May 9, 2020 - World

Art students get creative with found materials

Watercolor of a gorilla done with coffee grounds and chili powder.
This watercolor was created with coffee grounds and chili powder. Painting: Sofia Rodriguez, 16, courtesy of Cristina Correa

Students on both sides of the border that attend the IDEA San Juan College Prep school in Texas are completing art assignments remotely using materials found at home.

Why it matters: Teachers around the country are struggling to provide their students with continuity — not just in academics, but also in designating time and resources for self-expression — and art teacher Cristina Correa found resourceful solutions.

What's happening: When the school dismissed students for extended leave due to the coronavirus, many weren't able to come by the art department for supplies, even students working on AP portfolio submissions.

  • Correa designed a series of prompts that encouraged students to improvise art supplies from common materials and objects they could find at home.
  • "The idea for using Hot Cheetos was based off of a running joke. The kids would sneak in Hot Cheetos and get fingerprints on their work," Correa says.

Context: Correa, who has taught art at IDEA San Juan for more than ten years, tells Axios some students commute from Mexico, and that as a student body, "we are 96% economically disadvantaged. Some of our students come from far below the poverty line."

The bottom line: "Having a creative outlet, having that kind of escape is important for kids," says Correa, who noted that many of her students work to help support their families, and may be facing additional financial pressure during the pandemic.

  • "This gives students a different way to problem solve, to share themselves, and to find something they’re really good at."

All images courtesy of Cristina Correa:

Image of found artwork.
Left: Anette Rodriguez, 17. Right: Vanessa Cardenas, 17
Image of found artwork.
Left: Ihtziri Salas, 17. Right: Andrea Arroyo, 17
Image of found artwork.
Left: Anette Rodriguez, 17. Right: Samira Marquez, 16.
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