Arts for Learning Virginia Student Work Showcased at Chrysler Museum of Art

theatre students line up in three rows wearing three different brightly color t-shirts - green, yellow, and blue
June 08, 2023 |

Arts for Learning Virginia just completed the first year of its Intentional Designs of Expression in Artistic Languages (IDEAL) after-school residency program, culminating with a community event at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia.

IDEAL took place in Title 1 schools across three Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, and Norfolk school districts. During the first of this three-year residency program, 54 students explored themes of self-identity, collaboration, and community through movement, music, and visual art.

On Thursday, May 11, young learners performed and showed off their artwork for family, friends, and community leaders at the Chrysler Museum, where their artwork will be on display through June 11.

students and families view student work on display at museum gallery


“To bring students to the museum and show them it’s their place to have a voice is just an amazing opportunity,” said Anna Green, Chief Operations Officer for Arts for Learning Virginia. “It may inspire them to go on and create art or find their voice in movement or music or in other ways.”

The first year of IDEAL residencies was led by Arts for Learning Virginia teaching artists Cindy Aitken, Gary Garlic, and Jennifer Graham at Lindenwood Elementary in Norfolk; Asiko-oluwa Aderin, James Cooper, and Nathan Richardson at Westhaven Elementary in Portsmouth; and Jackie Adonis and Valerie Davis at College Park Elementary in Virginia Beach.

Sometimes we can learn the most about the impact of a program directly from the learners our network serves. Participating students shared their experiences with the IDEAL residency, reflecting impacts in areas of self-worth, community connectedness, and creative expression:



Emma, College Park, 5th grade: “It showed me I could really be anything I want to be.”

Sadé, College Park, 5th grade: “I want to teach others how to do art. It’s very inspiring. It makes you feel like you can do other things that you thought that you couldn’t do in art. And that’s why I love Arts for Learning.”

Deniya, Westhaven, 5th grade: “I learned you can do what you want to do. You just have to keep practicing. Don’t let anybody make you come down, just keep trying and trying… And you might end up being an artist if you keep trying.”

Harmony, Westhaven, 5th grade: “I got a lot more friends in my life. They made us sit at different tables so we could get to know each other, and it really helped a lot. I’m very shy. I got put into a room full of new people I didn’t know, at least most of them. I guess I had to branch out… I feel like Arts for Learning made me into a better person.”



Samantha, Westhaven, 6th grade: “Arts for Learning was important because it helped you connect with who you are and your identity.” (Samantha had noted that she was Filipino on her mother’s side and used to visit cousins in the Philippines prior to Covid. She said she had done research about the Philippines as part IDEAL.)



Sadé, College Park, 5th grade: “I’m more excited when I do art. It makes my heart burst.”

Mark, Westhaven, 6th grade: “I created a phoenix, and it was really inspiring because it shows my personality, like the power of the phoenix. It’s a sock puppet so it’s silly and goofy but on the inside it’s powerful and meaningful. The project changed how I saw myself because I expressed my inner personality.”

Kerrington, College Park, 5th grade: “Before I joined [the IDEAL residency], I wasn’t really artistic because I didn’t think I could do the things I wanted to do. When I joined Arts for Learning, it was really fun because I got to paint, do watercolors, and sculptures…. Anytime I go home, I have paint and canvases in my room, and I just paint nonstop. And my mom tells me to go to bed and I’m like, ‘No, I’ve got to paint.’”

Mary, Westhaven, 5th grade: “I realized that I could express myself in different ways instead of just talking about it. I can express myself through singing or dancing or painting or drawing. Arts for Learning has helped me a lot because I learned I can express myself in different ways.”

Raenah, Westhaven, 5th grade: “I’ve changed the way I express myself going to [the IDEAL residency] because I learned that I don’t have to just speak the way I feel, I can draw it out, dance it out, sing it out, or do it all types of ways. My favorite way of showing my feelings is painting. I can show it if I’m mad, happy, sad, or any other emotion. The painting I did for the Chrysler Museum I basically just put lots of fun and colorful things because I feel like it describes how I am most of the time because I’m mostly happy.”

three students work on their art projects

Learn more about IDEAL and view more photos from the event at

There was no cost to students to participate in the IDEAL residency, thanks to generous sponsors. The Hampton Roads Community Foundation provided the bulk of the project’s funding when it awarded Arts for Learning Virginia the largest grant in the organization’s history to be paid over the course of the three-year residency. Other funders for the first year include Arts Alliance; the arts commissions of NorfolkPortsmouth, and Virginia Beach; Mr. Gary Jensen; National Endowment for the ArtsPRA GroupPortsmouth General Hospital Foundation; Mr. Lawrence Steingold; Tidewater Children’s Foundation; the city of Virginia Beach; Virginia Commission for the Arts; and Walmart.

Photos courtesy of Arts for Learning Virginia.