The children visiting Loyola Marymount University excitedly crowded around art tables to craft hundreds of “feathers” out of white sheets of paper. Nearby, their college-aged mentors were hard at work hanging the whimsical creations inside LMU’s Thomas P. Kelly, Jr. Student Art Gallery.
The finished piece – a mural of wings designed by guest artist and LMU alumna Amber Cromwell – is a symbol of a successful partnership 10 years in the making. Called ARTsmart, the program has given LMU students the opportunity to develop an art curriculum and teach at the K-8 Westside Global Awareness Magnet School.
“One of the benefits that LMU students bring to the school is not only their expertise, but their energy,” said ARTsmart Director Terry Lenihan, professor of studio arts in the LMU College of Communication and Fine Arts. “There’s a real benefit to LMU, to have our students giving back to the community in a way that’s really positive.”
Westside Global Awareness is a Los Angeles Unified magnet school in Marina del Rey with a focus on science, particularly environment and ecosystems. With roughly 400 students, the school draws children from across Los Angeles, and about 80 percent of families enrolled are economically disadvantaged, state data shows.
“I know the student body as a whole looks forward to coming here, and the teachers do as well,” said Principal Cyril Baird, as his students and teachers visited ARTsmart instructors and Lenihan for an annual celebration on the LMU campus. “Art is something that is sorely lacking. She’s been our connection to that.”
A version of this article originally appeared in LMU News.