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A program teaching students importance of art

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Jay Jacoby
Courtesy Photo

Arts Partners is meant to inspire creativity in students. The program brings artists into classrooms to show kids the importance of art and the process for how it’s made.

For this month’s Art Works, Torin Andersen travels to Washington Elementary where students in Jay Jacoby’s art class are working to create a mural.

Jacoby: Juanta's a local mural artist. He's a product of the Wichita Public Schools, just like myself.

Juanta Wolfe is an artist that got his start early in life, as he explains to the class.

Wolfe: I did a book report in first grade and I drew the characters out of the book report and I was like, yo, this is spot on. This is my calling.

Wolfe then tells the art class what they will be working on together.

Wolfe: You guys are gonna help me out with our mural process, and the first part of the mural process is brainstorming. It's gonna be focused on the saying “Dream, Believe, Achieve.”

Wolfe and Jacoby encourage the students to think of images that represent the slogan. They start with the color blue as a visual manifestation of dreaming then move on to the word, “Believe.”

Wolfe: Some images that spark belief.

Jacoby: Believe in, what does it mean to believe in yourself?

Wolfe: Yes, sir.

Student: Um, like, have confidence.

Jacoby: OK.

The students come up with an image of muscles to represent strength and books for building knowledge.

Wolfe: The word achieve, what does that spark for you? Yes, sir?

Student: Like a goal?

Wolfe: Or what does the future look like for you? Yes?

Student: Uh, being happy and successful.

Wolfe then instructs the students to start sketching out their visual ideas.

Wolfe: I mean, essentially think you're sketching for a mural. You're gonna be presenting this to somebody asking for their permission to paint it on their property.

The students return at a later date to start painting after Wolfe has laid down a loose sketch using the students’ ideas.

Wolfe: As you guys can probably see, we have blocked in a lot of our colors and we're using the blues. Again, it's like a manifestation of our dreams and ambitions. So that's the main thing that I want to get filled in today, alright?

Wolfe then turns to give some one on one instruction about shading.

Wolfe: I mean, I know adults that get a little intimidated by it, but hopefully we'll learn something today that in the future you won't feel as intimidated by. Okay. Our light source is gonna be coming from the book she's reading, so everything on that side of it is gonna be a darker color, alright?

Wolfe will have the final brush stroke on the piece before hanging.

Wolfe: I'm gonna kind of do the mid to end part and all the way to the finish, and then they'll get to see the final product. With the way we're doing this, um, all the kids are gonna be able to see their contribution to it.

He has more than 20 years of experience shaping and documenting the arts in Wichita.