Serve The World Passionately Through Your Creativity
by Lionel Daniels, Art Enrichment Teacher, Rocketship Rise Academy
“Who is that guy painting on the school wall? It looks amazing! I wish I could do that! I want to be an artist like him when I grow up!”
These were thoughts that raced through my busy fifth grade mind as I watched Stacey Ridgeway paint our school walls to life. I was taught about the Cubism of Picasso, Post-Impressionism of Van Gogh, and Surrealism of Dali but was never exposed to African American artists. Stacy Ridgeway was the first African American artist I had the pleasure of being influenced by. He opened the door to helping me unlock my dreams in the arts. Seeing an African American male artist at a young age had a profound effect over my life – it let me know that I too could become a successful African American artist one day.
That is why I am so proud to the be the art enrichment teacher at Rocketship Rise Academy. Within every school day at all Rocketship schools, students participate in different enrichment classes. Every school offers Physical Education (PE), and other enrichments such as art, coding, music, gardening, dance, theater, and media literacy. Art is especially important to our Rocketeers to give them an outlet for self expression, and teach compassion. On of Rocketship Rise’s enrichment offerings is art, which I teach to all our kids in kindergarten through fourth grades.
In my art classes, I focus on teaching the 7 Elements of Arts, introducing various artists, and developing a sense of creativity. I accomplish this by creating targeted videos that allow me to teach virtually while helping Rocketeers as they navigate through each unit. I also lead our after school Art Club at Rise. This group of 10 Rocketeers eagerly meet every Tuesday to fine-tune their art skills through focused projects. Members are also introduced to other outside art organizations and projects to grow their appreciation for the arts.
I am very fortunate to have an Art Club filled with Rocketeers who are talented, excited to learn, and willing to serve their community. Each year, the Art Club combines our love of art with our love of our Woodland Terrace community on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This year, the Art Club decided to continue working on our mural project from last year. Before we started our work this year, Art Club Rocketeers were prompted to reflect on the importance of the mural for the community and to draw changes they would like to see in the mural to brighten the neighborhood “We want people to feel proud of our community when they see the mural,” said one Rocketeer. “We want the mural to push others to do great things,” said another. “We want to serve like Dr. King,” exclaimed another Rocketeer. With this passion, we collected our thoughts and ideas and crafted a new design to enhance the mural.
With big smiles and great joy, we started the first section of the mural service project the weekend before the national commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Art Club members worked in small groups to complete distinct sections of the mural. They were to focus on working together and paying attention to adding intricate detail. I felt proud watching them implement painting techniques they have learned in class and observing their collaboration with one another.
I am excited to see the Rocketeers’ finished product and am grateful to have witnessed the positive work they have done on behalf of their community. We look forward to completing the mural project by the end of Black History Month so that we can unveil it to the rest of our Rocketeers. Stay tuned on the Rocketship Facebook page for photos of the completed mural!
Mr. Daniels has been the art enrichment teacher at Rocketship Rise since 2016. He graduated from Morehouse College Phi Beta Kappa Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Studio Art in 2011. Mr. Daniels has performed at numerous events in the Atlanta University Center, many schools and churches in metro Atlanta, Alabama and Louisiana, the World Congress Center, several festivals including the National Black Arts Festival (2012-13) and Sweet Auburn Fest (2012-13), and the Power of You Teens in Harlem (2014). He has exhibited work at the Roswell Cultural Art Center, the Atlanta Beltline Project (2013), and was recognized by the state of Georgia Legislature in Resolution 772.
Published on February 28, 2019