We have launched a dynamic digital programme for the Bermuda National Gallery Youth Arts Council in association with artist and educator Sarai Hines.
The free programme, which is aimed at students aged 13-17, provides opportunities for creative and independent thinking by engaging with the arts and culture of today.
We sat down with Sarai to discuss her vision for the programme and how the BNG Youth Arts Council can meet the needs of teens today.
BNG: You graduated with a BFA in Fine Arts with a minor in Child Development from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University in Boston. Did you always want to be an art teacher?
SH: I always knew I that I wanted art to be a part of my life. I didn’t consider being an art teacher until high school. After going on the Spirit of Bermuda at school, I had the pleasure of working closely with Adam Goodwin. The amount of knowledge that he instilled in me in such a short period of time was incredibly inspiring. Unfortunately, he passed away right after our voyage, but his funeral that allowed me to see the true impact that he left on young people and this is when I started to think about being a teacher.
BNG: What role did art and art making play for you when you were growing up?
SH: Art was my voice and my thoughts. After skipping a year at primary school I faced many challenges, mostly bullying, which brought on mixed emotions growing up. Learning art skills grounded me as it required a deep amount of focus to always try and get it right. Later on, I was able to apply those techniques to create imagery that meant something to me and from there it became my form of self-expression.
BNG: As a practicing artist, you have exhibited across the island. How does this affect your approach to teaching?
SH: After both organising and exhibiting in art shows, I’ve grown to understand all of the work that goes into producing an exhibition. The skills that it brings – self confidence, organization, and public speaking to name a few – are things that I like to help to build in each art student that enters my classroom.
BNG: As an educator, you focus on mindfulness and team building. How does art allow you do this?
SH: I am interested in how I can help to grow the whole child and so I plan projects that asks students to use a piece of themselves. Team building allows for the students to feel a sense of comfort and belonging which leads to them being more open in class. It creates an atmosphere of respect. Mindfulness builds on that feeling by allowing students to begin to understand themselves and their experiences. It creates a pause in their day to reflect and put the focus on them.
BNG: You’ve taught both primary and middle school. In what ways have you seen art benefit children at different stages of their development?
SH: Art brings out a form of excitement in youth. In primary school I noticed that art was a form of emotion to the students, it allowed them to express how they were feeling regardless of whether it was a positive or negative emotion. This allowed me to truly get to know my students in terms of their life experiences. In middle school students show a love for the skill in art as they take pride in what they have been able to accomplish. It brings out amazing self-confidence in students which allows me to challenge them to higher expectations because they are eager to learn!
BNG: This is your first time leading the Youth Arts Council. How have you structured the programme and why?
SH: The BNG Youth Arts Council allows me teach a programme that will develop a range of skills to encourage Bermuda’s next generation of creative talent. I have structured the programme to build various skills that will help each student to grow: self-expression, creativity, leadership, public speaking and self-confidence. Through art students will learn to think and do, combined with understanding who they are or who they want to be. I have created a structure that scaffolds a student’s way of thinking but also challenges them to go outside of their comfort zone.
BNG: What do you hope to leave students with when they graduate from the course?
SH: The hope is that the Youth Arts Council allows students to see art in a different way from the traditional school setting and to learn other skills that focus on growing them into who they wish to be as an artist. I hope that students leave with a new perspective on what art means to them. Their growth in their new understanding of both themselves and art will hopefully encourage them to understand that art is life and that their life can be their art.
Registration for the BNG Youth Arts Council is free. For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.