a reflection by Sadie Bills, CityArts AmeriCorps member at Delsesto Middle School, 2016-2017
Art is all about defying the norm. Artists work every day to resist the strong cultural current of financial security and social acceptance. They are relentlessly preoccupied with the struggle to embrace mistakes and the greater unknown. The rest of society tasks them with turning decay and turmoil into something worth looking at, even if just for a moment. Artists teach us lessons when all other forms of communication break down.
In these challenging times, artists and non-artists share the same responsibilities: calling bluff on things that don’t make sense, preserving equality, and keeping routes for communication open to all.
I can think of no other demographic that would benefit most from these strengths and skills than today’s youth.
“Art is about making mistakes,” we wrote on our Community Expectations page for the Delsesto Middle School after school art program. Our program is not about passing the time until dismissal, but about creating a safe social-emotional place where we can bring what we are confused by, worried, passionate, or happy about. We tell students this on the first day of class, and then we make art together.
The Community Expectations page says the following from students:
“Life always gives you a second chance,” “Don’t give up on your dreams,” “be kind,” “be a friend,” – and my personal favorite – “no shaking, humans or trees.”
Our students undoubtedly know what resilience looks like, and we are constantly thinking of how to help them enact it.