It was a day of celebration at Loyola Marymount University as more than 150 elementary-school students converged on the campus for the 10-year anniversary of “ARTSmart.”
The college-based program was started by Loyola Marymount University professor Terry Lenihan whose team of volunteer students visits the nearby Westside Global Awareness Magnet School to give the children weekly art lessons.
“It’s a way to have an art program and to develop the skills the art program brings to them, being able to express themselves and use critical thinking and their imagination,” said said Lenihan who is an associate professor in the Department of Art and Art History. “It’s about thinking out of the box and being innovative. They need those skills going out into the workplace.”
It comes in handy for the students who, otherwise, would not be exposed to art. She said the students also benefit from being able to visit a college campus which she hopes serves as a source of inspiration for them in the future.
“They look forward to it, and they enjoy it,” said Westside special education teacher Susan Ramirez of the program. “They take advantage of what’s presented to them. It takes them out of their regular routine.”
The children patiently sat through a short program Friday touting the merits of "ARTSmart" before they ran off to participate in a host of arts and crafts activities, including making party masks, decorating cookies and creating decorative art.
Actress Kate Micucci, a 2003 graduate of Loyola Marymount, showed up to sing a song to the kids that she created in honor of the occasion. She volunteered with the program during her undergraduate years as an art major.
“I always loved kids and teaching art,” she said. “I was there its first year, and it seemed like such a cool thing to do. It’s just something special.”
The children also had the opportunity to see some of their art work on display at a gallery on campus. It was a moment of great pride for fourth-grader Brandon Burrell.
“It’s awesome when you get to come into a gallery like this and see your art on the wall,” Burrell said. “It makes you feel like Picasso.”
Barbara Busse, Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts, told the young students that nothing compares to the experience "ARTSmart" gives them.
“It’s really important to let whatever is inside of you come out, so all the world can see it,” Busse said.