Region 15 Elementary Schools have installed a series of photographic art from The Besharat Art Foundation. Each of the Region's four elementary schools were recipients of the photographic art exhibit and the art is mounted in the hallways and common spaces of each building.
Obtained through The Besharats Art Foundation’s “Art in Schools” project, the purpose of the project is to bring to schools works of art to inspire empathy and understanding, encourage global connectedness, and allow children to see a common humanity in an increasingly diverse world.
Each photograph in the collection features children from around the world taken by five different photographers, and contains the name of the country the photograph was taken
The foundation brings art to the schools for free with the request that the school provides the foundation with feedback on the art and project.
Installation in Region 15 began this spring, and teachers have been bringing their students to view and discuss the artwork, using guided lessons to inspire class engagement.
Students find details they relate and connect to personally, and class conversation is framed around looking for commonalities and curiosity about the children, their culture and environment, and their actions in the photographs.
One student in second-grade expressed a moment of connection when he said “I walked out of my classroom and saw a photo from India, and I’m Indian, too! I think the children in the photo are celebrating Holi, and I just celebrated Holi!” There have been many instances across the four elementary schools when Region 15 students shared that if they had the chance to speak to the child in a photo, they’d say “do you want to play?” Students have been making close and careful observations of the photographs, sharing ideas like “if you look closely at the child’s eyes, you can see more about where the child is reflected in them” and “I think it’s important that we don’t assume something about this person. We only know what we can see in the picture.” Students note the common humanity they share with the children in the photographs, such as “we share the same need for food, water, shelter, and love.”
Teachers have demonstrated great care and intentionality in engaging students with the art, selecting specific pieces to take to their classrooms to introduce the project to students because they knew one or more children in their class trace their cultural heritages to the countries represented, such as Brazil, Bangladesh and Vietnam to name a few.
“Our hope is that we embrace this opportunity to appreciate the rich diversity of our world. We can harness this teachable moment to find similarities that bring us closer together as people, and also practice understanding people who may be different in important and beautiful ways. We also are focusing on building our capacity to use accurate and respectful language to describe people. The art offers us teachable moments in expressing curiosity in ways that increase a sense of belonging, and in ways that are nonjudgmental and deeply respectful,” said Dr. Erin Birden, Region 15’s Teacher in Residence for Diversity and Cultural Competency.
“It is a professionally curated art show on our school walls. It provides our students daily contact with thought-provoking art to build an awareness that while we all have differences, we also have similarities,” said Dr. Carrie Chiappetta, Region 15 Assistant Superintendent. “The art is mounted on foam board and is ours to keep for as long as we want and are asked by the Foundation to pay it forward by giving it to another school or returning the photos back to them.”
Additional information can be found at https://besharatfoundation.org/