NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Department of Art is using the stroke of a brush to inspire local youth.
A mural project at Warner Arts Elementary Magnet School, themed “Imagine Your Future,” is the brainchild of Lakesha Moore, artist and assistant professor of art at TSU. She, along with some of her students, have visited the school twice a week (since May) to work on the mural, located on a wall in an open area where students converge when they enter the building.
The painting consists of a series of silhouettes of occupations that Moore says students can choose from in the future, along with other figures that not only support those decisions and careers, but also “give students the opportunity to discover their own pathways.”
“It (mural) is meant to show these students that they have options and their potential is limitless,” Moore said. “Our hope is that students at Warner will not only imagine themselves as these figures, but beyond the ones that we have highlighted.”
School principal Denise Jacono said she’s looking forward to seeing the kids’ faces when they see the mural.
“They are going to take a look at that (mural) and they are going to say, ‘Wow!’”
The mural project is just one of several art education programs TSU’s art department is involved in around the city.
At the Madison Community Center in Madison, Tennessee, third grader and future artist Autumn Berry is spending her summer honing her skills with help from artist and assistant professor of art Brandon J. Donahue and five of his TSU students.
“The first thing I started with was my skin because you want to see if you get your skin right before you do your shirt,” Berry said, as she displayed her project, a painting of herself on a canvass. She wants to be an artist, but also a designer.
“I started on my shirt which I painted purple, because it is my favorite color, and I also want to be a designer so I put some lines on my shirt,” Berry, a student at East End Preparatory School, added.
Berry is one of 32 students in grades 1-7 working with Donohue. The TSU professor, who is teaching the students painting and drawing, is using a community service grant from the Metro Nashville Arts Commission to conduct the art education project at the center. Kappa Art Fraternity is also helping, Donohue said.
Like Berry, each student is creating a silhouette of things that depict community and family. The finished products will be displayed in a new annex to the community center that is due to open in February, according to Donohue.
“These kids are very excited about their work,” he said. “We are teaching them how to paint, how to collage, and how to take their silhouettes and fill them in with things that mean families. We are working on symbols, what they mean, how to use them, and how to communicate visually.”
Donohue said he is glad to be a part of TSU’s community partnership and outreach.
Elizabeth Reed is a TSU art education major. She is helping with the projects at Warner Elementary and the Madison Community Center.
“I am really excited to work with these projects because they help me get more experience,” said Reed, a junior from Nashville. “The mural project will really help brighten up the school. Whenever the kids walk in their eyes are going to be drawn to all the bright colors. I think this will really help get them interested in art.”
Anita Gregory-Smith, the program coordinator at the Madison Community Center, is very thankful to TSU for the art project, which she also hopes will promote awareness and interest in art among the students.
“The program itself is bringing the kids and giving them a hands-on experience in creating their own thoughts and arts for their silhouettes,” Gregory-Smith said. “I think the kids did very well on those projects. They brought their own energy. It is amazing what they think about it right now.”
For more information about TSU‘s art department, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/art/
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.