After decades of art education deleted from most public school curricula in America, an ambitious private sector program to restore the teaching of this important discipline grades K-12 is being launched by a subsidiary nonprofit foundation of Art Renewal Center (ARC).
Receiving its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in 2002, ARC was founded by Fred Ross (Chairman), Brian Yoder, and Sherry Ross. The organization offers an online museum with thousands of painting and sculpture images to enjoy, but it is the impact on education and spearheading the now-burgeoning humanistic art culture out from the dismal ashes left from 20th-century nihilism that are its greatest achievements.
Education programs were begun by discovering the few schools and ateliers teaching in the established Western-heritage tradition — representationalism with intelligible subject matter — and made them known to students, often giving tuition scholarships. These efforts dramatically increased enrollment and produced accomplished artists creating a need for more schools; there are now 75 ARC-approved schools and workshops worldwide training thousands of eager students.
ARC also sponsors a flourishing international Salon Competition.
This year is their 13th International ARC Salon with over 3,750 entries from 69 countries and a touring show of winners and finalists exhibited recently in New York City at the Salmagundi Club that will travel to Sotheby's, Los Angeles in December, and then on to the MEAM museum in Barcelona, Spain.
If that isn’t enough to support art education and exhibit artists of achievement, ARC has newly formed “The Da Vinci Initiative” foundation that instructs and aids public school teachers all over the country in how to bring art education into classrooms. One of my own signature speeches from the 1990s calls for precisely this kind of effort, so I am more than delighted to report on DVI’s programs — "THE FOURTH “R” IN EDUCATION: Reading, WRiting, ARithmetic, and ARt" can be read at the end of this article for an in-depth examination of art education that includes not only the visual arts but also creative writing and music.*
Headed up by President-Cofounder Mandy Hallenius and CEO-Cofounder Kara Lysandra Ross, The Da Vinci Initiative focuses on instructing teachers how to educate students in skill-based art techniques. They accomplish this goal in a variety of ways:
1 — Continuously developing free lesson plans to train teachers unfamiliar with certain technical art skills and provide a direct atelier learning experience for students.
2 — Creating online classes that teach atelier skills used as classroom teaching aides.
3 — Sending ambassadors knowledgeable in atelier training to conferences across the country, where they share successful methods with teachers and expose them to lesson plans that will challenge students in new ways.
4 — Hosting in-person-district-wise workshops throughout the country to provide meaningful professional development experiences for K-12 art teachers.
5 — Producing online courses that teach atelier skills. These courses are eligible for clock hours and undergraduate and graduate level college credit through partnership with Heritage Institute at Antioch University in Seattle, Washington.
6 — Providing scholarship funds for teachers to attend courses that will teach them the advanced technical art skills they may not have had an opportunity to learn during previous teacher training.
DVI believes that the most creative children are those who have many skills from which to choose and utilize in their own unique artwork so every student is able to produce art exactly as they envision it in their heads without compromise; this requires technical competence.
Benefits of Skill-Based Learning Include:
Continuity in Education: Skill-Based Learning requires a targeted approach so teachers can assess what technical skills students are learning. Clear assignments, specific tasks, and objective results allow teachers to measure how and what students are actually learning.
Historical Awareness: Skill-based methods have been used to teach art since before ancient Rome and continued to evolve throughout the 19th century. A foundation in classical training techniques engage students in successful training methods that have been spread from generation to generation.
Visual Intelligence: Skill-based training forces the human brain to advance visual intelligence. By teaching students how to break objects down and reconstruct them in a different dimension, they gain advancement in their visual perception abilities.
Hand-Eye Coordination: Skill-Based learning builds hand-eye coordination by engrossing children in the process of transferring specific lines and shapes to recognizable entities by drawing objects. Fine motor skills easily applicable to everyday life are achieved as hands translate information from eyes.
Makes Art Exciting: Like all subjects, guidance of an enthusiastic teacher yields impressive results. When the belief that they can learn art emerges, students become more actively engaged, making classes exciting for everyone.
An Additional Skill Set to Use in Self-Expression: Rather than relying on emotion or intuitive ability, students incorporate their skill-based training with their emotions as much or as little as they choose in order to attain desired results.
Discipline: As with music, math, science, or any complex subject, discipline to art through skill-based training educates students on the rewards of focus and concentration in order to attain skills acquired though dedication and practice.
Art Appreciation: Although most students will not become professional artists, hands-on experience in visual problem solving will inspire appreciation of art created by others throughout life.
Thus far, DVI is being incorporated into all of New Jersey’s public schools and is slated for all of New York City’s public schools in the near future. As efforts expand, America’s children will benefit exponentially and achieve a refined adulthood by learning and doing art.
Why not invite the gifts of this innovative organization to your own community . . . to the benefit of your own children?
* "THE FOURTH 'R' IN EDUCATION: Reading, WRiting, ARithmetic, and ARt" can be read here: https://www.artrenewal.org/Article/Title/The-Fourth-R-in-Education
Alexandra York is an author and founding president of the American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) a New-York-City-based nonprofit educational arts and culture foundation (www.art-21.org). She has written for many publications, including "Reader’s Digest" and The New York Times. Her latest book is "Adamas." For more on Alexandra York, Go Here Now.
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