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Students Make Sense of the Pandemic Through Art

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many teachers to quickly create engaging distance learning and support for their students. Sheboygan North High School art teacher and art gallery director, Frank Juarez, has been busy working with students to cope with and find comfort in their new normal. He asked students in his Art Foundations 2 and Senior Art 2 classes to respond to the following questions:

  1. How do we cope with what is becoming our new norm?

  2. In what ways can we find comfort in what we experience from our own homes? How can we use art to heal?

What Juarez’s students came up with serves a much broader community. They ended up creating a free, downloadable coloring book, full of students’ drawings, representing their thoughts and feelings about the pandemic. “The thing that I love about art is how it provides us with a way to express ourselves,” Juarez said. “It is a great medium to reflect and to make sense of what is happening. No matter where we live, we are all facing the same challenges.

student illustration
Illustration by Ariel Crandell

The coloring book can be downloaded and shared, courtesy of Sheboygan North High School and contributing artists.

Juarez encourages everyone to create their own pages as well: on pages 31 and 32 of the coloring book, you can make your own illustrations. “It brings me joy knowing that art can be a way of escape even if it is for a moment,” he said.

The Sheboygan North High Art Department will also host its first online student art exhibition featuring the works of Art Foundations 4 students. The exhibition is called "Reflections on this Moment in Time" and runs through June 13, 2020. Check out the featured artists’ work and accompanying statements portraying students’ perspectives during this time.

Do you have some positive education news? What is your school or district doing to support all students’ learning? Provide mental health services? Assist in childcare for frontline workers? Partner with your local community? Share your positive message with the DPI by filling out the Share Your Positive Education News form and your story could be highlighted in an upcoming issue of DPI-ConnectEd or on social media.