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Rainbow Artists: Art & Autism Across the Spectrum

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BC: "Patience. Patience. Patience. Work to view my autism as a different ability rather than a disability. Look past what you may see as limitations and see the gifts autism has given me. It may be true that I’m not good at eye contact or conversation, but have you noticed that I don’t lie, cheat at games, tattle on my classmates or pass judgment on other people? Also true that I probably won’t be the next Michael Jordan. But with my attention to fine detail and capacity for extraordinary focus, I might be the next Einstein. Or Mozart. Or Van Gogh." -Ellen Notbohm, Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew

FC: 2012 | Rainbow Artists | Art & Autism Across the Spectrum | MOCA

1: Museum of Contemporary Art| Jacksonville, FL

2: The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, a private non-profit visual arts educational institution and cultural resource of the University of North Florida, serves the community and its visitors through exhibitions, collections, educational programs, and publications designed to enhance an understanding and appreciation of modern and contemporary art with particular emphasis on works created from 1960 to the present.

4: Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys. There are no cures for autism. Children with autism are characterized by social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors. | The Problem

6: "An educational initiative designed exclusively for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Rainbow Artists utilize creative art-making activities that allow for rich visual expressions that are often untapped due to difficulties in verbal communication, social relations, and sensory development. Designed with three educational components, studio, galleries and our hands-on ArtExplorium Loft, the Rainbow Artists programs use art and art-making activities to pro mote socialization and social interaction of children with autism." | A Solution

7: Rainbow Artists: Art & Autism Across the Spectrum

8: KRABI, SOUTH END | November 9

9: For this educational program, MOCA partnered with four Duval County elementary schools to collaborate on, create, and experience art as a way to cope with the day-to-day struggles that those on the Autism Spectrum must face. *Greenfield Elementary* *Kernan Trail Elementary* *Pinedale Elementary* *Loretto Elementary* | Partnership

10: Starting at the beginning of this school year, students from each of the schools were brought to the museum to see the galleries, work within the studio space, and experience art concepts in the ArtExplorium Loft. The children visited the museum multiple times during the first half of the year. During their visits, teachers as well as the museum's education staff began facilitating a collaborative art project with the students. For each school, the students provided multiple projects to be displayed in a museum exhibition beginning in April--Autism Awareness Month. The creation of these art works helped with many social-interaction difficulties, communication issues, as well as other anti-social tendencies. | The Program

11: A parent with her 5 year old son who is Autistic in the ArtExplorium Loft | A student creating art in the museum studio. (From MOCA website.)

12: The end goal of the program was not necessarily to have works of art to exhibit but to have introduced the students to the world of art while building habits and skills that can help them cope with their social insecurities, sensory development, and communication challenges. To celebrate the students' growth and accomplishments as well as Autism Awareness Month, MOCA has installed all of the Rainbow Artists' works in an exhibit that runs from April 1st - May 27th, 2011. Each of the works is accompanied by a text panel that identifies what school, grade, and class the work was created by as well as why the topic or medium was specifically beneficial to students on the autism spectrum. | The Exhibition

13: “If they can't learn the way we teach, we teach the way they learn” O. Ivar Lovaas

14: 3rd - 6th grade | Greenfield Elementary

15: This collage, made of acrylic paint and ripped paper, was designed to promote body awareness and team work. Students were encouraged to communicate by working teams: one student would pose while the other would trace the shape on the board. The next step was to glue down tissue papers in either warm or cool colors. This presented an issue for some students as they have sensitivity to texture--particularly the texture of the tacky glue that was used. One student in particular had great issue with the "messy" project and was coached by his teacher to take deep breathes and other self-soothing techniques. The student was able to calm himself down, take his time, and complete his part of the art project. | Strike A Pose!

16: Everyone is a Star! | Much like the previous work created at Greenfield Elementary, this was a lesson in body awareness and team work. The students began the project in the same manner: teams of two, alternating posing and tracing the forms. Next, they were instructed to fill in the forms using shades of white, gray, and black. The color scheme was chosen to soothe the students' anxiety that was created by the small space they were working in as a group and by the messiness of the glue they were using to create textures within the forms.

17: 3rd & 4th Grade| Kernan Trail Elementary

18: Though no formal evaluation was present during the program or at the exhibition reception, the teachers and educational museum staff will continue to collaborate on what aspects of the program worked and which did not. It is clear from the text panels accompanying many of the works that there were successes for the students in overcoming their social - social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges, and other issues associated with the Autism Spectrum. It is clear from the reaction and excited of the students, teachers, museum education staff, and parents present at the exhibition's opening reception that this was an overall positive experience and the museum has hopes to continue the project next year. | Evaluation

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  • By: Jamie B.
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  • Title: Rainbow Artists: Art & Autism Across the Spectrum
  • Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art
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  • Published: about 6 years ago