The After School Art Program is about creating a safe environment for teens to explore their creativity... and we're not talking the conventional paint-by-numbers kind of exploration. After its conception on Sept 18 of this year, the After School Art Program... or ASAP... has featured everything from "leaf" art to painting outside, to a 'NON-paper chain' of human silhouettes using sidewalk chalk! What a great chance to explore.

Recently, in a speech delivered to Hanover School Division teachers and trustees, instructor Kyra Guenther shared her vision for the program in a moving, well-worded speech:

Look around you. Who do you think looks like an artist?

I can tell you right now that everyone in this room does art of some form. Whether that is painting, sculpting, photography, knitting, poetry, music, word vomit… everyone creates on some level.

I’ve never delivered a ‘speech’ before, which is why I said yes to doing this today, I wanted to do something I didn’t know how to do, and offer you the experience of watching someone fumble, because I think maybe that’s what art should offer. An opportunity to recognize our common humanity and vulnerability. As teachers, principals, superintendents you do that every day. You offer the students a chance to see someone be real, raw, someone full of courage, vulnerability, and honesty. And with that, the stuff we put into this world can serve a better purpose and you as educators can really begin to make a difference in the lives of your students.

Tony Donkersloot was such an educator! He is one of those teachers who will be remembered by his students’ years later. Mr. D was able to impact even the hard and cold students. My brother was one of those, but he saw something in Mr.D. He saw a man that was genuine, someone who really wanted to understand his students, and a man who wasn’t afraid to be open and vulnerable. My brother respected Mr. D more than anyone and the impact he had on my brother’s life will be remembered for years to come. Mr. D and the impact he’s had on students is something we should all aspire to.

Art is not just a subject you take in school; it’s a way of viewing everyday life, to be able to see the beauty in the world around you. As humans we get to think about things, we get to wonder. It seems like quite a privileged position in the universe. I believe teaching students to see the world this way is important, it gives us an appreciation for things and for others talents. Art and the process of creating is bringing something into existence, birthing it. And you can’t do that well without putting a little piece of yourself into your art. Art is also very therapeutic, it allows you to express whatever is inside you, whether that be a feeling, dream, experience you may have had, it allows you to get these things out from inside of you.

I have the privilege of running the After School Art Program or as we like to call it ASAP. This is a program we developed specifically to reach the youth of our community. I believe, and the staff here at the Steinbach Arts Council, believe that everyone needs to be given a chance to create and bring to life the things we have engulfing our minds.

This program strives to do that, to provide a safe place where teens can come discover new and fun ways to express themselves. We run Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4:15- 6 and it’s for anyone ages 13-17, and we need your help promoting this. So if you know of any students who need a safe place to create and express themselves, this would be the place for them!"

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About the Steinbach Arts Council

The Steinbach Arts Council, an umbrella organization for performing and visual arts groups, enriches the lives of our community through development of local artists and musicians and exposure to professional art forms. The Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre is a home for all these groups and their programs. It’s purpose is to create an environment where all arts disciplines can work together under one roof and share their resources and their talents with each other, and the entire Arts Community!

For more info, visit steinbachartscouncil.ca.

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