In the TCU Art Education program’s therapeutic arts class, students develop the skills to teach and share the universal language of art in schools, museums and community organizations.
Associate Professor Amanda Allison has collaborated with the Down Syndrome Partnership of North Texas (DSPNT) for the last two years to provide leadership opportunities and professionalskills to adults with Down Syndrome, also referred to as self-advocates. Allison hopes this unique partnership will provide her students with the experience to initiate community change and become leaders in the fine arts.
“As we create art, our capacity to communicate increases, and we experience competency and confidence,” said Allison.
This semester, students designed and taught four classes to provide self-advocates with multiple avenues to investigate and communicate their professional abilities to a future employer. Allison worked closely with DSPNT Program Coordinator Ashely Pechacek to ensure the curriculum advanced the organization’s mission and goals.
“Field experiences breathe life into my practice and research,” said Allison. “Each time we go into the field, I remember why I chose art education as my professional path.”
Through an informal meet and greet event, students and the self-advocates developed comprehensive art education lessons that included art making, art history, aesthetics and art criticism.
“We view our time with the self-advocates as an art collaboration rather than us teaching an art lesson to them,” Allison said. “My students work alongside the self-advocates and both groups discuss their artistic choices and give one another feedback.”
Therapeutic arts students developed a compressive art curriculum that included:
Hexame’: a sculptural resume of drawings and collaged images on a hexagon to showcasecurrent interests and talents to an employer.
- Larger than Life LinkedIn: a LinkedIn profile with alternative approaches to self-portraits on a 22-inch by 28-inch profile badge.
- Digital Timeline: a PDF timeline showcasing career development from high school to the present.
“As my students assess what they learn, their practice becomes authentic,” said Allison. “They often remark that when they work in the community, the course content comes alive.”