Students living in urban environments grow up with a host of unique educational experiences. These populous and diverse environments are a wonderful foundation for individuality, creativity and expression. This is why we see the arts flourishing among students in these urban communities. Unique mediums such as graffiti, murals, street art, and others thrive in this populous and diverse environment. More traditional mediums such as painting and photography capture grand images of landmark buildings and large community events. In cities we see the blending of cultures, traditions, and experiences that inspires students to generate unique artwork reflective of what they know simply as “home.”
Student artwork by Natalie Labrique
This past year’s PTA Reflections® theme The Magic of a Moment was a perfect vehicle of expression for the urban child. Through this theme, PTAs nationwide encouraged their students to stop and look for the magic in the world around them, whatever environment they were living in. Winners from urban communities submitted artwork depicting city skylines, beautiful architecture, twinkling lights, and crowds of people. Their artwork held up a mirror to their cities, reflecting the beauty of individuality and community simultaneously. These moments, for the urban child, are just as magical as a sunrise or a snowfall. These are the moments that make up the magic in their lives.
Here at National PTA, we had a chance to catch up with Isabella Olson, a 5th grade Reflections finalist who lives in a major U.S. city.
What city/urban environment inspired your artwork?
St. Paul, Minnesota
The Reflections theme for the year that you won an Award of Merit was “The Magic of the Moment.” What do you think is magical about an urban environment?
The Cathedral was lit up for the Red Bull competition and it was spectacular.
Student artwork by Hannah Fowland
What challenges did you face artistically working in an urban environment?
There was one sign blocking the way. I worked with my mom to delete it in Photoshop.
What opportunities did working in an urban environment present?
I was with my family attending the Winter Festival in St. Paul. That was great to take photos.
How has the Reflections program encouraged you to explore your artistic skills?
My mom lets me use her Canon Rebel camera to take photos.
What advice do you have for other students who participate in the Reflections program?
If you see something interesting, take a photo and good luck!
Learn more about urban arts education by visiting our National PTA Partner in the Arts resources on Transforming Urban School Systems Through the Arts by Arts Education Partnership. Learn more about National PTA’s Reflections Program at www.PTA.org/Reflections
Tessa Raden is the National PTA Arts in Education Fellow.