Milwaukee Art Museum showcases work by Educare children

Artwork created by Educare Milwaukee children was on display at the Milwaukee Art Museum on May 17 for a special family event, where the children and their families were the guest hosts. The colorful paintings and drawings—each class offering their own take on the works of Wisconsin native Georgia O’Keefe—now line the walls of the school, showcasing Educare Milwaukee’s expanding arts program.

Knowing that the integration of the arts is an important feature of the Educare model and a personal passion of hers, education manager Jill Udell took on the additional role of arts coordinator for the school in January 2014. She began by engaging teachers at the school in a series of arts training to introduce them to various artists and encourage them to create their own works of art.

“It was really to inspire them to do art with children and see how that strengthens the program,” Udell said. “What the arts bring to children in terms of joy cannot be underestimated. It’s such a natural way for children to learn, to become confident and to have joy.”

Sparked by the teachers’ interest in the art, especially the bright, abstract works of Wassily Kandinsky, Udell planned a family art night last July around the artist’s work. She also took the whole school staff to see the Kandinsky exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Udell then learned about an opportunity for Educare Milwaukee to guest host one of the Kohl’s Art Generation Family Sundays at the museum.

Throughout the year, Udell worked with the teachers to introduce O’Keefe’s artwork to the children. Children in each classroom chose a piece of art that inspired them to recreate using their own creative expression, and wrote a narrative about their worksto display at the museum.

For the event, Educare Milwaukee brought 100 children and families to see the children’s artwork on display and engage in family art projects.

“I think the most important thing is the parent-child relationship. That’s what we’re trying to encourage, the bonding and strengthening,” Udell said. “That’s why my favorite pictures from the events are the ones with families. They are creating together. They always have either smiles on their faces or intense looks of concentration on their faces, and they’re connected.”

The event was a success, so Udell plans to repeat it again next year. She has also worked on partnerships with other organizations, including the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, to connect to the community and bring more visual, musical and dramatic arts opportunities to their children and families.

“I’m getting to bring my love of the arts to these children and their families and beyond—families whomaybe have never gone to the art museum before or families who have never seen an opera before and giving them opportunities to do so,” Udell said.

Watch Next Door Milwaukee’s slideshow about the event.