“The Power of Paint”

“How science is changing the way schools think about art”

“On most days, San Bernardino’s Barton Elementary looks like most other California schools struggling to make ends meet: There are the familiar modular classrooms, concrete quads and windows covered by metal latticework — an unfortunate reality for children living in high-poverty communities across the nation. But this February day is special. Leaning against the taupe walls, striking images of children’s faces, painted with the expertise and expression of true artists, peer back at the very students who painted them. Children talk excitedly about their creations. For most fifth graders at Barton, it’s the first time they’ve painted a self-portrait — and they’re loving every minute of it.”

Meet the Artists

Barton Elementary, just a few miles from the Inland Regional Center, where the terrorist shooting in December shook the community and the nation, is one of 49 schools currently participating in Turnaround Arts. Turnaround Arts, a combination public-private program organized by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, has a mission across 14 states and 27 districts to use arts education as a catalyst to improve the nation’s bottom-performing five percent of schools.

Each school is assigned a high-profile artist, musician or entertainer — Kerry Washington, Chuck Close, Yo-Ya Ma and Jason Mraz to name a few — who, for the duration of the program, will work with students in an effort to inspire and drive creativity across disciplines. Autumn de Forest, a 14-year-old painter from Las Vegas, who has been called a “prodigy” and “genius” by talk show hosts and journalists, is leading the day’s art class. Miss de Forest (as Barton’s students respectfully call her), is showing the kids how to paint images of themselves on canvas…

Continue reading this New York Times article here.