Drawing Connections

"I had great people in my corner every step of the way.”

- Jessica Shotwell

Background Information

Jessica Shotwell, of McCall, Idaho, attended Alzar School during the Fall 2013 semester. When asked to identify an issue that her community faced, she noted that art budgets throughout Idaho and across the country were being cut. With less money allocated for art education, young children at crucial ages for creative development are receiving fewer and fewer opportunities to express themselves and their feelings through color and line. To combat this, she planned to offer a series of eight free art lessons to children in elementary school in order to expose them to various mediums and involve them in the creation of a public art piece.

“I wanted to complete a project that would give local kids a chance to create art, share it with members of the community, and learn teamwork.”
– Jessica

Implementation of Project

Jessica began her project shortly after returning home from Alzar School. She hoped to get around sixteen students to participate in the classes, which were held in the conference room of the McCall Public Library. Instead, twenty-two children signed up! Although the large class size was a challenge, the tireless support of a librarian and a local artist enabled the lessons to be a successful and worthwhile experience for the kids. Students learned about face proportion, pointillism, positive and negative space, and shading, among other things. Most of all, they learned about the importance of teamwork through the challenge of sharing materials and working together on a major project which is currently displayed in the children’s section of the McCall Public Library.

“It was a great experience to see young kids suddenly grasp a concept or understand a new word and know that you taught them that.”
– Jessica

Results of Project

The final group project (a collaborative pencil drawing of a bee) hangs in the McCall Public Library, a lasting reminder of the hours spent teaching and learning about the elements of art and design. Through the challenge of creating a collaborative piece of art with the kids, Jessica has learned the importance of preparation and support.  Jessica feels that, without her small team of dedicated supporters working together, her project would not have been as organized or successful.  Her efforts were featured in the local Star News.

“I’m very appreciative of everyone who helped to make this project happen. I had great people in my corner every step of the way.”
– Jessica

What’s Next

Jessica will graduate from high school in 2015 and plans to continue encouraging creativity in young children. She hopes to inspire them to go out and add vibrant color to a world that is too often viewed through the screen of a computer. Although she is not sure yet what the next few years will hold for her, she looks forward to discovering new passions and making decisions that will sustain a healthy, happy lifestyle.  This summer, she has explored the Frank Church Wilderness by backpack and is kayaking at Kelly’s Whitewater Park.  And of course, art will be involved in her future, one way or another.