Summer semester at North Fourth Art Center began June 11th with a whole lot of anticipation and excitement accompanied by a certain amount of chaos and confusion as students made their ways to class. It was a typical new semester experience, whether kindergarten or grad school. After all what is new is always exhilarating but often just a little scary as well.
Although I am neither a visual nor performing artist, I do love school of every kind, and I am imagining that studies filled with paint and clay, with music and dance, offer the best of all possible worlds.
In the future, we’ll visit some of the new classes and the students who attend them in order to nourish their creativity and to further their careers as artists.
Before getting into the details of classes and activities, I want to talk about North Fourth Art Center’s mission and how it relates to the big picture of Intellectual/Developmental Disability (I/DD) Waiver Services.
There is something of a conflict going on in the service world for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities. One stream of thought is that no individual with a disability should spend time in an environment that isn’t fully integrated and, additionally, that the majority of activities in which they participate should be aimed at job development. The other stream places more emphasis on freedom of choice and the individual’s right to choose activities and friends, peers and peer groups with whom he or she identifies most readily and happily.
At North Fourth we happily swim in the stream of choice. Our arts activities and classes are based on the fact that individuals choose to attend our center because they want to participate in the arts as students and creators. They also want to select the kinds of artistic adventures in which to engage, whether visual, performing or literary. They want to learn and they want to share the results of their studies. They want to make and perform artworks and to earn some part of their livelihood within the arts. We give them that choice.
Classes at North Fourth are taught by teachers educated in the arts and trained to engage with individuals possessing a variety of learning styles. Certainly individuals enrolled at North Fourth are informed and made aware of other choices for their arts education/studio opportunities such as CNM or UNM, but we do not find it unusual if they prefer to be part of North Fourth Art Center which is tailored to and especially welcoming of diversely enabled learners.
North Fourth Art Center is an uplifting, invigorating, and engaging place, and 98% of the time, it’s a lot of fun.