Students Create Art for Local Women's Shelter

Students Create Art for Local Women's Shelter
Posted on 05/27/2021

Students at Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts are used to collaborating with local community members, so it was easy for sixth graders in Alison Rich’s visual arts class to become engaged in their most recent art project for ACCESS Shelter. The focus of the class this semester was community and students made art about and for their school and the greater Akron community. When ACCESS Shelter reached out to Rich, they said they had old artwork in frames that needed to be updated. Rich upcycled the frames and refreshed them with work that was specially created for the women’s shelter. 


Joy Raub, Director of Engagement at ACCESS, came to Miller South to meet the students and see the artwork. She said it would fit in perfectly at the shelter because the space is so colorful. The students told Raub about the process they went through to create the artwork. They began by looking at the website and looked through the success stories shared there. 


“First we learned about the shelter from their website and learned that some students in our class had family members who had stayed in shelters in the past.” Rich said. “Then we talked about finding your audience.” Students worked in groups to think of art that would be inspiring to guests at the shelter. ACCESS Shelter was started in 1983 to support single women and women with children. Students also had to find art from a famous artist that inspired their work. Some of the subject matter in the art was landscapes and families. 


“This was the first project we did in person when we came back to school after a whole year of remote learning so the kids were really excited to be together again.”  At first it was difficult to work with a few other students, everyone painting at the same time and learning to give and take, but eventually students slowed down to perfect their craftsmanship. 


Sixth grader Maliya Templeton said her favorite part was working with her partner, Rhiannon Smith. They tried to make the art inspirational for people in the shelter and created a silhouette of trees, inspired by student favorite Bob Ross. They practiced painting trees in their sketchbooks before working on the actual painting and received feedback along the way from their teacher. 


“It’s important for our students to understand that they can help those in need in our community in many ways.” Rich said. “One of those ways is by using our talents to create and share that with others. It doesn’t always have to be money or volunteering. Art can really change a space and add color and emotion that might help someone in a way that is unexpected and important.”


ACCESS Shelter is located at 230 West Market Street in Akron. Anyone wishing to support can donate a meal, contribute financially or sign up to volunteer at access-shelter.org.

Pictured left to right: Miller South sixth graders Jackson Ulery, Oliva Leiby, Sami Wooten, and Joy Raub, Director of Engagement at ACCESS Shelter.

Pictured left to right: Miller South sixth graders Jackson Ulery, Oliva Leiby, Sami Wooten, and Joy Raub, Director of Engagement at ACCESS Shelter.
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