Saturday, December 27, 2014

Why #ArtMatters in the Community

The reason I have been MIA is because something really awesome has been happening in my buildings....Thanks to this read on the Art of Ed, I decided to do an advocacy and community service project with my students as something to do while everyone was getting caught up on work before break. And let's be real, not a lot of serious things can be accomplished in the days leading up to winter break so might as well utilize their energy for an awesome art experience! All it took was a phone call to a local grocery store and picking up and dropping off bags to make it happen!

About two weeks before I decided to do this project and got the okay from my Art coordinator, I called one of our local grocery stores and asked to talk to a manger. I could barely get out two sentences before he jumped on the idea. However, he was a little shocked when I said 900 bags but I told him I was being optimistic and may return blank ones.

Before students started we talked about community and how these bags were not just a reflection of us but the grocery store. Therefore, we needed to draw things on the bags that everyone would want and that were respectful. We talked about how not everyone celebrates Christmas so we should expand our ideas beyond that.... then they were off to work! I asked that all students working on these do at least two to get through enough bags but many did more! Kindergarten through sixth grade participated which really made for a large variety of art on the bags. All in all 728 bags were returned with Art!!

The advocacy piece was creating labels with a QR code (super easy with Avery label maker online) and attaching them on the bags. The QR code gets scanned by a Smart Phone or Tablet and takes the person to the website attached to the code. In this case the very famous Elliot Eisner 10 reasons...It really wasn't extra work doing the labels because I needed to check all the bags anyways to make sure no inappropriate ones got passed me during class.

I returned the bags on three separate occasions, whenever I had enough to bundle, and enough to go out at each register.... I was so excited to see it even reach social media in our community via was a post that got passed along to me!

"Love this bag from the grocery store. What a happy surprise to find while unpacking the groceries. Thank you, Jenna! ‪#‎ArtMatters"

The feedback on the grocery store end was so great too, that during the last drop off I talked to the manger I organized it with and he cannot wait to do it again in the near future! Here is a look at a few more, wish I would have taken more pictures!


  1. Did you do any non-holiday themed bags with your students? I always am diligent in my efforts to avoid the holiday themes due to the cultural differences of my students so have avoided becoming involved in this type effort. I love your results and all the positives it brought to your program. I'm wondering if it would work as well if the holidays were avoided and a general art theme was put into place instead. Based on your experience, any feedback?

    1. A TON of them where non-holiday themed. A lot of snowmen, penguins, snowy woods....I just missed taking pictures of those kind and didn't realize until it was too late! I was really in the Christmas spirit :)

      I think when we do this again in the spring or at the end of the year there won't really be a "holiday" at that time so it will be a lot more open ended. I'm a sucker for seasons so likely it will be centered around them maybe even incorporating a mini flower drawing lesson with the bags for spring?