Empowering Students Through Drawing: An outreach program

Shelby County Arts Council Executive Director Bruce Andrews recently reinstated an art program at the Shelby County Juvenile Detention Center that teaches the fundamentals of drawing. (Contributed)

Shelby County Arts Council Executive Director Bruce Andrews recently reinstated an art program at the Shelby County Juvenile Detention Center that teaches the fundamentals of drawing. (Contributed)

By CASSIE MOORE / Guest Columnist

There are many invaluable ways the Shelby County Arts Council (SCAC) promotes the arts in our community, but perhaps one of the most rewarding is the art program recently reinstated by Executive Director Bruce Andrews.

This program is made possible, in part, by a grant from Shelby County Community Services. It is the intent of SCAC and the desire of The Shelby County Juvenile Detention Center to make Art an ongoing program.

At the detention center, Andrews teaches the fundamentals of drawing, lessons designed to give students a “quick breakthrough,”whatever the skill level.

Due to limited resources, he is only able to teach twice per month, and hopes to provide them with the tools necessary to make the most of this creative outlet.

Andrews teaches students concepts of form, value, texture, proportion and perspective.

This involves little still life drawing.

“Rather than lead the students through ‘copy cat’exercises,”he says, “they learn the essence of drawing from the imagination.”

In order to keep clean-up time minimal in their 90-minute class, he confines the tools to dry media like pencil and paper.

“These are incarcerated youth with limited space and resource,”Andrews explains. “I want them to feel they can convey fantastic ideas with only a pencil and a piece of paper. It is empowering in a positive way … particularly in their environment.”
As an artist, Andrews sees untapped potential in all the kids at the detention center, and understands that many just need some positive mentoring.

He states, “I believe every student has creative potential. In the case of incarcerated youth, it may be they have never been encouraged to use that creative potential in a positive sense.”

The goal is for students to leave inspired and with a meaningful understanding of drawing from the imagination.