2009-02-26 / Front Page

Youths celebrate the arts in Rhode Island

By Eileen M. Daly

March is Youth Art Month, a celebration of the value of art and quality art education programs in school systems across America.

Special events are held throughout the United States every year, during the month of March to celebrate art and to increase understanding of the importance of art education.

Lawn School art teacher Stephanie Pamula participates in YAM by exhibiting her students' artwork in public spaces. "The Youth Art Month national theme is 'Start with Art. Learn for Life.' It expresses art's importance, celebrates the rich gifts of our diversity, and acknowledges the varied forms of artistic expression," Pamula said. "Youth Art Month is a celebration of youth art across the state. Every year, there are art exhibits throughout Rhode Island showcasing art from students in grades K to 12," she said, adding, "By exhibiting student art in public spaces it helps to promote art in our schools and in our communities."

Jamestown students' artwork is currently on display in the main foyer of South County Hospital, Pamula said. "Forty students have work on display at the hospital," she said. "The hospital has done a wonderful job of framing and displaying the children's work." That exhibit will be on display for six months, Pamula said. There will be another exhibit of Jamestown students' artwork held at the Jamestown Philomenian Library beginning March 2. That exhibit will be on display for the month of March, Pamula said. "There will be 105 pieces on display," she said. "I try not to duplicate student work so that everyone has a chance to have their work displayed." An opening reception sponsored by the Friends of the Philomenian Library will be held in honor of the artists on March 2, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Pamula emphasized the importance of art education in educating, "the whole person." "YAM provides a forum for acknowledging skills that are not possible in other subject areas. Art education develops self-esteem and self-expression as well as appreciation for the work of others. It also develops critical thinking skills that are important as children continue their education and as they enter the working world. Our fast changing environment will require that our future leaders - our children - be creative and imaginative in problem solving. Students involved in the arts learn these skills," Pamula said.

Several articles on the website also emphasize the importance of art in education. An article titled "The Arts are Serious" indicated that, "The arts are serious and rigorous academic subjects. They are an essential. The arts have far-reaching potential to help students achieve education goals." While another article titled "Ten Lessons the Arts Teach," listed various skills that art programs help to instill including using multiple perspectives to solve problems, complex, creative problem solving and the ability to make good judgments in qualitative relationships.

Pamula emphasized the support that art education and artists in general, receive from Jamestown residents. "Jamestown is such an artistic community," she said. "The community really appreciates artists and student artists." She also emphasized the importance of positive feedback for student artists. "Positive feedback is really valuable for student artists to believe that they really are artistic and that their art is valued," Pamula said. She also said that this kind of supportive feedback has a positive effect on students' self esteem.

For a list of exhibits throughout Rhode Island during the month of March or for information on how to become a sponsor of YAM in Rhode Island, visit the YAM website at www.yamri.org.

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