Two months ago, we delivered art supplies to an elementary school partnering with IPaintMyMind. Dropping off paint, sketchbooks, brushes, and more, we met with Stephany Jimenez, the energetic young art teacher at Seward Elementary who participated in our Shared Walls Program in 20/21 despite the pandemic, and added so much to the mix!
She showed us around the school, pointing out murals, student art, and possible spots for their IPMM Shared Walls art gallery to hang. Everything seemed hopeful. Students were preparing for summer break, excited to relax after a chaotic pandemic year.
Just a couple of weeks after our visit, Stephany let us know that one of her students was shot and killed just outside of the school building. It was a random, senseless act of violence, and it took the life of a young child. It was the worst news a school community can receive.
Unspeakable tragedies like these remind us that as much as we believe in the power of art to influence and affect all aspects of life in positive ways, the reality is that there are structural problems in our city that make life in some of our neighborhoods needlessly precarious.
This is about more than CPS or the arts, it’s about how we fund public schools and how we invest in our communities.
CPS’ issues are systemic and structural. Ultimately, they are part and parcel of the same problems that occur in all areas of Chicago’s government. IPMM is just part of a constellation of nonprofits that are trying to fill gaps and provide services that the city government should be providing. We’re not the entire solution by any means, and we don’t pretend to be, especially in the face of tragedies like this one.
All we can do as an organization is continue to support our teachers and schools, and we’re happy that the art supplies we dropped off were put to good use, remembering the student who was tragically lost and using art as an outlet for processing emotions and releasing tension through creativity.
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