SAN LUIS OBISPO — When the AWAKEN project goes into effect this year throughout the San Luis Obispo County school system, every student will have his or her chance to exhibit artwork in a real art museum, thanks to a new partnership between the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art (SLOMA) and the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education called AWAKEN — three thematic exhibitions based on grade levels that will challenge students to think critically and broadly while exploring their artistic expression about how community, or nature, or discovery inspires and changes lives.
To commemorate the launch of AWAKEN, SLOMA is challenging school officials, local government leaders, teaching artists, and local families, and every interested student to participate in this initiative.
“SLOMA is looking forward to providing exhibition space for all the participating students’ artwork. AWAKEN is one more way to provide an artistic experience for a broad cross section of youth — many who may have never been to an art museum,” said Karen Kile, SLOMA executive director. “SLOMA strives to have art in every child’s life. Art is important! Art brings energy and creativity, a kind of learning that can only enhance every other kind of learning.”
AWAKEN was chosen as the project’s name because it harkens to the discovery of the creative process — as a basic human instinct to be nurtured and celebrated. Both SLOMA and the SLO County Office of Education welcomed this initiative.
“Dozens of research studies demonstrate a strong correlation between arts education and students’ intellectual growth,” said James Brescia, SLO County Superintendent of Schools. “The studies repeatedly show that students exposed to the arts tend to perform better in problem solving, critical thinking and interpersonal skills. By showcasing young artists’ work in a real art museum, this project will give our students the kind of recognition and achievement that some other students earn through athletics, and other academic competitions.”
There will be three exhibitions at SLOMA during the 2018-19 school year: fall, winter, and spring. High school students frame the first exhibit around a “community” theme. Students will use artistic expression to think critically and broadly about how community can inspire and change lives. A “nature” theme inspires the winter exhibition. Middle school students will be challenged to show how nature influences their lives through their artwork. The last exhibit is grounded on a “discovery” theme, seen through the eyes of elementary school students. Their young minds use art to share their favorite wonders of life in the spring exhibition.
“SLOMA is proud to be working with the County Office of Education on this project,” said David Coburn, President of the SLOMA Board of Directors. “This outreach is another opportunity for the Museum to recognize the talents of our younger members of society. I am looking forward to the first exhibition by our local high school students. The opening is Nov. 2 and will be up until Nov. 18, 2018.”