In the fall of 2006, a year after the devastation of hurricane Katrina and the aftermath of the floods, Amelie Prescott proposed an art program to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School for Science and Technology for all grades, pre-K through 8th. The program's core mission was to expose students to different art forms, develop skills in these forms, and let art offer students an opportunity to process their recent traumatic experiences. The work continues into the 2010-2011 academic year as the school is still the only school to reopen its renovated home in the Lower 9th Ward.
The art program is designed to explore the children's relationship to themselves, their families and communities, and the science of the natural world. The students and their art are at the center of the program. The art classes are project based, and relate the academic standards. Storytelling, poetry, drawing, painting, collage, 3 dimensional installations and film making give students a way to relate their personal stories. Gardening, mapping and observation bring relationship with the natural world and its sciences. This program creates an
opportunity to address and heal the trauma these children experienced during Katrina. The process of trauma healing generates the energy as well as the desire to express and celebrate this healing. Mos Chukma allows the students to give form and expression to this celebration.
Communication with oneself Making art showing and telling their interior landscapes allows the students to build writing, reading and literacy skills as well as to reflect and reframe their personal feelings.
Being in the science of life Geometry, science, and technology are embedded in the art curriculum. Moving from visualization to drawings to scaled models to life-sized geometric forms brings a sense of satisfaction and completion. Filmmaking allows the opportunity to do transformative story telling work for the students and their community.
Being in the body Lack of attention and acute distraction can be a sign of stress and trauma. Every art class begins with the art of movement, song, and rhythmic exercises that aid in grounding and focusing students' attention. Body movement, dance and play-acting are also used to encourage the expression of stories and emotions.
Being in the mind Visualization is a method of leading the imaginations of children through a story. In this case, it's the child's story. By taking visualizing exercises and applying them to paper, pen, and movement, students can start to select, specify, and prioritize the elements of their story that are most important.
Body-mind balance Self-confidence and self-esteem are enhanced with class presentations and work with photo and film where students learn to present themselves and their stories, to see themselves and be seen.