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  • Writer's picturePress Release

An ‘IDEAL’ Exhibition of Student Work on Display at the Chrysler


Words and Images courtesy of Arts for Learning.


The public is invited to view a unique collection of student artwork exhibited at the Chrysler

Museum of Art from May 9 to June 11, 2023. The visual art pieces were created by upper

elementary students who have participated in a series of arts-integrated afterschool programs this

spring, guided by Arts for Learning’s professional teaching artists.


In March, Arts for Learning (A4L), the Virginia affiliate of Young Audiences, Inc., launched

residencies at three Title 1 elementary schools in Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach,

marking the most ambitious project in the organization’s 68-year history. The project is named

IDEAL, Intentional Designs of Expression in Artistic Languages. In the first year of the three-year

residency, 54 students have explored themes of self-identity, collaboration, and community

through different art forms: dance, music, and visual art.


Meeting twice a week in 90-minute sessions, students were led by Arts for Learning’s professional

teaching artists who are experts in their particular art forms. The program’s highlight comes

Thursday, May 11 when students will perform and show off their artwork for family, friends, and

community leaders. The Chrysler Museum donated space in the Margaret Shepherd Ray Family

and Student Gallery for the art exhibit.

“To bring students to the museum and show them it’s their place to have a voice is just an amazing

opportunity,” said Anna Green, Chief Operations Officer for Arts for Learning. “It may inspire

them to go on and create art or find their voice in movement or music or in other ways.”

Students have been led by teaching artists Cindy Aitken, Gary Garlic, and Jennifer Graham at

Lindenwood Elementary in Norfolk; Asiko-oluwa Aderin and Nathan Richardson at Westhaven

Elementary in Portsmouth; and Jackie Adonis and Valerie Davis at College Park Elementary in

Virginia Beach. No student was charged a fee to participate in the IDEAL program, and they are

being transported by bus at no cost to Thursday’s reception and exhibit.


More information about the IDEAL residency: A4L’s Education and Program team developed

the curriculum, which is tied to various Virginia Standards of Learning, including visual arts,

dance, English, and social-emotional learning. In addition to helping students develop creative and

artistic talents, the IDEAL project is designed to increase students’ self-worth, while improving

their academic performance and decreasing absenteeism and problem behaviors.


“We’re looking to reach the students who are struggling, to give them that hands-on opportunity

to discover their voice through the arts and to broaden their view of community,” Green said.

In addition to the partnership with the Chrysler Museum, Arts for Learning partnered with the

Richmond Ballet, which presented in-school dance performances for residency students as well as

for other students at each school.


The bulk of the project’s funding comes from the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, which

awarded Arts for Learning a Cultural Vitality grant of $97,500—the largest grant in the

organization’s history—to be paid over the course of three years. Other funders for the first year

of the project include Arts Alliance; Mr. Gary Jensen, the arts commissions of Norfolk,

Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach; National Endowment for the Arts; PRA Group; Portsmouth

General Hospital Foundation; Mr. Lawrence Steingold; Tidewater Children’s Foundation; the

city of Virginia Beach; Virginia Commission for the Arts; and Walmart.


Information about Arts for Learning: Young Audiences of Virginia, Inc., doing business as

Arts for Learning, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Norfolk. Now in its 68th year,

Arts for Learning’s mission is to inspire and engage students in and through the arts. A4L’s

professional musicians, dancers, and visual and literary artists use their art forms as teaching tools

to integrate curriculum concepts with the arts and to expose students to a great diversity of cultures

and traditions.

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