of the communities and students the DOE serves,” said Chancellor Richard A. Carranza in the NYC Department of Education’s Arts in Schools (2017-2018) report.
The NYJL is strongly committed to arts education too. In fact, we have six committees dedicated to engaging students in rich, cultural and artistic activities and experiences. One example of our arts education programming is Project Muse.
Every week, Project Muse volunteers provide interactive art education classes to third grade students at a Title 1 school in the Lower East Side. Volunteers cultivate an environment where students feel comfortable, supported, and inspired to learn and develop their creativity and artistic skills through explorations of diverse artistic styles, championed by artists such as Frida Kahlo and Monet.
Project Muse organizes several field trips to arts and cultural institutions each year, so students can engage with artworks in real life and create their own inspired projects. Recently, NYJL volunteers and students visited the Children’s Museum of Art to see E.V. Day’s Breaking the Glass Ceiling exhibit, encouraging guests to question invisible boundaries and aspire to greatness beyond society’s expectations and limits.
Project Muse artists have also visited the Botanical Gardens, where they documented natural works of art through photography. Afterwards, the students walked through the neighborhood to identify and admire street art.
To foster students’ aspirations, Project Muse hosts a career panel each year so students can learn more about art-related careers.
If you would like to celebrate Project Muse, please join us Thursday evening, December 5, at Golden Tree, where we will celebrate the important contributions of five community projects. A three-day shopping event and celebration, Golden Tree is one of NYJL’s signature events to raise funds for our mission–and continued exploration in the arts.