Illinois Art Station stimulates creative thought and expression in the visual arts – News

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An eye-catching pickup truck in bright colors has made appearances in Bloomington-Normal. Sporting the words “Illinois Art Station” and a seal of Illinois State University, it provides transportation to the Illinois Art Station, a brand new interdisciplinary art space and educational resource committed to fostering thought and culture. creative expression in the visual arts.

Its mission is to provide all children, youth and their families with transformative learning through hands-on experiences in the visual arts. Its staff are also engaged in their role of supporting Illinois State University’s academic mission by providing opportunities for students and faculty to pursue learning, scholarship, and civic engagement through the visual arts.

Laura Berk Emeritus Professor of Psychology

During her impressive career, Professor Emeritus of Psychology Laura Berk has conducted groundbreaking research documenting the importance of play in a child’s development. Over time, she came to feel that art is also an important part in the process of learning self-expression and valuing and appreciating the creations of others.

This led her to suggest and support the creation of the Illinois Art Station. “My goals are to capitalize on the unique power of the visual arts to reach and inspire our children and youth in all their diversity and deepen their understanding of themselves, their community and their world at large,” said Berk.

Isra El-bashir, director of the Illinois Art Station

Isra El-beshir, director of the Illinois Art Station

Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean Marla Reese-Weber took on the responsibility of coordinating efforts to secure offices, hire staff, and articulate the project’s mission. An interdisciplinary committee representing several colleges has been created. In particular, the College of Fine Arts played an important role in the making of the Illinois Art Station. Isra El-beshir is the director of the Illinois Art Station. She holds an MA in Cultural Anthropology from Wayne State University.

“I am blessed to have been chosen to lead efforts to establish and open up our exciting interdisciplinary arts space supported by visual arts, social justice and scholarship,” El-beshir said. “We hope to become a famous community anchor and a leader in visual arts education. “

Prior to joining the ISU staff, El-beshir was Curator of Education and Public Programming at the Arab American National Museum, a division of the Smithsonian, in Dearborn, Michigan.

Peggy Finnegan-Boyes recently joined the Illinois State staff as Curator of Education for the Illinois Art Station. She received her MA in Arts Education from Illinois State University in 2008 and taught visual arts at Thomas Metcalf School for eight years.

“I am delighted to be back at ISU to plan innovative artistic experiences for the youth and adolescents in our community,” said Finnegan-Boyes. “I am grateful that we have been welcomed by so many different groups of people through our partnerships with community organizations, and I look forward to continuing to build positive relationships between our youth, our teens and our artist teachers this year.”

Finnegan-Boyes returned to her alma mater after a stint as a visual arts professor at the Academic Excellence for the Scholar, Athlete, and Artist (AESA) Prep Academy in Austin, Texas.

Peggy Finnegan-Boyes, Curator of Education for Illinois Art Station

Peggy Finnegan-Boyes, Curator of Education for Illinois Art Station

In July, the Illinois Art Station worked with the City of Bloomington Citizens’ Beautification Committee to organize a community youth mural project. For three days, 12 middle and high school students worked alongside artist teacher and ISU MFA graduate Jeremy Langston to paint a mural along the Constitution Trail underpass under Washington Street in Bloomington.

“Our goal was to engage and empower young people in the community in a meaningful way and inspire them to approach public spaces as art incubators,” El-beshir said.

The project gave young people the opportunity to learn basic skills in mural painting and visual representations while exploring community issues.

“It’s wonderful to see how the Illinois Art Station brought together young people from across the community to express themselves creatively,” said English professor and associate dean Sally Parry, who attended the unveiling of the mural on July 14.

Currently, the Illinois Art Station is housed in temporary offices at Williams Hall. Work is underway to find a permanent space that can accommodate a wide range of projects and activities.

“I am delighted to witness the development and implementation of such a creative and innovative project that invests in children and families. I look forward to the future growth of the Illinois Art Station and all the good work that enriches our students’ learning experience and scholarship opportunities while enriching our community, ”Social Work Professor and Acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences said Diane Zosky.


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