The Art Space
A Collaboration between SAVE the Children Jordan and The Iraqi Children's Art Exchange
ICAE began working with SAVE the Children Jordan in 2007, when SC staff visited the Webdah School and Family Center; a grant from SC helped fund teacher training and other professional development opportunities at the school.
In the fall of 2008 ICAE began serious discussions about using the Weibdah school as a model for a larger project in collaboration with SAVE the Children Jordan. The project became known as The Art Space; it was implemented in the summer of 2009. ICAE worked closely with administrators and educational staff of SAVE the Children to design and implement a program that would serve the 200+ vulnerable preschool and kindergarten children at the Al Nuzha Education and Training Center in Amman. We would renovate, equip and staff a large room - a children's atelier--and we would help develop and support educational innitiatives to integrate art into the early childhood curriculum at the center.
Children should draw, paint and sculpt for the pleasure of it, but we know the creative process is important beyond this. Children use art materials to explore, discover and learn about the sometimes baffling world around them and about their place in it. Art is an expressive medium. Children tell us about themselves and their lives, providing teachers and other caring adults with an important opportunity to understand the child and respond. Art is an important and logical compliment to early childhood education programs. It encourages and supports important habits of mind --critical thinking, problem solving, observation, reflection, and creativity-- that contribute to successful learning and educational outcomes.
In the same way that art compliments the educational process, we feel it is important to locate art projects in educational settings. Projects require something more than an invitation to draw or paint;, there will need to be conversations, explanations, explorations and dialogue: what can we say about ourselves with our art? What can we learn about others from their art? It is our hope that these cross-cultural projects open windows of opportunity for learning, understanding and mutual respect.
The project was initiated with funds donated to ICAE through a fundraising effort in Orinda California: Project Farasha.