The Public Art Initiative between the Albright Knox Art Gallery and Erie County has now headed into area schools. WBFO'S Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley says thanks to a generous donations 60,000 art kits will be in the hands of local school students.
Making sure art is in classrooms is one of the goals of the Public Art Initiative in Buffalo. This week Erie County, city and Albright Knox leaders appeared before a group of art students at BEST School #6 in Buffalo. 20,000 art kits have already been distributed to the Buffalo Public School District.
Michele Agosto is the city school district’s Supervisor of Curriculum in Art Education. She's encouraging students to embrace these art kits.
"I want you guys to take advantage of these -- these are amazing resources, so really take advantage," said Agosto as she addressed BEST students.
The district includes Public Art as a part of its curriculum. BEST school eighth graders Dominique Paige and Clarence Mosley are already using the kits. Both students are interested in the classic works of Pablo Picasso.
"When I look at different types of art, from different time periods is how human beings express themselves, and I thing that is great, to see it from another person's point of view," said Mosley.
Asked if Paige was excited about the receiving the art kits, she responded "Yes, because we never did this before."
Albright Knox Director Janne Sirén started the Public Arts initiative a year ago in Buffalo. He led a similar one in his native Finland. Siren tells WBFO it's so important to get art into the hands of inner-city and impoverished students.
"You know one of the things we notice from different schools in different countries is that it is very important to empower young people. To enhance their sense of self and their self of identity," said Sirén.
The remaining 40-art kits are now headed for other schools across Erie County. Janet and Peter Boris donated $500,000 for the kits. Inside those kits are paints, artist paintbrushes and other materials -- allowing students to use their imaginations and create a piece of art work.
After most of the media departed the school, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown put out a challenge to the BEST art students.
"Best pictures that you do, chosen by your teacher and the other teachers, will be on display in the mayor's office," stated Mayor Brown.