By Claire Salinas
The LSU Museum of Art is partnering with the Gardere Initiative to put on an outdoor arts project that celebrates Black History Month.
The event will have, “a buffet of art activities,” according to LSU MOA’s Coordinator of School & Community Programs, Lucy Perera.
“Neighborhood Arts is a very vibrant community arts program,” Perera said. “The projects are all based on famous artists and we really strive towards creative expression and process based learning.”
Outside under pop up tents and on rugs in the parking lot of the Gardere Initiative on Ned Avenue, neighborhood kids will have the freedom to walk up and join in with painting, chalk drawings, quilting, mask making, and building a mural.
Children will be able to learn about African American history through interacting with a table of touchable art from Africa, viewing colored photos of famous artist’s work and hearing a bit about their lives and the history of African American art.
“We wanted it [the partnership] because it was a neighborhood art project that focused on the kids,” Gardere Intiative program manager Reginald Brown explained. “Our goal in opening here in the neighborhood is to bring services to the children. It provides avenues for our kids and our community to be exposed to art which they wouldn’t normally be exposed to.”
Perera explained that the program serves to expose the kids to positive artistic role models who look like them.
“The history of art has historically been taught from a European perspective that focuses on Anglo artists. Museum’s as well have fallen into this historical trap, so today in the 21st century we must consciously work to change this status quo and recognize that artists come in all different skin colors,” Perera said.qa
The art, Perera said, offers the kids a way to explore issues, ideas and themselves. By designing projects that require no previous art skill, kids feel less intimidated and more excited about getting creative. Perera hopes to help these children feel empowered by providing positive feedback in a “100% non-judgment zone.”
The art projects even sometimes serve as an avenue for the kids to work through their emotions.
“In regards to big issues, often times kids will share things that are going on in their lives, so just being there to listen while they talk has a huge positive impact,” Perera said. For her, the main goal of the program is that children have fun in a positive, healthy way that strengthens peer relationships, fosters self-esteem, and builds their community.
The Gardere Center recently received a grant from Kaboom to build a playground for the center, so the event will also serve as a community design day, where community members will be able to give their input about what is placed in the new playground.
The event will take place on Feb. 21 from 10 a.m. tp 12 p.m. and is free and open to the public. For more information about the event, contact Reginald Brown at The Gardere Initiative at (225) 769-0305 or Lucy Perera at the LSU Museum of Art at (225) 389-7207.