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Owen Buffington at Calvert Elementary

Teaching artist Owen Buffington engages with students at Calvert Elementary School.

The Lincoln Arts Council (LAC) supports over a dozen Title I school residencies each year through its upstArt education program. At the moment, LAC is in the midst of a project at Calvert Elementary School.

Over the course of three years, the same students will study an expanding view of the world. Last year, as third-graders, the students studied personal identity with artist Christian Scott. This year, they are looking at neighborhood and community with artist Owen Buffington. Next year, as fifth graders, they will be considering their role as global citizens and stewards.

The teaching artist is Owen Buffington, a mixed-media artist whose work explores the intersection of geography and the visual arts – in particular the role drawing plays in shaping how we describe, define and organize everyday spaces. He is currently the Woods Charitable Fund artist-in-residence at the Lux Center for the Arts.

At Calvert, Buffington is guiding art teacher Amy Allerheiligen’s fourth-graders on a visual exploration of their community. He is showing students how to notice shapes in their surroundings – especially in urban elements that are often “invisible” to us, such as dumpsters, fire hydrants, fences and the like. The students are also studying perspective and the geometry of architecture and urban design.

The students will exhibit their work on May 7. At the event, visitors will be able to use the HP Reveal app on their phone or tablet to hear students talk about their mounted artwork. LAC will be recording the students in the coming weeks ahead of the exhibit.

The Calvert residency culminates LAC’s 2018-19 school residencies. LAC is planning for next year, which will see an increased presence from 12 to 18 schools, including partnerships with a couple of YMCA after-school Community Learning Center programs and a parochial school.

Several funders make these residencies possible, including the Pearle Francis Finigan Foundation, and for the Calvert residency specifically, Union Bank and Trust. For more details on upstArt or ways to invest in arts education, contact Robert Goldberg at robert@artscene.org.

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L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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