by L.A. Warren
Jackson State University partnered with Jackson Public School in June to build community pride among elementary and middle school students through an art display inside the Johnson Hall art gallery.
Students’ artwork was also a collaborative effort between Parents for Public Schools and “Ask For More Arts” (AFMA), which is a grant-funded program by the Ford Foundation to help facilitate learning.
Jimmy Mumford, interim chair of the Department of Arts in the College of Liberal Arts, said the projects and relationships with the partnering groups are extremely important to preserving art because “most times when budgets are cut art programs are generally the first to be eliminated.”
In addition, Mumford said, “Decision-makers must be aware that sometimes students may be unable to express themselves in written form and may need to rely on artistic communication.”
Jamecia McLaurin, 14, of Brinkley Middle School, said her team’s display took a lot of research, focus and time.
“The beauty is that we all worked together and cooperated,” said Jamecia, whose group project spotlights the life and legacy of martyred civil rights leader Medgar Evers. The artwork captures Evers’ work with the NAACP, his death and his convicted assassin, Byron De La Beckwith.
Aron Smith, a senior graphics design major at JSU, assisted students at Brown Elementary, which does not have an art program. Their project consisted of a 3D model of the school, located in an area known as Midtown. The visual map, which is called “One Community,” is designed to enhance students’ understanding of their surroundings. Students used cardboard, pipe cleaners, modeling clay and paint to design and build structures.
Of the students, Smith said, “I learned more about their curiosity to art. They were really engaged. They were so passionate that they barely put down their pens.”