Tag Archives: children’s art

Heroes of Hope

Folks who hit First Friday in Phoenix tonight can enjoy a “Heroes of Hope” exhibit being held in honor of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (May 9). “Heroes of Hope” exhibits in Arizona represent a collaboration between the Arizona Art Therapy Association, Art Awakenings and Marana Health — plus participating families and youth. The Phoenix exhibit will be open during May at the Art Awakenings gallery located at 1014 N. 2nd St. Gallery hours are 6-9pm during this month’s First Friday.

Participating youth created works of art “representing heroes in their lives and how they have been helped in times of stress.” May’s First Friday event at the Art Awakenings gallery includes “a multimedia presentation with art imagery and facts about children’s mental health.”

A “Heroes of Hope” art fair taking place May 11 at the Marana Health Center ” will be formatted much like a science fair” and feature art created by K-12 students. Children who attend will be invited to create hand and footprints with paint for a “Wall of Heroes” being sent to service men and women deployed from Davis-Monathan Air Force Base. I’m told the event also features “interactive stations and information.”

Click here to learn more about National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day — a program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. I’m one taxpayer who’s perfectly happy to support programs that help families living with depression and other devastating mental health disorders.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to explore “Facts for Families” from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Click here to explore explore a piece from The Guardian featuring artwork created by participants in London’s CoolTan Arts programs.

Coming up: Silver linings, Dance meets documentary


From Vietnam to the Valley

Speak Peace,” a touring exhibit currently being presented by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, was created in partnership with Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center and School of Art Galleries with Soldier’s Heart, War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City and the Young Writers Program at Arizona State University.

Though the “Speak Peace” exhibit opened only recently in the young@art Gallery housed inside the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, folks from ASU’s Young Writers Program say they’re proud to have been involved for some time.

Sean Nevin, director of the ASU Young Writers Program, recalls meeting the director of a Kent State writing program at a conference about two years ago when both sat on a panel about teaching writing to kids. Nevin returned to Tempe and got to work writing a curriculum focused on teaching students in grades 9-12 how to write in response to experiencing art.

Several MFA in writing students and alumni worked with Nevin on taking the curriculum to Valley high schools as part of something called “Poetry Central.” Nevin is thrilled that “Speak Peace” includes “poetry written by Valley teenagers who participated in Young Writers Program workshops.”

He notes that participating students came from Carson Jr., Alhambra, Bostrom, Camelback, Carl Hayden, Central, Cesar Chavez, Maryvale, Metro Tech, North, South Mountain, and Combs high schools.

Jess Burnquist, ASU MFA graduate and YWP teaching assistant, leading a Speak Peace session with TUHSD students during Poetry Central 2010 (Photo courtesy of ASU YWP)

“Speak Peace” continues to use the curriculum on their website, and you can click here to explore it for yourself.

Nevin notes that those who visit the “Speak Peace” exhibit presented by SMoCA can enjoy several of the written pieces created as part of the ASU/Valley schools collaboration. 

A work created by Valley students working with the YWP is featured below:  

Who Knows

Who knows if peace will come or not?

People are afraid of touching peace,

Hands folding so if won’t fly away.

All that we know is all that we give.


We work together to reach the swan.

Peace tastes like the victuals of Eden.

Peace is the color of fire

And the burning motion of time.

With fingertips like irons,

Peace brands the unborn.

 –Collaborative poem by students from the Phoenix Union High School District (written at a YWP “Poetry Central” workshop)

Renee Simms, ASU MFA graduate and YWP teaching artist, leading a writing exercise with students from the Tolleson Union High School District during Poetry Central 2010 (Photo courtesy of ASU YWP)

“Art works to unite kids across the country and the world,” shares Nevin, who describes the response of youth to art as “a pure one.” Art, says Nevin, allows youth to “share a common language.”

Nevin recalls that the ASU/”Speak Peace” collaboration started near the 40th anniversary of the Kent State shootings, and that many of the students who wrote in response to the artwork created by Vietnamese youth had a parent or sibling deployed in a current conflict.

“It’s sad,” reflects Nevin, “that so little has changed.”

— Lynn

Note: Poet Bruce Weigl, who was awarded a Bronze Star for his service during the Vietnam War, will read his work and sign books at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art at 7:45pm on Thurs, Oct. 13. SMoCA will present a guided tour of the “Speak Peace” exhibit at 7pm.

Coming up: A tale of family and forgiveness, Dance meets the diary of Anne Frank

Voices from Vietnam

I headed out Monday morning with my son Christopher to explore a recently opened exhibit presented by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Christopher has a great eye for detail and always spots elements in artwork I might overlook.

SMoCA’s young@art Gallery is actually housed inside the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, one of my favorite haunts for mother/daughter dance outings and other fare from film screenings and opera broadcasts to performances by Broadway greats.

The current exhibit, titled “Speak Peace” is simpler, yet more powerful, than most. It consists of a level line of children’s paintings that wraps around the gallery’s walls.

Works from the Speak Peace exhibit in Scottsdale

Each work was created during the past ten years by a child or teen in Vietnam as part of an international collaboration, and each is exhibited along with an original poem written by an American child, veteran or established poet.

As we explored the exhibit, we noted that several images appear over and over again in various works — flowers, the sun, animals and doves. Also fire, desolation and bombs falling from the sky.

One particularly moving image features children from Iraq and America looking at a globe. Across one continent there’s a bandage. Paintings address the themes of peace and war, and you can explore them in the young@art Gallery through Nov. 9.

Heal the World for Peace by Phan Nguyen Bao Tran, age 14

While there, we stopped to chat with another woman enjoying the exhibit. Turns out she’s an artist and author named Ellen Palestrant who hails from South Africa but has lived in Scottsdale for 24 years.

Palestrant’s works are currently exhibited at Gallery Andrea on E. Main St. in Old Town Scottsdale. The gallery is owned by Andrea de Kerpely-Zak, a Hungarian-born artist whose impressionist-style flowers are so renowned that Pope John Paul II commissioned two works.

When I asked Palestrant why she’d decided to view this particular exhibit, she mentioned spending time in Vietnam — and shared her delight that Vietnamese art is reflecting a growing feeling of freedom. It’s more colorful now than in the past, she says, and combines influences from both East and West.

Peaceful Country by Huynh Vu Thuy Duong, age 15

I also asked her thoughts about the state of arts and culture in Arizona. Palestrant praised what she calls “lots of experimentation and seredipity.” Perhaps because of all the bright sunshine, she says, “there’s a certain freedom here that you don’t get elsewhere.”

Palestrant’s grandaughter, just 4 years old, was also enjoying the exhibit — stopping at each work to really take it in. Seems she’s already drawing up a storm, to Palestrant’s delight.

“Art is your companion for life,” reflects Palestrant. She notes art’s power for steering youth through their sometimes turbulent teens, and says that exposing young children to art by other children sends a powerful message: You can do it too.

Together Protect Peace by Ta Thank Khue, age 15

“Children need to create and do things,” says Palestrant, “instead of always buying things.”

— Lynn

Note: To explore the work of Scottsdale artists, attend a Scottsdale Artwalk. They’re held each Thursday from 7-9pm. Click here for details.

Coming up: Fun with photos — from New York Comic Con

Pondering peace

I was struck, while listening to President Obama deliver a speech today to a gathering of United Nations members in New York City, by several of his remarks about furthering peace and justice in the world.

Our conscience calls on us to act. Our common humanity is at stake. Peace is hard, but we know that it is possible. Together let us make peace…but a peace that will last.

It reminded me of quotes I’d pondered earlier this year at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa, which are pictured throughout this post.

Parents looking for ways to promote peace, which always starts at home, are getting a little help from Phoenix Theatre’s Cookie Company — which presents a work titled “Peacemaker” Feb 11-26, 2012 at Greasepaint Youtheatre in Scottsdale.

Phoenix Theater offers this description of the work…

The Blues and the Reds have lived on either side of the Wall for decades. Interaction is forbidden, and both communities live in an atmosphere of fear, suspicion, and mistrust. But when circumstances allow Simp, a Red, to meet Bluey, they learn that their similarities far outweigh the differences.

“Peacemaker” — which is full of clowning, juggling and physical storytelling — is meant to promote acceptance, empathy and friendship.

The United Nations reports that “an International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by resolution 36/67 of the United Nations General Assembly to coincide with its opening session, which was held annually on the third Tuesday of September.”

“The first Peace Day,” they add, “was observed in September 1982. In 2001, the General Assembly by unanimous vote adopted resolution 55/282, which established 21 September as an annual day of non-violence and cease-fire. The UN invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.”

An art exhibit featuring photos of NYC children who hail from every country on the planet opened today at Park51 in Lower Manhattan. The Kickstarter-funded exhibit features the work of David Goldfield, which I hope to explore while visiting Lizabeth next month for Pace University’s homecoming weekend.

We pay attention to peace for a lot of reasons at our house, including the fact that our daughter Jennifer hopes to work at the United Nations one day. She’s an ASU student studying cultural anthropology whose current classes focus on human disease, religions of the world, and Holocaust history and the media.

For ideas on promoting peace in homes, schools, communities and beyond, visit the “International Day of Peace” website at www.internationaldayofpeace.org.

— Lynn

Note: You’ll find Arizona Museum for Youth at www.arizonamuseumforyouth.com, Phoenix Theatre’s Cookie Company at www.cookiecompany.org, Park51 at www.park51.org and the United Nations at www.un.org.

Coming up: Making peace with a purple plastic purse

Talking to kids about 9/11

Artwork from an Arizona Capitol exhibit by Young Arts of Arizona

Dispensing parenting pearls is easier than following them — hence my proficiency now in urging others to talk sensibly and sensitively with their children about 9/11 a decade after my own children experienced far too much television footage filled with fire, tears and trauma.

They’re old enough now that I can indulge my instinct to spend much of the weekend following live coverage of 9/11 memorial events — in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania — on television, radio and internet. And I can reflect on ways I might have done a better job talking with them about 9/11 in its immediate aftermath.

Children born in 2001 are now elementary school students old enough to feel genuine curiosity about events of that day, but young enough to need adult support as they make their way through atttempting to grasp and come to terms with them.

The national 9/11 Memorial in New York City, which provides information on the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath at www.911memorial.org, offers several
“broad guidelines” helpful to parents of children from preschoolers to teens:

  • Listen. Actively listen to their thoughts, attend to their body language, validate their emotions, and encourage respectful conversation and discussions.
  • Don’t avoid difficult conversations. Let the child’s interests and thoughts guide the conversation. Use age-appropriate language and be aware of your tone, reassuring children about their own safety and allowing them to express concerns about 9/11 and its aftermath in more depth.
  • Answer questions about the attacks with facts. Be prepared for your child to ask questions about death when dicussing 9/11, and to answer these questions in a way that is honest and developmentally-appropriate.
  • Acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers. If you can’t answer your child’s question, be honest. Use the opportunity to model yourself as a learner, and to explore the questions together.
  • Be specific. The story of 9/11 is actually thousands of individual stories. Highlight those specific stories to help humanize the events, and avoid stereotypes and simplifications.
  • Emotions vary. Children’s responses vary widely depending on their age, personality, actual or perceived ethnic or religious background, connection to the attacks, and exposure to other past traumatic experiences.
  • Monitor the TV and internet. Programs may include footage from 9/11 itself, and include scenes that are not appropriate for children to view at all or without supervision.
  • Know yourself. Recognizing your feelings beforehand and then sharing them honestly with your children offers them a model in their own difficult conversations and will help engender a safe, trusting environment.
  • Emphasize hope. Help your children recognize how their own compassion can prevent future acts of intolerance and violence by reminding them to express their ideas respectfully and to treat people who are different from themselves with kindness.

The 9/11 Memorial website offers several resources for parents and teachers — including lesson plans and 9/11 FAQs. Also sections on “Tribute Art & 9/11” and “The Spirit of Volunteerism.” Plus links to other “suggested resources.”

Artwork exhibited by Young Arts Arizona at the Arizona State Capitol

Additional tips are available online from Teaching Tolerance at www.tolerance.org and 9-11 Heroes at www.9-11heroes.us.

Whatever the topic, children need to know that it’s okay to have questions, to express their thoughts and feelings. They need to know their parents will listen with an open mind, not passing judgement or pushing their own agenda.

We can’t guarantee that our children will never come to harm, but we can offer them spaces and places that feel physically, emotionally and intellectually safe.

— Lynn

Note: Artwork by children at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center recently exhibited at the Arizona State Capitol by Young Arts Arizona (www.youngartsaz.org). Photos by Lynn Trimble.

Coming up: Broadway remembers 9/11, Arizona’s 9/11 memorial

Kids remember 9/11

This 9/11 Peace Story Quilt on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was designed by Faith Ringgold. It features three panels created by NYC students ages 8-19.

Folks in NYC have plenty of art-related opportunities to reflect on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this week. An art installation “made from 9/11 dust” and paintings “which contain ash from ground zero.” A quilt featuring NYC’s skyline and a quilt with three panels crafted by NYC students (pictured above). www.metmuseum.org.

A roving memorial called “Dances for Airports.” A concert for peace featuring the Juilliard String Quartet. A release of balloons inscribed with poetry in several languages. Even a human chain open to anyone who wants to join hands in Battery Park at 8:46am on Sept 10.

Work by a student from the Calhoun School class of 2006

My favorite events and exhibits feature the words and works of youth — like a series of collages created by 31 thirteen year olds who started 8th grade together at Calhoun School that tragic day. Their “9/11: Through Young Eyes,” a project coordinated by teachers Helen Bruno and Jessica Houston, will be exhibited at the D C Moore Gallery in Chelsea Sept 8 – Oct 8. www.dcmooregallery.com.

Several Arizona youth are participating in a community memorial service called “Moving Memories — Moving Forward.” The Sun, Sept 11 event is being presented by the Arizona Interfaith Movement, which seeks to “build bridges…through dialogue, service and the implementation of the Golden Rule.”

It’s taking place from 11:30am-12:30pm at the 9/11 memorial located at Wesley Bolin Plaza. The plaza is adjacent to the Arizona State Capitol at 17th Avenue and Adams Street just west of downtown Phoenix. Program highlights include remarks by Donna Killoughey Bird, a mother of two whose husband Gary Bird (a UA grad and longtime resident of Tempe) died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

High school student Kris Curtis will play the national anthem on trumpet after emcee Pat McMahon opens the ceremony. Following several prayers and speakers, ten children will “say the Golden Rule from ten different faith traditions.” www.azifm.org.

Eighth grade students from the Temple Emanu-El Kurn Religious School in Tucson will lead a “9/11 Interfaith Memorial Service” Sun, Sept 11 (10am) at Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging. www.handmaker.org.

A new book titled “Art for Heart: Remembering 9/11” (with introduction by Alice M. Greenwald) features drawings, murals, paintings and poems by children who were affected by the terrorist attack.

“The Day Our World Changed: Children’s Art of 9/11” (by Robin F. Goodman, Ph.D. and Andrea Henderson Fahnestock) began as a project of the New York Child Study Center in NYC. It was published several years ago, but it’s every bit as compelling today.

Many of the works featured in “The Day Our World Changed” have been donated to the 9/11 Memorial Museum in Lower Manhattan, which first opens for families on 9/11 this year. The general public can visit the museum (with pre-purchased tickets due to high demand) starting 9/12. My daughter Lizabeth plans to tour the museum this week with other students from Pace University. www.911memorial.org.

NBC airs a Darlow Smithson Productions documentary titled “Children of 9/11” tonight, Sept 5, but folks who miss it can watch local listings for rebroadcast information. More than 3,000 children lost a parent on 9/11, and this special follows 11 of them for a period of one year.

The Day Our World Changed includes this work by Matthew Sussman

If you missed the Sept 1 broadcast of “What Happened? The Story of September 11, 2001,” a 30-minute Nickelodeon program geared for younger viewers, you can watch it online — then read an online discussion guide created by psychologist Robin H. Gurwitch, Ph.D. for Nickelodeon and the American Psychological Association. www.nicknews.com and www.parentsconnect.com.

Stories of more than 40 twins who lost a sibling on 9/11 are the subject of a BBC Wales documentary titled “Twins of the Twin Towers.” It’s being broadcast on Sun, Sept 11 on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

Be thoughtful, in the days ahead, about how much time you spend watching programs that show the traumatic events of 9/11 in graphic detail. Most aren’t suitable for children, and even kids who didn’t lose a loved one on 9/11 can feel traumatized by exposure to the events of that day.

— Lynn

Note: Donna Killoughey Bird will share her story several times in comings days. Hear her speak Tues, Sept 6 (noon) at the Mustang Library auditorium or Thurs, Sept 15 (6pm) at the Civic Center Library auditorium in Scottsdale (Register at www.scottsdaleaz.gov). Or meet her Sun, Sept 11 (3pm) at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, where she’ll be signing “Nothing Will Separate Us” (part of the proceeds go to scholarships, service awards and educational support for young adults). www.changinghands.com/event.

Coming up: 9/11 takes center stage, Children’s books inspired by 9/11

Update: Find a collection of children’s drawings from “The Day Our World Changed” at www.pbs.org/newshour/multimedia/911children

For Christopher

For our cherished son, Christopher, a sampling of powerful words and images exhibited by Young Arts Arizona at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center…

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For those not yet familiar with the work of Young Arts Arizona and their many community partnerships, click here to learn more. And please join me in thanking the children and teens who created these inspiring works.

— Lynn

Note: Thinking how amazing kids’ art looked when framed and exhibited? Consider framing your own children’s art for hanging at home or sharing as gifts (Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are just around the corner).

Coming up: Green Day meets ASA, Focus on Free Arts, Theater lingo: Greasepaint