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Artist Residency at South Junior High

Sarah Drake, a resident artist, brought her knowledge and love of art to students at South Junior High School. 

"In 2017, I won an emerging artist with disability award from VSA Minnesota, (the state organization on arts and disability)" explains Drake. "In the summer of 2018, there was a reception and exhibition for our work and I learned that they fund artist residencies. I was like, 'Wait a minute! I love doing residencies!'"

Drake, who has done several residencies at South with art classes, wanted to expand the opportunity to include artistry for special education students before school. There was so much interest, they filled two classes.

Students enter the classroom before school starts, where Drake has the supplies laid out for them, and they continue working on their paintings.

Drake tasked the students with creating a message to share with other students and staff at South that would be inspirational or motivational. 

"I painted a kind of like beachy area with some water and small island and jellyfish, water and sea creatures to give it more realistic touches," says Karina Trejo, a sixth-grader."It would be better if someone was feeling depressed, they could look at it and feel calm."

Zack Wyman painted an image with a comic/graphic look. "I made this because a lot of kids are so hostile and they don't need to be because there is no reason to always be angry. ... So, no matter if you're meeting a new person and you don't like them or appreciate them, you still give them a smile because you don't know what may happen." 

The students get to choose the location where their painting will be hung in the school. Wyman has chosen the cafeteria. He feels it will have the most impact there.

"They are going to be beautifying the building with their artwork and they are very proud," smiles Drake. "It's just a new experience."

Surprisingly, between the two classes, there was only one theme that was the same- "Be Yourself." The messages ranged from respect, cooperation, kindness, calmness and smile. 

This residency provided an outlet these kids could use to express their creativeness with an important message for all.