ArtReach GW collaborative projects act as a vehicle for strengthening cross-cultural understanding, enhancing communication, activating citizenship, heightening a sense of self-worth, and fostering greater understanding among people and their communities.
ArtReach, in partnership with the 11th Street Bridge Project and University of the District of Columbia’s College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences, designed creative garden space projects with three Ward 8 resident and faith-based communities. Working with students and faculty from the Secondary Education program at GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development (GSEHD) and Corcoran School of Art, ArtReach provided a series of themed workshops exploring the neighborhood’s history, environmental sustainability and food justice.
During the workshops, GW students conducted interviews collecting and recording stories focused on the community’s past and current relationships to gardens and garden produce. The interview collection informed the design of the community-driven artworks at each of the urban garden sites.
- At Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative’s Wayne Place garden, ArtReach created eight-foot tall portraits of transitional housing residents depicting them with their vegetable and fruit associations. Wayne’s Place provides transitional housing for teens aging out of foster care. We conducted interviews and conversations with the residents about gardens and about fruits and vegetables in preparation for the creation of the portraits.
- At Bethel Christian Fellowship, ArtReach staff and GW students hosted a series of environmental education workshops for the pre-school students and worked with the congregation to create glow-in- the-dark educational mosaic murals for the garden.
- At Union Temple Baptist Church, the community joined together to design and paint a large-scale garden-inspired Adinkdra symbol and Kente patterned mural on two sides of a storage container.
Community Portrait Project
In 2016, ArtReach launched its first community portrait project, where ArtReach after-school students and Corcoran School of Art students created portraits depicting community members who are working to affect change through visual art mediums and materials that provided a glimpse into the community members work, inspirations, and personalities. The portraits were then displayed at the ArtReach gallery at the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC), where the young artists were able to meet their subjects and talk about the work. Through these projects, ArtReach students were both introduced to the art of portraiture and the various forms in can take and to role models living in their own community who are trying to make a difference.
The Outdoor Living Classrooom at THEARC
With our collaboration with the Washington School for Girls, GW Biology Department, THEARC, and DC Department of Energy and Environment, ArtReach augmented the construction of the Living Classroom space outside THEARC. While learning about stormwater and experimenting with the mosaic process, The Washington School for Girls worked with ArtReach to research native species affected by urbanization and stormwater issues in the District. The students worked alongside ArtReach to curate and create mosaic specimens that are on permanent display in the outdoor amphitheater space known as the Living Classroom at THEARC. The environmental mosaics help beautify the space, add educational interest and improve visitors’ understanding of the health and wellbeing in upstream and downstream communities and wildlife habitats.
Contact Aselin Flowers at [email protected] or 202-819-5490