The Arts have the power to SPARK! imagination, ignite innovation through creativity, and excite and transform learning. SPARK! Arts Ignite Learning envisions that every student receives a quality, comprehensive arts education that includes all art forms delivered in a variety of ways; and that the Arts are an essential part of every school day.
Equitable access to arts education opportunities positively impact our children’s lives. I have witnessed first-hand this transformative power of the arts. I was observing an arts lesson that introduced clay, in which students were expected to create a sculpture representing nature. As I looked across the room, a refugee student was excelling at the lesson, creating a beautiful, intricate birds nest. He was so engaged, engrossed even. And as he worked so naturally with clay, other students were drawn to him, began to recognize his talents and skills, admire and compliment him on his art work, and saw this student in a light they had not before. No longer was there a language barrier – because art has no one language. In that short period of time, I was able to see the arts break down barriers, increase communication even without language, and increase this students’ confidence. I saw the arts fuel critical thinking skills, express emotions, and create awareness of not only the world around, but of each other.
During this time, when students are facing social-emotional deficits and many face mental health crisis, the arts empower students to process and understand the world, express emotions, grieve, share and connect to each other and themselves, and heal. The arts hold the power, if only we are gifted the access and opportunities.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sienna Solberg is the Director of SPARK! Arts Ignite Learning. SPARK! Arts Ignite Learning is a collective-impact initiative of the Kennedy Center and is administered through Arts Missoula.