Art needed: Sick of public school art cuts? Get your kid outta there

Education without art is like a sky without sunshine, a car without wheels, a vampire without fangs…

You get the idea. You may be able to survive, but you’ll surely be miserable.

Art makes the world go round/Ryn Gargulinski

Art makes the world go round/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Yet with all the public school funding woes, art programs are usually the first to go.

Sure, some steps are being taken. Organizations like Opening Minds through the Arts Foundation (OMA), mentioned by Artistic Tucson blogger Charles Spillar, works to keep all forms of art in the schools and use it to enhance learning in other areas.

But are programs like that enough?

You can always buy a kazoo and a can of paste to provide your own art lessons for your kids. Or you can get your kids the heck out of there.

Independent schools may be an option. Read more about the newly formed Tucson Association of Independent Schools (TAIS) in a news release that mentions “educating the whole child,” “vibrant art programs” and, perhaps most importantly, “financial aid.”

Representatives from each school will be on hand at this weekend’s Tucson Festival of Books on the University of Arizona campus.

Art needs to be fostered and encouraged at an early age. Education must include art. Kids can’t be well-rounded when all they get are spelling tests where they are not even required to spell the words properly and a strange new way to do math.

Art also provides kids with a healthy outlet for pent up energy. They can release their violence, disruption and angst on a canvas instead of on the kid with the pop bottle lens glasses. Artistic expression should not be limited to graffiti and weird patterns created on the wall with spit wads.

Artistic expression is a necessity/Ryn Gargulinski

Artistic expression is a necessity/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Aside from one of my early teachers that told my mom, “Your kid will never be a writer,” some of my fondest school moments involve art:

* Collection of illustrated poems I created way back in elementary school – and still have today. Even then my drawings and poetry were warped. But they were also wholly encouraged.

* The collage of a bright pink monster I made using ripped up strips of construction paper. Think it had polka dots and a deep purple background. I was in love.

* My Garfield the cat piñata – OK, that one was more like a gigantic nightmare because I made it way too big and then got sick of sticking on little pieces of tissue paper with a pencil and cried until mom helped me.

* The portrait of Loni Anderson I sketched on my first round using charcoal. That one sticks in my head because the shop teacher, whom we’ll call Mr. R, was filling in for the art teacher and Mr. R. helped me sketch it so the portrait ended up with massive cleavage that shocked the heck out of my parents.

See how fun art can be?

Including art in education may not be the answer to all of society’s woes – but it sure would be dandy if it were.


Ceramic spaghetti and meatball project/submitted by AZMouse

Ceramic spaghetti and meatball project/submitted by AZMouse


What do you think?

Is art essential to education?

Would you consider an independent school for your children?

What are your fondest early art memories?

Was art encouraged or ignored in your own education?

Do you reckon yourself an artist?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
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46 Responses to Art needed: Sick of public school art cuts? Get your kid outta there

  1. TH says:

    Yes, independent schools are the answer if you value the arts. My children attend one and they have art and music every day, including specialist teachers and dance and choir and instrument lessons.

    • Rynski says:

      that is gorgeous, TH, wonderful to hear it.
      all forms of art have helped me immensely in life and am sure it can do the same for others. thanks for input!
      p.s. i hope none of your children picked the tuba as an instrument – my cousin did and it nearly deafened my aunt – haha.

  2. ericheithaus says:

    Loni Anderson is a work of art.  Art rules!

  3. radmax says:

    Mornin’ Rynski! Art is absolutely essential, as part of a kid’s curriculum.
    It adds color to the humdrum three R’s of schoolwork. How else could you develop your skills if you have an aptitude towards the arts? Or even find out?
    PS- I too created an illustrated book with a story in grade school!
    My teacher discussed the possibility of counseling for me with my parents for some reason soon after… 😉 Apparently grade school was not the forum for graphic scenes depicting a rebel victory over the Romans( I had just seen”‘Spartacus”) complete with blood, severed limbs and headless torsos’. Some people are just so sensitive… 😉

    • Rynski says:

      mornin’ radmax!
      oh, it’s so delightful to hear that people see the need for art – and that you, too, had an illustrated book of your writing!
      toooo funny on the counseling discussion. i left out the part in my own art development where some illustrations were taken to the front office…hahahah.
      you are correct – seems graphic war scenes (like yours) or torture chamber images (like mine) don’t go over too well in those early years of schooling….hahahha.
      too bad i still don’t have the torture chamber works – we could set up a gallery that also featured your severed limb and headless torso victory pieces.

      • radmax says:

        Haha! Rynski and radmax’s little shop of horrors! 🙂
        Alas, I discovered early on that I have absolutely no talent for art. 😦 I do love it though, most forms anyway.
        All things have a way of evening out though, I found my proficiency in mathematical comprehension and a love for classic literature.

      • Rynski says:

        hahahahhaha! LOVE the little shop of horrors idea!
        art appreciation is also a major factor in a well-rounded life.
        you’re also probably expressing artistic nature in other ways. for instance, one of my friends, who said he was not an artist at all, was an awesome carpenter. i told him FOR SURE that counted.
        everyone has a form of artistic talent. also think everyone is a poet!

  4. azmouse says:

    Art was always a welcome energy burner as a kid. I made a book also…still have it! I used wallpaper for the decorative cover. The book is called, “If I Were A Hamburger”.

    Over the years when my kids had artistic projects, I always got way to involved. One of them had to make a solar system…fun! Lots of paint and different size styrofoam balls. We went a little over the top as it ended up covering almost the whole ceiling of the classroom with stringed planets, moons, etc. Then there was the big viking ship with massive oars we made out of toothpicks, and I’ll never forget the clay blue tongued skink me and my daughter made for one of her art projects. Oh, and the ceramic plate of spaghetti and meatballs…I should send a pic of that one to you Ryn.

    Art and great memories go hand in hand….

    • Rynski says:

      oh, i LOVE the hamburger book!!
      i am going to write a poem with that title….how cool.
      a blue tongued skink, for some reason, is wholly enthralling to me – hahah. all of those projects sound cool – except i know i would not like working with toothpicks on a viking ship. man, that one must have taken forever with LOTS of patience. i couldn’t even finish big pinata without tears – haha.
      yes! send pic of ceramic spaghetti and meatballs – it sounds awesome!!
      i can’t think of any crappy memories that go with art – sure, i’ve made some crappy art, but that doesn’t mean making it wasn’t a joy.
      art provides a spiritual connection – a true way to live in the moment.

    • Rynski says:

      got the ceramic spaghetti and meatball photo – loved it so much i added to post (see above)!
      thanks, azmouse!

  5. Rynski says:

    sigh – when i added spaghetti and meatball photo, the poll erased the results. please vote again if your response was erased. thanks!

  6. leftfield says:

    Yes, I agree that art education is essential.  Even though my work and my education beyond secondary school was scientific in direction, I still find my own artistic outlet as a central part of who I am.  The earliest caveman (think Joe Arpaio) figured out how to create pigments and express himself/herself on the walls of the cave.  It is just a part of being human. 

    Unfortunately, art that is not functional as a means to generate profit is relegated to the tangential in a capitalistic society.  
    The realm of freedom actually only begins where labour which is determined by necessity and mundane considerations ceases.” (Marx)

    • Rynski says:

      that’s a very scary quote. unusually scary because i agree! hahhaah.
      glad you enjoy an artistic outlet even with scientific background. that’s is awesome you’ve kept art alive in your own life.
      i’ve had non artistic jobs and they made me sooooooooo miserable. i am lucky i get to use creativity daily. if i don’t create daily, i die (or at least that’s my theory…i don’t want to test it – haha).

      • leftfield says:

        Don’t be scared.  Socialism is not just about who controls the means of production and how we distribute goods.  It is about the whole realm of social relations.  Marx wrote a great deal about the alienation of the individual and Radmax’s good friend Leon Trotsky had a great deal to say about art; as did Che. 

      • radmax says:

        I read the quote to mean there is no time for frivolous things like art, until the needs of all are satisfied. As in never. 🙂
        If I’m not mistaken, Che was quite a gifted artist. Leon, well, he’s the ultimate ‘bomb throwin’ Trotskyite’. I’m a big fan.
        Seems they shared the talent for being in the way….

      • leftfield says:

        “The realm of freedom actually only begins where labour which is determined by necessity and mundane considerations ceases.” (Marx)

        What Marx is saying here is that there is no real human freedom under conditions of wage slavery.  It ties into the concept of people being alienated from their work, from society and from themselves.  So, my reason for choosing this quote has to do with art that is non-commodified, such as in schooling, being deemed trivial and non-essential.  This is an example of another loss of freedom to keep the machine well-fed.  

      • Rynski says:

        ok. i shan’t be fearful. i’m all for kicking away labor that fulfills only the necessary and mundane! (but then we’d have no washing machine repair people…)

  7. Ronnie says:

    Thanks for publically talking about the arts and its importance in an elementary education. I work at the Tucson Hebrew Academy, one of the independent schools that is a member of the Tucson Association of Independent Schools. There is no way that art, music and drama could be removed from our curriculum because it plays an essential role in our program every day. For a very nice treat, come to the Academy’s 5th annual art Show at the school, 3888 E. River Rd on March 17th from 6-7:30 to see what our students are creating. Each student from grades kindergarten to 8th grade will have 2 pieces of Artwork on display. You will be amazed at these incredible works of art including ceramics, pottery, paintings, wire sculptures, metallic assemblages, digital art, pen and ink, drawings, jewelry, african drums, etc. Just come and take a stroll through the school’s courtyard and revel in the talent of kids! Refreshments will be served.

    • Rynski says:

      hi ronnie –
      thanks for input – and invite!
      so refreshing to know arts aren’t going anywhere in your school and others involved with TAIS.
      your march 17 event surely sounds like a lot of talent will be on display. bet some of the works even come close to the amazing ceramic spaghetti and meatballs az mouse sent (pictured above) – haha.
      beautiful to hear ALL arts are encouraged and fostered! hooray!

  8. Andrew Ulanowski says:

    Hiya Ryn, Great topic!
    Love the basketti with meatbulbs Azmouse!
    Art allows transformation. My daughter’s schools have provided art classes, sometimes only part of the year. We do our own art at home. Collages, balentimes, and etc. I teach Andrea guitar and we learn new songs together. I attend concerts and museums, movies and festivals in my local area and I bring my daughter to the ones we can both be at . . .
    here is one of my collages  . . .

    • Rynski says:

      hi andrew!
      what an AWESOME collage! your daughter is very lucky, both to have art in school and even moreso to have a dad that encourages and fosters art when not in school.
      yes, art allows transformation – celebration – growth – and also works as a great catharsis. stay creative…and keep up the artistic enthusiasm.

      • Andrew Ulanowski says:

        thank you Ryn – i have a BIG stack of collages – i did them over a couple of years – the ones I have published on spacebook are some of my favorites.i love sharing art with my daughter because it’s obvious how important it is to her.
        doing poetry gigs with you has been a great part of my artistic endeavor in the recent past – i have written a total of 52 pieces since we started our weekly poetry duet – one of the pieces is an original short fairy tale. Since October, I have had about 8,100 reads on my published poetry and creative writing projects with excellent comments and a sort of following. It’s quite fun!

      • Rynski says:

        holy mackerel on your 52 poems – and 8,100 reads in such a short time!! awesome, mr. creativity!! i, too, enjoy the poetry duets and collages have also been one of my favorite ways of making art.
        so cool you are able to share your creativity with so many…and also cool on your following.

    • leftfield says:

      Nice collages, Andrew.  I especially like the one in which the viewer is about to get hit with the spoon-launched pea.

  9. Nanette says:

    This is exactly what the state legislature is hoping for – to decimate the public schools and drive students to private schools.  They cut funding, make public schools cut their budgets down to the bone, and then pat themselves on the back when parents take their children to private schools as a response to the budget cuts.

    • Rynski says:

      those tricksters!
      reminds me of companies who want to get rid of an employee but, instead of firing the person, simply make work conditions intolerable enough for the person to quit.
      thanks for input, nanette.

  10. Randal Oulton says:

    “Kids can’t be well-rounded when all they get are spelling tests where they are not even required to spell the words properly and a strange new way to do math.”
    That sentence hurt my head.

  11. radmax says:

    Lefty, I been tryin’ to respond to your Marx quote comment on Rynski’s art blog from yesterday. Seems like some form of commie censorship is blocking it. 🙂
    Let’s give it a shot here.(sorry Rynski) 🙂
    Ah, context; gives it a whole ‘nother spin. Thanks for the interpretation Lefty.
    My take on your theoretical bomb throwin’ friends’ quote was that there could be no freedom-until the needs of ‘the struggle’ came to fruition. That does sound more like V.I. than Uncle Karl though…
    Guess I’d make a terrible Marxist. 😉
    PS-didn’t one of your comrades say the the struggle was never ending? Even after total victory was achieved? I believe they were worried that without constant pograms and ‘five year plans,’ the folks might just get a little too much time to think for themselves and begin thinking about counterrevolution. Hard to do when you are worried about where your next bowl of borscht, rice or frijoles is gonna come from.

    • leftfield says:

      Many people have said things to that effect.  It is also central to dialectical materialism that everything is constantly in motion, so, yes, the revolution would be considered to be also constantly moving forward and backward over time. 

      And now it’s time for all good commies to go out and get some work done for the common good.

      Have a good day, companeros.

  12. Research has shown that an art-integrated curriculum can improve students’ retention of concepts (“a picture is worth a thousand words”), decrease classroom discipline problems, and improve the instruction of visual learners, kinesthetic learners, and English language learners.  See the research for yourself:

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