By Reyna Hurand
This article was previously published on www.flintside.com. Flintside is an online news magazine about the Flint region.
It was raining earlier—but now the sun is shining again at Art in the Park at Lake Callis, and people are admiring paintings under a tent near the beach, kids are laughing while playing on the splash pad, and others are making art of their very own.
Two little girls come over to show off their projects for Anna Schuller, one of the hosts of the event. They have Mason jars filled with colorful sand. Schuller has them stand together for a photo. They both proudly hold up their masterpieces and even after the photo, the large grins remain on their faces.
Schuller sits back down with a smile of her own. “That right there proves how much fun kids have with art,” she says. “It just brightens them up.”
She is the founder and executive director of Young Artistic Minds, a nonprofit organization designed to help put arts education back into schools throughout Genesee County.
Art in the Park is one of the events helping to raise money for the program, which launches this fall at Brownell STEM Academy in Flint. There is a silent auction featuring the work of local Davison-area artists and and others from the University of Michigan-Flint, where Schuller is a student.
Young Artistic Minds was born out of Schuller’s dedication to the arts. Currently enrolled in the master’s of arts administration program at UM-Flint, she had the choice between doing a traditional thesis—or starting her own project.
Schuller chose the latter.
Young Artistic Minds provides teaching artists and all the supplies needed for students for the entire school year.“My goal and passion was to create this organization where I can help—even if it’s only a handful of schools,” says Schuller, noting that Young Artistic Minds provides teaching artists and all the supplies needed for students for the entire school year.
Young Artistic Minds will introduce children to a variety of art forms, including photography and technology-based visual arts. The goal is for artists to teach students different concepts related to the visual arts, while also providing the opportunity for the students to create their own artwork.
While the program is focused on school-based events, it also hopes to coordinate more community events for the young artists to showcase their work.
Schuller said she contacted several schools in the Genesee County area—but that the Flint Community School building was easy to work with and eager to welcome her volunteer effort. Brownell currently offers offers gym and music classes.
“The principal has wanted to bring visual arts to the school. She wants to entwine it with the academic classes,” said Schuller. “And that’s what I want to do with my program—help schools make that transition and help figure it out—do lesson plans, resources, and training.”
The key to the program is teamwork. Artists will work with teachers in the classroom. Together, they will best be able to incorporate the arts into their lessons.
Schuller says the project also is designed to help local artists, who will be able to teach classes, learn, grow, and add new expertise to their resumes.
“If I can just be a small part of helping a few kids or a few schools, whatever it ends up being, then I feel that I have done something right,” Schuller says. “This is my way of giving back to my community.”
For more information on Young Artistic Minds, visit www.youngartisticminds.com.