Creating opportunity for kids from all backgrounds and upbringings is critical. I explored this idea by experimenting with using found objects and natural materials as art tools. I took this experiment to a group of kids I know well who live in an under-resourced community in East Austin to see how they would respond.
The process looked like this:
I headed over to Santa Rita Courts and told the kids we are finding and collecting things from outside to use to draw with. They took off together as a group, inviting more of their friends over to join them in this activity. It became less of an individual process and more of a community joining together on a journey of discovery. As they picked up leaves, flowers, rocks, sticks, snail shells, and even a toothbrush from outside in their environment, they would consult with one another on their findings and run up to show me the treasure they had found with a beaming smile on their face as though they were proud of what they had discovered.
Once they finished collecting the items, they gathered together and placed what they found into a box, sorting it by color, plant/ object type, and even size. I found that having some kind of container to hold the tools in like a box was very helpful for the kids to see what was available for when they started art.
Then we moved to the basketball courts where I had placed large pieces of paper for them to play around with the materials on. During their first marks on the paper, they became amazed at the fact that they could use these objects found outside to draw with. Together, they filled the sheets with random marks that were more of an experimentation than actually creating an intentional work of art. I brought them coloring sheets to possibly use, but they were more excited about the blank sheet of paper.
My vision for OUTLET is to be useful and accessible to all, not just those with resources. Incorporating exercises such as this, where natural and found objects were the only tools used, will allow kids in even the most remote or under-resourced areas an opportunity to find expression and healing through art.