In partnership with ArtsFairfax, students living in Wesley Housing’s Strawbridge Square Apartments in Alexandria (Fairfax County) are working side by side with artist Edgar Reyes as part of an Artist Residency Program, which imbeds professional artists in Fairfax County communities underserved by the arts.
The program is designed to fill opportunity gaps in arts access with the help of professionals who share their arts discipline and craft with the community. Thanks to ArtsFairfax, at-risk students living in our affordable housing communities are receiving arts instruction that otherwise might not be available to them. Through free interactive arts experiences, students are given a creative outlet, gain skills in the arts, and can engage and collaborate with their peers.
Last month, students at Strawbridge Square completed their first project, which began as a series of discussions about identity and legacy.
Students were asked to reflect on the beauty of their community and what they felt was important to pass on to future generations. The group developed a series of patterns to serve as abstract representations of these discussions. These patterns, coupled with self-portraits, were transformed into collages that celebrate the unique identities, cultures, and goals of each student.
“They all learned more about the power of art to communicate ideas and to unite different viewpoints,” said Edgar Reyes, artist instructor. “In addition to exploring their own cultures and identities, participants also discovered cross-cultural connections. This project helped participants develop a greater appreciation for our differences and that they can be a source of strength and beauty,” he added.
The ArtsFairfax Artist Residency Program is supported in part by Fairfax County, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, Transurban, the Dimick Foundation, and an anonymous donor.