Roswell Independent School District’s Arts Connect Program partners with the Roswell Museum and Art Center
By Christina Stock
This year, Celebrate the Arts Day is changing. The program of the Roswell Independent School District’s Arts Connect at the Creative Learning Center partners with the Roswell Museum and Arts Center, sponsored in part by the RMAC Foundation. The first Family After Hours will take place at RMAC, 1011 N. Richardson Ave., on May 9 from 5 to 8 p.m.
The new free event is open for the public and focuses on encouraging parents to partner with their children in the arts, while building memorable, shared experiences. The museum’s galleries will be filled with free hands-on art activities, presented by RISD Arts Connect teachers as well as gallery talks, games and refreshments that celebrate the cultural richness of New Mexico.
“This is the first time that we are doing something like this,” Amanda Nicholson, curator of education at the RMAC, said. “We’re having an art-specific event for families to come and make art with their kids together, to make it more of an engaging experience. Parents are definitely encouraged to participate and get in there and create with their kids.
“We will be utilizing most of our galleries, so it will be spread out throughout the museum. We’re going to have a variety of activities, drawing, painting, weaving, constructing sculptures. We won’t have music at this event, it may be something we will incorporate in the future, right now it is primarily visual-arts based. It is inspired by the museum’s collections, because we obviously have a lot of New Mexico-based artists, not just within the Artist-in-Residence program, but also bigger names such as Georgia O’Keefe. We have an exhibition up right now called Made in New Mexico, which focuses specifically on artists from this state or who moved here to create in New Mexico,” Nicholson said.
Abie Smith is the Arts Connect Principal at the RISD Creative Learning Center. Asked how the 5,700 children in K thru sixth grade have been engaged at art class working toward the event, she said, “With our new standards that the state adopted, which are the National Core Standards, we have a component in there, which is about culture. And so we’ve really been focusing on our community and New Mexico culture. They (the students) have an understanding going in. Like our fifth graders this year, we focused on landscapes with Peter Hurd. We took a field trip, six schools in the fall, and we are getting to take our other six schools in spring to the Peter Hurd Museum — they get to walk through and then go out in the field out front and they paint their own landscape.
“They got to meet Michael Hurd (Peter Hurd and Henriette Wyeth’s son). An incredible experience. We always take in inspiration and prints, but we wanted them to capture their own creativity and thought in what they see,” Smith said.
“We are cultivating that creative spirit in all students because everyone has it,” Smith said. “We don’t create it for them, but we want to cultivate and build it. That’s our job in going in: helping them find their interest. Maybe they like sculpture more than they like doing tableaus; maybe they like playing the recorder more than they like painting, they find that. You can see it in their joy that they have in creating it, in their conversations that they have collaborating. The kindergarten students explain why they are using a certain color, the story and connection behind with the activities. That’s our joy. We get to see them grow.”
Asked how the partnership between RISD Arts Connect and RMAC came to be, Nicholson said, “It was a collaborative conversation between me and Abbie at a Gallery event. We just got to talking.”
“We had such a time finding a venue and what better place is there than the museum,” Smith said. “And the fact that we have so much support from the RMAC — it’s exciting because it helps us think deeper, because they are pushing us a little bit. But they are also a great team to work with, we get our i’s dotted and t’s crossed and the exciting part of our goal for the Arts Connect program is working with community and so, we’re checking that off, too.
“RMAC has been proving — being very helpful with the district providing opportunities for students to go there on field trips and other times as well,” Smith said. “We are trying to encourage that. Because we can’t get everything done in a school day, so we want those extra experiences for our kiddos.”
The event will not be only exciting for the children and their family, creating in an environment that represents artists from all around the world, it is also exciting for the organizers at RMAC.
“It is great for the museum because instead of having volunteers leading the activities, we have actual visual art teachers leading these activities and working with the kids. That’s really exciting for us,” Nicholson said.
Asked how many teachers will be at the event, Smith said, “We have all 13 who will be involved. I’ll have my visual art teachers that have planned the activities, and worked with Amanda to see what matches well, what fits with the art that they have displayed. Then, we have our six performing arts teachers who are partners in every grade level, and they will be supporting their visual art partner. My arts integration specialist will be walking around assisting along with me. We’re all there.”
“The event is free,” Nicholson said. “We are providing all the supplies and everything. Then, in terms of what is upcoming for the museum and art center, we have a summer art camp going on the whole month of July. And each week is a different grade level. There will be a wide variety of media and techniques by different teachers. They are going to get a lot of different perspectives on what it means to create and the different visual arts that are out there.
“A big part of a community’s own museum is you got to reach the community and provide opportunity for them. A big goal for us is always getting to the students and realizing how art affects their life. How it plays a part in their life. It’s great that we have such a participating community. We definitely have a community that likes to come out and participate and take advantage of these kinds of opportunities, which is great.”
The music department will have their event separately later on in May. “A music component will come in later, on the evening of the 21st,” Smith said. “We’ll do Music Night in the Park — actually out in front of the Chaves County Courthouse. It will be the third, fourth, fifth graders. We’ll have our recorder concert and then our third and fourth graders are doing some other performing arts involved with that, some puppeteering and some dancing.”
Smith, too, is appreciative of the support the children’s art program is getting. “They really support the arts,” she said. “We have gallery events at the hospital and the airport who allow us to display work (of the students). They continue asking us how they can collaborate. It is a supporting community.”
For more information, visit roswell-nm.gov/308/Roswell-Museum-Art-Center or .risd.k12.nm.us/administration/instruction/clc.cfm or call RMAC at 575-624-6744.