Bringing Art to Detroit

Ten years ago, the non-profit organization, Art Road, began its journey to bringing Art education back to public schools that don’t have enough funding. Since then, founder and executive director Carol Hofgartner has brought art programs to three public schools in Detroit, serving as many as 1,500 elementary students.

“I was inspired to work on the idea of Art Road when I was asked by my friend to talk about architecture on career day at Wetherbee Elementary,” Hofgartner explains. “I was talking to a little boy about the art I made as a child when he replied with ‘Mrs. Hofgartner, we don’t have art class.’ I couldn’t believe that art wasn’t available to all students.”

When it comes to public schools in Detroit, many aren’t given the funding needed for art classes. Cutting art programs means that more children are being deprived of the opportunity to express themselves through a creative outlet.

“Art Road has gone from just an idea I had to actual implementation,” Hofgartner explains.

Art Road creates something for schools that not all schools have the privilege of having—free art education. Charles Wright Academy of Arts and Sciences, Charles L. Spain Elementary and Edison Elementary are the three Detroit public schools that Art Road offers its services to.

As a part of their senior project and their Public Relations major, Jessie LeTarte and Adriana Pedryc contribute to Art Road by reaching out to get more college volunteers for this organization.

Senior Jessie LeTarte articulates, “With Art Road, these kids are being able to be creative in a way they’re not offered anywhere else. In math, science and English, it’s not hands-on and that’s something Art class offers.”

LeTarte continues, “The kids always seem excited to take things home and show their parents, because these types of activities aren’t offered to them otherwise.”

Hofgartner explains that the idea of Art Road isn’t only to teach art, but to inspire potential future careers. “Not only are the students getting a lesson everyday, but we’re also bringing automotive designers, architects and fashion designers,” she says.

Always welcoming more Wayne State volunteers, Art Road brings many students together to contribute to the daily efforts of this art program. Whether students have an art major or not, volunteers can help out by passing out art supplies, assisting the teacher with the lesson or even sitting by the students to create art pieces with them.

Caitlin DeMara, Art Road volunteer and sophomore at Wayne State, describes her insight of this art program. “Being in the classroom is an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life,” she says. “It is not solely about crayons and glue, it is about inspiring confidence and self worth in the students.”

As a junior in the Bachelors of Social Work Program, DeMara chose to volunteer at Art Road, not only because of her experience with art, but also because it pulled her out of her comfort zone by working with kids.

Pedryc, contributing to Art Road as a part of her senior project along with LeTarte, explains that Art Road has been improving and expanding over the years and that it’s bringing a more positive light to Detroit Public Schools.

“The work [Art Road does] speaks for itself. It is really amazing what they do there for those kids. A lot of schools are missing out by not having a program like Art Road,” she says.

Pedryc concludes, “It puts a smile on your face that something so little a nonprofit is doing, can create such a wonderful atmosphere for the kids.”

In an attempt to bring art to the classrooms, Art Road has created opportunities for children to not only learn about art, but to also discover how far their creativity can take them.

Full article via: The South End

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