“Community” through Kindergarten Eyes

One way that arts education supporters help us out is by devoting their multi-media skills to our program documentation (if you have photography/videography skills and you’re interested in spending some time taking photos or video of our school programs, contact us!). One very skilled photographer who helps us out from time to time is Alayna Kudalis, and on December 15 she visited an Urban Gateways residency at St. Elizabeth School in Bronzeville to see what teaching artist Jeff Maldonado was up to with Ms. Lemon’s kindergarten class.

Jeff is working with these young learners for an hour every Monday until the end of March, completing different small projects with them each week and allowing their artistic knowledge and confidence to blossom over the course of the school year. During the class that Alayna visited, Jeff showed Ms. Lemon’s class a piece of Mexican textile art depicting a town and asked the students what “community” means to them. Students drew images of their own communities with pencil and paper, then filled in their drawings with paint. Jeff emphasized the necessity of sharing when you’re part of a community, and put students in partners to share paint pallets. The photos below speak to the level of concentration that took over the classroom as soon as the paint appeared! This was a surprisingly tidy kindergarten class (hence Jeff’s decision to use paint with them in the first place, not something he would do with just any group of very young students), and the final products exhibited a wide variety of colors, shapes, and ideas.

Beyond this particular one-hour session, the importance of this residency is that it creates a months-long artistic process and allows students to develop their creative thinking at a comfortable pace. As Jeff said, “Ms. Lemon noticed that their art is more refined now, and their painting choices are more complex.”


Thanks to the following funders for supporting visual arts programs like this one!

Canning Foundation

Patrick G and Shirley W Ryan Foundation

Alice Welsh Skilling Foundation