Last year, I had the amazing privilege of teaching through Hilltop Artists in Tacoma, Washington. Hilltop provides tuition-free art classes to youth in Pierce county while helping student develop skills far beyond art making. The program I was a part of, Arts Connect, serves young girls on probation and diversion, as well as girls in foster care.
Through Arts Connect, girls make art while "addressing other issues critical to success of each girl: teamwork and collaboration, positive social interactions, the ability to reflect and express themselves, the ability to trust in adults and other girls, leadership development, and communication. AC participants also engage in a service/philanthropy project each session, which extends their awareness beyond themselves into their community.".
I was lucky enough to teach two groups of girls the art of painting on glass. My students, along with the guidance of the program manager, Sasha Tepper-Stewart, learned so much about glass, enamels, patterns and teamwork! Together, we developed a collaborative, large-scale glass mural that featured each girl's interpretation of her hopes for the future. It is currently part of an exhibition titled Our Dreams at the Wright Park Arboretum, featuring artwork made through AC over the past year.
The opening was amazing and it was wonderful to see my past students, other teaching artists, and the public together to support the program. All of the artwork in the show looked incredible and was packed with meaning, attention, to detail and love! Teaching through Arts Connect was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life and I could not be more proud to have been a part of this fantastic, progressive program.
Our Dreams is on display until June 17!