The art exhibit “Total Tolerance,” featuring 2018 YoungArts winners in design, photography, visual arts and writing, recently opened at the U.S. Department of Education (ED). The first YoungArts exhibit at ED, it features a collection of work from 21 student artists and celebrates religious, cultural, gender and racial diversity. The works reflect the artists’ personal views on inequality and social justice and, in some cases, are directly rooted in their lived experiences.
YoungArts has been the sole nominating organization for the U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts since 1979. That year, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. Evan Plummer, senior director of education for the National YoungArts Foundation, remarked, “For 37 years, YoungArts has identified and nurtured the most promising artists in the United States across 10 arts disciplines. The winners come from all 50 states and with a passion for their artistic practice.” Two of the artists featured in the exhibit, Ameya Okamoto of Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon, and Aidan Forester of South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, were selected as 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholars.
Students from the Rose Tree Media School District celebrate their success at the U.S. Department of Education.
About 250 student artists, teachers, parents, and school administrators from the Rose Tree Media School District in Pennsylvania, along with U.S. Department of Education (ED) staff, recently celebrated the students’ “Interpretations of Portraiture” exhibit at ED headquarters in Washington, D.C. It featured 85 pieces of artwork from all six of the district’s K–12 schools, each of them a unique portrait.
The exhibit and opening took five years of collaborative development led by Art Coordinator Kathleen Devine, its previous coordinator Meg Barney, and others in the district. This true community effort had extraordinary results.
Since 1969, the program has annually recognized elementary through high school students from around the country for artistic ingenuity as expressed in film, dance, literature, music composition, photography, and visual arts. Each year competitors are asked to bring a different theme to life in a way that is personal and meaningful. This is the 11th year ED has partnered with the National PTA to host a ceremony and art exhibit to honor award-winners.
“People who read and see and witness your work performed will create meaning from it, understand the human story, and understand the context in which you created it,” Jacquelyn Zimmermann, director of the Student Art Exhibit Program at ED, noted at the gathering. It drew students from about 25 states, from Alaska to Florida, as well as their families and teachers, arts educators and advocates, and ED staff.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke about the importance of the arts in education by noting the national focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and articulating the importance of another view, which includes the arts. “I happen to think that art is pretty important too,” she said. “So I like those who really embrace STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) education.” Following DeVos, Jim Accomando, the new president of the National PTA, expressed similar sentiments: “National PTA has long recognized the arts as an essential part of a great education.” As reflected by the top leaders of both organizations, access to and participation in the arts are at the core of an excellent education.