This school year, Near West Intergenerational School’s Developing and Refining stage (GLE 3-6) students worked with Artist-in-Residence Megan Young to develop projects for an Art Exhibition at Cleveland Institute of Art. Students created abstract compositions with scraps of fabric, self-portrait collages, collaborative sculptures of found objects, and wall-hanging clay structures.

The pop-up exhibition, Because it’s Fun, showcased students’ artwork in the Donna and Stewart Kohl Corridor at Cleveland Institute of Art from February 11-13. Families, students and other visitors throughout the community, including Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, attended the exhibition.

“It was so inspiring to see so many come together to make this happen for our students. Being able to offer this program introduced a new way of learning through art.”

Brooke King, Executive Director

Encouraging Lifelong Learning through Creativity

Megan Young, found-object artist and ceramicist, led and instructed the powerful learning experience. Working alongside Near West’s art teacher and fellow Cleveland Institute of Art alumnus Nathan Manthey, Ms. Meg applied a multidisciplinary and intergenerational approach to education, incorporating visual arts into each classroom. Students worked with their multi-age class and adult Learning Partners to develop projects in preparation for the exhibit.

“What I most enjoyed was getting to know my students and their beliefs about art and art-making, and seeing those beliefs evolve. Like anything else, it takes practice to get comfortable making art. I think that came with the media we used fabric, collage, found objects, clay it was new for most of them and a very tactile experience compared to drawing or even painting. It was fun to watch them approach that for the first time.”

Megan Young, Near West Artist-in-Residence

Providing New Opportunities for Students

Developing Stage (GLE 3-4) students work on their projects in Ms. Meg’s art class.

Through this transformational program, more than 100 Near West students had the opportunity not only to share their creativity with their school and the greater Cleveland community, but also to practice expressing their ideas through mixed media, weaving and ceramics.

“I’m new to clay, but I was inspired by my great grandmother, and by my teacher Ms. Meg. Both women taught me how to use clay properly, and helped me figure out how to make my artwork nice and very interesting… I wanna let the world know that their artwork doesn’t have to be great, but it has to be interesting,” shares one 4th grade student from Ms. Onda’s class.

While Ms. Meg’s residency is complete now that the exhibition is over, the lessons she shared will endure with our school community. The Artist-in-Residence program is a perfect example of our educational approach at the Intergenerational Schools: We explored the intersection of culture and learning, strengthened our community, cultivated lifelong curiosity, and celebrated the practices of individual self-expression and trying new things. We’re grateful to have welcomed Ms. Meg to Near West and look forward to future opportunities to bring innovative programs like this to our schools.

Thank you to the Ohio Arts Council!

The Integrating Visual Arts in Reading and Writing Instruction program is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. 

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Read more about the New Program to Integrate Visual Arts in Reading and Writing Instruction at Near West