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Botanic Garden, iCAN Collaborate on Pilot Art Project at Adams Elementary

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and Incredible Children’s Art Network (iCAN) are pleased to announce their collaboration on a pilot art project at Adams Elementary School.

The iCAN teaching staff will be incorporating native plants into the fall 2013 visual arts curriculum for all 78 students in the second grade, culminating in a public art exhibit at the garden’s Blaksley Library in December.

The Incredible Children’s Art Network is local a nonprofit organization with in-school visual arts and after-school music programming provided to 3,200 children a year. iCAN’s programs focus on bringing high-quality arts instruction to those children least likely to receive it.

The iCAN Visual Arts Program is present at six Title I schools in the Santa Barbara Unified School District, with a professional art teacher and assistant at each campus. The curriculum is based in California Visual Arts Standards and is revised annually to ensure the most advanced and innovative learning methods are implemented in the classroom.

“This collaboration is exactly the model of multidisciplinary learning that we strive to provide for our students. Both iCAN and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden are deeply invested in quality education and we are looking forward to expanding this project into the future, to reach students across all five of our other elementary school campuses,” iCAN Executive Director Jeffry Walker said.

On Sept. 23, Adams’ second-graders and their teachers, along with parent volunteers, attended a field trip to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, homemade sketchbooks and pencils in-hand. As the class toured the garden, they took notes, penciled drawings and colored things they saw firsthand. They then returned to the iCAN Art Studio at Adams to create unique works of art, drawing from the inspiration of the field trip.

The lesson was led by iCAN teaching artist Magda Barnes and art assistant Katie Acheson. Each student will produce a native plant-inspired art piece that will then be curated as part of special exhibit for the Garden on view for the community Dec. 7 through Jan. 31.

"Our curriculum emphasizes the diversity of arts learning to encourage our students to think creatively about the world around them, while inspiring them to be life-long learners,” Magda Barnes said. “This field trip and art project are wonderful opportunities for students to view the natural elements they encounter each day through the lens of artistic reflection, recognizing that art can be anything; that art is … everywhere."

From the garden’s standpoint, this collaboration provides a unique chance to inform the community about the beauty and importance of California’s native plants, through the interpretation and art of the participating children and their families, using a fun, innovative and non-traditional avenue to spread the message.

“This is precisely the type of experiential education we hope to offer for students who visit the garden,” said Dr. Steve Windhager, executive director of SBBG. “We completely anticipate this collaboration with iCAN will continue to grow, and that our local elementary school students can not only learn about the importance of California natives, but also share the beauty of these plants with the community — as interpreted through the art created by the children.”

The semester-long project will culminate with a grand-opening reception for the Adams families and the community at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s Blaksley Library. The cost is free with paid garden admission, and no advance registration is required.

— Joni Kelly is the communications manager for the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

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