Contact: Thomas Hottman
Over the past few months, Christie Riggins, founding director of the Favell Museum Community Art Program, asked her students to answer a specific question.
“What makes you happy?”
Using a piece of paper, paint, brushes and other tools, students from Mills Elementary and Ponderosa Middle schools created their answers.
Access to art
Riggins runs the 21st Century Community Learning Center after-school program for students in the city school district. The free program began three years ago when Riggins volunteered to teach art to low-income children, who didn’t have access to art elsewhere, she said. Since then, it has taken off.
Riggins and Pat McMillan, the curator at the Favell Museum, spend a period of nine-weeks at various elementary and middle schools, teaching art to students in kindergarten through eighth-grade.
The artwork created by Riggins’ students at Mills and Ponderosa will feature in an art exhibition at Sky Lakes Medical Center, entitled “What Makes Me Happy.”
“I think this is incredibly precious because it’s so spontaneous and innocent and so unselfconscious,” Riggins said. “We wanted a public place to put art and Sky Lakes immediately jumped on board.”
In October, the Favell Museum Community Art Program was awarded a $6,000 grant from Sky Lakes Medical Center to help provide materials and art teachers to enable around 600 students to create ceramics, paintings and more, Sky Lakes Public Information Officer Tom Hottman said.
The art exhibition is the first partnership of this nature with Sky Lakes, Hottman said, although the hospital regularly contributes to other art activities in the community.
“This is one way that Sky Lakes can help the community in ways that aren’t directly related to health or health care,” Hottman said. “Early childhood development through art may translate into better health or well-being.”
Around 48 pieces of artwork will hang in the hallway that connects Sky Lakes and Plum Ridge. Every eight weeks, the artwork will change to feature different artists from different schools who attend the after-school program.
On Tuesday, Riggins began a nine-week art session at Roosevelt Elementary School, where kindergarten and first-grade students made Christmas ornaments out of clay.
Riggins said the students will work with clay for a while, before changing to art, when she will ask the question, “What makes you happy?”
The students’ responses will be featured in the next installment of the exhibit at Sky Lakes in February.
“What Makes Me Happy” opens at 11 a.m. Saturday on the third floor of Sky Lakes Medical Center.