Thank you to everyone who voted for our #GivingTuesday campaign!
We are thrilled to be donating 10% of our online sales to Art Sphere, Inc. during the month of December. To learn more about this amazing organization, we interviewed the Executive Director, Kristin Groenveld, to get an inside look at how ASI is helping to grow and change the art community of Philadelphia.
Art Sphere has been around for 20 years. What do you think your biggest accomplishment has been?
Over these past 20 years, we have provided free ten week art classes to thousands of youth reinforcing core curriculum such as literacy, health and environmental awareness.
Our programs have inspired youth to excel in school, pursue college and careers in art and explore their creative potential.
We have also engaged thousands of students at educational events and neighborhood mural / neighborhood cleanups teaching social responsibility and environmental awareness.
Though, the biggest accomplishments for me are in the small stories: the Preschool student mother who wrote on our survey how her son made a sculpture from their recycling after our class; the high school alumni who wrote they never felt more proud than being able to say that they painted the wolf school mascot murals in their school halls; the grandmother who said her grandson would be the first to go to college in her family because our programs inspired him to try a career other than what other family members have done previously; the brother and sister learning English and identifying every letter they could find in the classroom after making an Alphabet book; the partner site teacher who was ecstatic that a father would bring in sticks for all the children and wanted to teach the students to fish when he saw the youth made fish art projects.
What do you find most special about the Philadelphia Art Community?
ASI has a rich diverse network of partners that value making art accessible and solving problems through community engagement.
Art is a vehicle for change; Philadelphia has a wealth of creativity and resilience that fuels our students with the drive to want to make the world a better place. ASI provides a map to go places!
The Public Mural Collaborations are very inspiring - what goes into creating such a large display of community art?
We start by engaging many community members with brainstorming and paint site specific messages based on their combined ideas. Teamwork, planning and collaboration help people make relationships that last through our mural making process and leave a lasting legacy for others to enjoy.
What is your favorite part of your job as Executive Director of Art Sphere?
I enjoy meeting others in the arts, activist and volunteer communities who share their passions and never stop giving. They teach me more about the world we live in and give me exciting new outlets for making a positive difference.
It's also very rewarding to help others find a way to share their talents to make a big impact and foster unique connections. We learn so much about ourselves by sharing our experiences and learning about the experiences of others.
Being a part of a community that values compassion and care gives me hope for the future.
You get to see first hand how donations make a difference in the community, can you explain a little bit about what these donations fund?
We raise money for Art Boxes filled with free art materials for youth to make art with, both at school and at home, that would not otherwise be available to them. High school students have also told us that they use these art boxes with younger siblings and babysitting, teaching the art lessons they have learned with other generations. Parents have told us that art making together has brought their families closer. Students have brought their sketchbooks to show us years later as documents to their experiences, thoughts and feelings. Children are very proud to have new art materials that are their very own and they love telling us about what they created over their weekends, vacations and summers.
Our 10 week art classes give students profound art experiences with professional grade art materials teaching ceramics and glazing, architecture using perspective drawing and drafting tools, clay animation with iPads, literacy and bookmaking, mural painting and printmaking. Through their artwork, youth share their struggles and dreams with peers and mentors who support their growth.
What do you find most challenging about being an Art Teacher?
More and more, communities across our region are stretched for creative public resources. Declining education funding has forced schools to cut art programs, while shrinking budgets prevent libraries and recreation centers from offering their own visual-arts programs. ASI aims to fill the artistic void in these communities by fostering the visual arts and developing broader skills to help students thrive in all subjects.
Students come to us now with less skills than ever so there is never enough time to teach all the projects we want to share, answer all the questions about the world that kids ask, listen to all their ideas and give them all the encouragement they need to flourish. In a 60 minute class for 25 students, if 10 minutes is instruction, each student has less than 2 minutes of time with an instructor. For this reason, we recruit assistant art teachers to talk with youth and incorporate an extra half hour before and after class for set up and cleanup, and another hour for planning and prepping projects. Learn more about volunteering at http://artsphere.org/get-
What do you enjoy most about working with children?
For a child, every day is full of brand new opportunities for learning about themselves and the world. Our teachers know that when we work with students we are helping youth build important skills, motivation and self confidence to become life long learners. Together we make great memories and success stories which is very rewarding and keeps us adults aware of how wonderful life is. Children give me a fresh perspective on life - Make new! (We love that about your company name Printfresh as well!).
Young people are so excited to learn, try new art forms and make connections. They are our next generation of problem solvers and healers!
What’s next for Art Sphere?
We are celebrating our 20th anniversary and will be working to expand our impact through more free art resources, handouts, books and lesson plans made available via social media, our blog and our website. We are looking for more support and volunteers so we can share our programming to more partners and communities with goals to expand our programming in South Philadelphia and with immigrant youth struggling to learn English. Connect with us here - https://m.facebook.com/
We also offer a free art lesson plan e-book: “Creating Legacies through Art”
Creating Legacies though Art takes you on a journey to explore the commonplace and find new meaning in everyday objects. Through individual and group projects, with additional links and references to help you extend the journey, our art lessons provide opportunities to transmit core values, such as compassion, tolerance and respect.
Start filling up your shopping carts!