Why Art? Enrichment…by Joe Szafarowicz

Why Art?  Enrichment

The Enrichment Program in Toledo, Ohio is collaboration between the Juvenile Court and the Toledo Museum of Art. This unique partnership provides opportunities for youth under the care of the court by providing scholarships to art classes, assisting with enrollment in Saturday morning classes, arranging special interest classes for youth in court programs, scheduling ArtReach programs and by assisting with transportation costs.

On July 15, a young man from the Toledo Probation program participated in the first Enrichment Program activity, titled ArtReach. The lesson consisted of a visit to the galleries followed by an art experience in the classroom. Toledo Art Museum programs are designed to include a visit to the collection which is accompanied by hands on activity. This format brings a special focus to the museum’s pride and joy, the collection, and has the added benefit of introducing students to the great art in one of the finest museums in the world. Tours of the collection supplemented by a lesson focusing on the collection make for a powerful experience.

Upon returning from the gallery visit our young artist sat at the table eager to begin the lesson. His enthusiasm was obvious and his eagerness to get involved infected others in the room. He worked on his little project, never taking a break. During the class the teacher commented on how insightful his observations and questions were in the galleries during the tour. She was very impressed and made sure he and everyone in the room heard. She repeated her compliments throughout the lesson.

As the lesson neared completion and the young artist was putting the finishing touches on his piece the teacher made a special effort to ask him if he would like to return in Aug. for another class. Without hesitation he said yes and agreed to return.

His enthusiasm, dedication and deep involvement while doing the lesson and insightful comments during the gallery tour showed everyone in the room that he enjoyed the project and deserved more. More came in an offer of a scholarship to an upcoming class in the fall. When he was informed of the scholarship offer he was thrilled.

On Aug. 12 and 14 the Enrichment program, in coordination with the Toledo Museum of Art, will conduct a glassblowing workshop for youth in Foster Care. The young men and women will participate in a glass blowing activity at the museum’s Glass Pavilion during which they will make glass bowls and paper weights. The workshop will consist of a three hour activity each of the two days.

Our young artist, because he was so enthusiastic in the ArtReach activity, was offered a place in the Pavilion glassblowing workshop. When asked if he would like to join the group he accepted and once again couldn’t believe his good fortune.

It was a quite a day for one young man. What started out as an art class ended up as a morning full of accomplishments, positive reinforcement, praise, validation, involvement and exposure to people, places and activities that he will remember for a very long time, perhaps forever. The impact the experience had on him was evident; his demeanor changed, he smiled constantly, was happy, full of energy and very pleased with his artwork. Given his history it’s a safe bet that he hasn’t experienced a day like this recently.

The experience, and all it had to offer was a total surprise for this new artist. The activity, tour of the majestic galleries, success in the classroom and praise from the instructor all made for a special day.

His life was enriched on many levels.

J-Szafarowicz

Leave a Reply