A couple months ago East’s Creative Co-lab club was named one of the three finalists, along with Bule Springs and Liberty School District, for the Education Award by ArtsKC, an organization that brings people, art and ideas together. The Education Award is based on how these groups have promoted art education in the Kansas City community.
Creative Co-lab is a club that raises money by creating different projects involving science, art, literature and other subject areas. The 40 students involved work on their projects all year for their showcase in May. The students pair up and collaborate on what project they can work on as a team, both during class and after school. The projects are displayed at a warehouse in the West Bottoms and sold to those who come to the art gallery. Half of the money made is donated back to the club to help fund field trips and materials, while the other half goes to the artist.
“The students have worked hard on their projects all year, and it’s incredible to be nominated,” Creative Co-lab sponsorer and art teacher Adam Finkelston said.
The club is a finalist for the award based on their club overall and the promotion of art education in the Kansas City community. Creative Co-lab is partnered up with Healthy Rivers Partnership to help the students benefit by seeing the city in a different perspective. Students go on a field trip to the Missouri River hosted by Vicki Richmond at Healthy Rivers Partnership.
“We use the field trips to have students look at connections in a new way that they have never seen before,” Richmond said. “Most students grew up here and have never seen downtown Kansas City from the river or even been on the river. It gives them a new perspective.”
Most Saturdays, there are work days in the group’s warehouse where they begin by sweeping, dusting and mopping the place. They are also working to keep up with their new rooftop garden, and preparing to add a vegetable garden in the spring. Richmond is in the installation stage of the process of setting up all the artwork as it gets closer and closer to that May date where Finkelston helps the students with their projects. Finkelston brings in guest speakers to influence the students on how they can collaborate as a team and helps them think of ideas that are more abstract.
“I brought in an artist this year, Jose Faus, who is an amazing artist, writer and mentor,” Finkelston said. “It helps them see how they can collaborate on different subjects and it eventually clicks for all the kids and they connect it back to what Faus talked to them about.”
The students are impressed by being nominated for the award. They are pleased to be recognized by one of the most well known, well funded programs that gives grants to the arts both to individual artists up to the city level benefitting the teaching of arts in KC.
“It is exciting to get nominated,” said member of Creative Co-lab junior Natalie Roth. “Creative Co-lab gives us the opportunity to work on projects freely and have our own creativity.”
In February, the group will attend the ArtsKC banquet to find out if they won the award. Until then, students will continue to work on their project and collaborate with each other.