Art Expression, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) charitable organization that was founded by my husband, James, and myself in 2001 as an expression of my passion for alleviating the social inequalities that exist among children of different abilities. It is a fully inclusive, after-school program that focuses on developing the social skills of children through art in the Pittsburgh area. Art therapy is not performed during the sessions but, some of the components of art therapy are used to develop positive outcomes for student. The students and their artwork is not judged. Our mission statement reads as follows: "To facilitate positive socialization with children and adolescents through expressive art activities in an inclusive educational environment."
Art Expression Inc.'s goals are as follows:
- Increase self-esteem and creative self-expression as evidenced by participants' ability to express and verbalize their feelings.
- Enhance social skills as evidenced by age-appropriate skills including ability to observe personal space of others, ability to share materials, ability to listen reflectively and comment positively on projects and ideas of other participants.
- Improve problem-solving skills as evidenced by participants' ability to identify and communicate a problem, develop a solution, seek assistance if needed, and evaluate the outcome.
- Improve frustration tolerance as evidenced by participant ability to apply problem-solving skills.
- Establish independence as evidenced by participants' ability to present themselves in an appropriate manner.
- Provide the social skills and tools necessary to participants to support themselves or others when being bullied.
- Provide a program to participants which supports academic core standards.
Art Expression Inc. has been serving fully inclusive groups of special and regular education students in the Pittsburgh area for over a decade. We are currently partnering with four school districts, Mount Lebanon, Keystone Oaks, South Allegheny, Central Greene, the East End Community Center in Uniontown, the Homeless Children's Education Fund and their shelters, the Toonseum and Operation Military Kids. To date, Art Expression programming has reached over 3,000 students and provided four innovative pilot programs.
Recognition and Awards:
- Scott Folmer Memorial Student Award, Exemplary Practice or Partnering Award which recognizes the outstanding support of children receiving special education services, May 2007.
- The American Association of School Administrators and the American Art Therapy Association have both recognized Art Expression Inc. as a model program for our nation's K-12 schools. A Tool-Kit featuring nine of the nation's most innovative after-school programs has been developed with the contributions of Art Expression Inc. The toolkit has been provided to 13,000 school districts and may be found on our website.
- Art Expression has been chosen for recognition as a 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award (NAHYP) Finalist by the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and its partner agencies, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Art Expression’s selection as one of the 50 Finalists distinguishes it as one of the top arts and humanities-based programs in the country.
Art Expression's portfolio of specialty programs includes:
- Project Eco-smArt - Combines technology, science and art to transform non-recyclable materials into renewed objects.
- From the HeArt - Serves children and military families through workshops and events, provides classes and workshops to homeless children and families through the Homeless Children’s Education Fund.
- StART Growing - Integrates science and art to address the importance of both self and environmental nurturance.
- ARTchitecture: Building Bridges - Combines engineering, math, and art with the concept of trust, peer-connections, and strength by discussing, designing, and building bridges.
Here is what South Allegheny Elementary School Principal, Alisa King, has to say about Art Expression: "The Art Expression program is loaded with fresh ideas and new possibilities for individual creations. What I love most about our program is that students are getting the social, emotional and behavioral health therapeutic resources they need without the stigma of counseling. It’s completely participant driven, with no threats of social pressure. Students are learning to manage their feelings and behaviors in more positive ways, while educating themselves on how they can manage their own personality in a big and sometimes intimidating world."
I, along with the Art Expression Board of Directors and team are passionate about helping children to lead vibrant, healthy and fulfilling lives, and we hope that you will join us in this mission. Please visit our website at artexpressioninc.org for further information about our outstanding organization and explore our student's artwork through our interactive art galleries at artexpressiongalleries.org. If you have any additional comments or questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you for your time, efforts and consideration of forging a new partnership with our team at Art Expression, Inc.
Founder and President
Art Expression, Inc.