Looking in from the Edge: James Hedges Fine and Performing Arts School
February 1–May 25, 2014
James Hedges Fine and Performing Arts School
A public elementary school, Hedges is located on Chicago’s southwest side. Ricardo Santos Hernández and Jequeline Salinas, the talented visual art teachers at Hedges, work tirelessly to broaden their students’ academic horizons. The art faculty uses personal narrative to guide students down the road to educational success.
Back of the Yards lies largely hidden behind old industrial sites near the intersection of 47th Street and Ashland Avenue, far from the business and commercial hubs in the Loop. The neighborhood’s population is 95% Latino and 5% African American. Many area families have Mexican roots and maintain strong ties with America’s neighbor to the south. Members of the community live near the edge of the sometimes bleak urban environment, amidst the social fragments and cultural beauty of the Mexican-American experience. Residents are proud of their neighborhood’s vibrancy in spite of its economic challenges and demands.
My goal as a teacher in the Chicago Public School system is to elevate art to the level of traditional subjects, such as reading, writing, math, science, and history. At Hedges, I am able to infuse these academic areas with creativity by integrating visual art. My approach is to teach my students the foundations of art and art history, incorporating diverse media with the elements of art. I aim to push educational achievements and encourage artistic freedom. I want my students to feel free to express their ideas and personal stories.
- Ricardo Santos Hernández, Art Teacher for Kindergarten, 1st, 4th, 6th, and 8th grades
I believe that students from a young age should be encouraged to develop a rich imagination through the arts. Such exposure provides a wealth of opportunities to cultivate a global perspective and build visual literacy, transforming young people into innovative thinkers. The best way for students to learn is by doing, and I am passionate about providing authentic art- making experiences using a variety of media. I also value the study of art history, which helps to build important skills for the 21st century, those of observation and conceptual thinking.
- Jequeline Salinas, Art Teacher for 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 7th grades
Image: Nathaly Villacencio