Creative Action: Change Through Art in Austin Schools

Creative-Action_Art

Somewhere out there in the whole wide world you may wish there were an organization doing after-school, in-school, and community-based programs that teach the arts, build community and help kids develop socially and emotionally.

You’re in luck.

There are organizations doing important work like that in schools. Here in Austin, one that’s doing great work is Creative Action.

Capital Metro has partnered with AISD’s Lee Lewis Campbell Elementary Media & Performing Arts Institute and Creative Action to ask students to create environmentally focused art to adorn Austin’s first pair of zero-emissions electric buses. We spoke with Christa Berry, Creative Action’s Chief Marketing & Development Officer, to learn what Creative Action does and how the Electric Bus Artwork Contest came to be.

What is the role of Creative Action in the Austin Community?

Every Creative Action program uses arts learning to help young people become creative artists, critical thinkers, courageous allies and confident leaders so they may contribute to and live in a more equitable world.

Creative Action is the largest arts education organization in Central Texas, leading the way for the innovative application of the arts to support positive youth development.

We deliver more than 800 weekly programming hours in six urban, suburban and rural area school districts, reaching more than 20,000 youth annually and the adults who care for them.

Since our founding in 1997, we have reached 200,000+ youth and adults; delivered 250,000+ hours of arts enrichment programming; employed 600+ teens to produce original art; held 1,000+ performances; and employed 800+ local artists.

How did this partnership between you and CapMetro come about?

CapMetro is a long-time supporter of Creative Action and has been particularly supportive of Color Squad, our visual arts teen program.

Each year we choose a different social justice issue or theme and launch a youth-driven, arts-based collective impact project as part of our mission to help young people become courageous allies who stand up for equity and use their creative voice to make a difference in the community.

This year, our efforts will focus on climate change and environmental justice, inspiring students and community members to DREAM GREEN by practicing sustainability at school and at home and advocating for environmental justice.

CapMetro’s zero-emissions electric buses came about in parallel with our DREAM GREEN impact project, so we saw it as the perfect alignment to expand our existing partnership.

Can you tell us about the opportunity you saw to merge student art with the launch of Capital Metro’s first pair of zero-emissions electric buses?

We saw the opportunity to help launch CapMetro’s zero-emissions electric buses as a way to merge arts-based learning with your vision for a sustainable future.

Students at our Spark School, Lee Lewis Campbell Elementary Media & Performing Arts Institute, will use their artistic skills to design bus wraps for the new buses while learning about environmental sustainability.

This collaboration illustrates what can come from an innovative application of creative expression.

Students involved will further develop their 21st century skills and social and emotional competencies, critical skills for developing personally and making positive contributions to their communities.

What matters most when working with children to create art?

What matters most is the sense of freedom and possibility that’s sparked through art-making.

Watching each child create, you see them expressing something unique about themselves, their personality, their thinking, their culture and their place in the world.

While they are working, experimenting, revising and crafting, children are free to make hundreds of choices about innumerable details, using their senses, feelings and ideas to create a work that is entirely new, vibrant and vital.

The nature of art-making and collaboration reminds us that we are all learners regardless of age, and that the most exciting discoveries are when we learn more about ourselves and our community.

If you had one wish for the Austin Community – what would it be?  

For us, the arts provide young people with a dynamic pathway for developing the academic, social and emotional skills for success.

As participants express themselves and build critical 21st century skills through hands-on creative projects, they also connect with their peers, their local communities and the global community beyond Austin.

Our one wish would be that all youth in the Austin community have equal access to arts education.

The new Capital Metro bus electric fleet launches this month.

Learn more about Creative Action!

5 Ways our New Electric Buses Make for a Positive Future

Electric BusCapital Metro is working with Austin Energy to introduce new all-electric buses to the city early next year. Students at Campbell Elementary are helping to design the look of the buses as a way for us to celebrate the future of Austin.

Austin Energy is our partner in assuring these buses will run on reliable, cost-effective, sustainable, clean energy. Austin Energy, like CapMetro, is committed to helping Central Texas become a cleaner, healthier place by powering our buses with zero-emission, renewable energy sources.

Here are just a few positive things electric buses will do for our growing city.

  1. Zero emissions!

Electric buses produce zero emissions. No harmful smog forming exhaust, no air pollution, no tailpipes. Fewer emissions keep our skies clear, our water clean, the earth green and the critters safe. We share this planet with plants and animals, and we breathe and drink the same air and water. Doing our part means embracing new technology that can help our local city and our overall planet.

  1. Electric buses are cleaner from beginning to end.

Clean has a nice ring to it. Not only do the new buses produce no emissions once they’re on our roads. But, because they’re powered by renewable Austin Energy Green Choice electricity (which comes from the sun and the wind, not fossil fuels), they avoid damaging the environment at the source too. So you can enjoy the breeze and know that it’s also helping to make smarter energy and transportation a reality.

  1. Electric buses are quieter.

Whether you’re riding in an electric bus or outside near them, you don’t hear the motor running, which reduces noise pollution. You can hear the air conditioner and other mechanical noises, but they are significantly quieter inside and out for people and animals.

  1. Electric buses emit less heat.

Less heat can be a good thing, especially in the middle of July.  Standing next to an electric bus at a bus stop will be cooler and more comfortable.

  1. Electric buses produce less waste.

Using less oil, fluids and coolants means less waste product to dispose of. This not only makes maintenance easier, it also means there are fewer chances to spill and pollute local waterways.

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The new CapMetro bus fleet launches in January. It will be backed up by 100% Texas wind power, courtesy of Austin Energy.

“Every Child Can Create”

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Campbell Elementery’s Kevin Abeyta

Capital Metro is working with Creative Action and Austin ISD to invite students to create designs to decorate the new electric buses that are coming in January.

Kevin Abeyta is the art specialist at Campbell Elementary, where he works to inspire students to express themselves through creative arts. Selected artwork from students in Mr. Abeyta’s classes will be applied as full-bus wraps on the first two electric buses in CapMetro’s fleet.

We asked Mr. Abeyta about the contest and how he teaches his art classes.

What do you do at Campbell Elementary?

The short answer is I encourage each student who walks into the art studio to express themselves in a healthy, positive way through art.

What do you aim to achieve for your students?

​My goal is to foster a safe, accepting and welcoming environment that allows each and every student who crosses the door into the art studio the freedom to express who they are no matter the skill level. Process over product. Every child can create art if they are given the encouragement and freedom to do so.

For this project, Mr. Abeyta is teaching students about various artists’ techniques as inspiration for the electric bus artwork contest. We asked him to tell us why their stories and work are important for students to know.

Can you tell us about some of the artists you’re teaching them about and why you chose them?

​My goal is to honor the culture of children who come into the art studio. We’re learning about artists of color and differing genders. Two in particular we’re focusing on are Romare Bearden and Kehinde Wiley.

Romare Bearden

Romare Bearden’s work dealt with both the urban and rural viewpoints of African Americans. His style is a perfect fit for a project highlighting these aspects of Austin.

We are using Romare’s collage technique to create various scenes and places around Austin. Each student’s personal vision of how they view places around the city can be showcased, and this technique provides a more hands-on style and unified approach to the final artwork.

Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley is a contemporary artist who creates vibrant, striking portraits of people of color. He is well known for painting the presidential portrait of Barack Obama. His powerful style and depiction of subjects is the focus for our fifth graders, who are creating their own portraits.

My hope is that in seeing these artists and their work, students will be inspired to go forward and explore art and the world around them on their own. The more artists of color are celebrated and taught, the more children of color can see the beauty and power that they possess inside them.

The new Capital Metro bus fleet launches in January. It will be backed up by 100%-Texas wind power, courtesy of Austin Energy.

The future belongs to our children, and we are super excited to see what they come up with to help us celebrate.

 

12th & Chicon Exhibit Unveiling a Success

12th & Chicon Unveiling
Jeff Travillion & Randy Clarke unveil the bus stop exhibit at 12th & Chicon Streets.

On May 12, Capital Metro and our partners hosted more than 50 members of the community to unveil our new historical art exhibit decorating the bus stop at 12th and Chicon Streets. The unveiling was held as a part of the East 12th Street Merchants Association’s 12th on 12th series.

President/CEO Randy Clarke joined Jeff Travillion, a Cap Metro board member and Travis County Commissioner, at the event, along with City Manager Spencer Cronk, city council member Ora Houston and representatives from Huston-Tillotson, APD, the city of Austin and the East 12th Street Merchants Association. Native East Austinite and community leader Creola Burns was the M.C. for the event and has been integral to the exhibit’s revitalization.

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Travillion and Creola Burns view the plaque.

The exhibit tells the story of the neighborhood and honors the history of African-Americans in East Austin. For the past 18 months, Cap Metro has worked with several community partners to revamp the bus stop on the southeast corner of 12th & Chicon, and the exhibit celebrates the East Austin neighborhood’s “Heritage, Pride, Prosperity.”

Cap Metro’s website tells a little bit more of the story and showcases some fantastic photographs from the collections of neighborhood families and our partners like the Austin History Center and Huston-Tillotson University.

We’d love to hear your own personal story of East Austin and the 12th & Chicon neighborhood. Please leave comments below this post, which we hope will serve as a place to share memories.

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Capital Metro to Unveil Bus Stop Plaque at 12th & Chicon

12th & Chicon

For the past 18 months, Cap Metro has worked with several community partners to revamp the bus stop on the southeast corner of 12th & Chicon. And in less than another month, you’ll be able to check out what all that work has produced when we unveil the new historical plaques that celebrate the East Austin neighborhood’s  “Heritage, Pride, Prosperity.”

When & Where

  • Saturday, May 12 at 11:30 a.m.
  • Southeast corner of 12th & Chicon

Cap Metro and the East 12th Street Merchants Association would like to invite you to Return & Discover East 12th Street as part of the Merchants Association’s monthly ‘12th on 12th’ series.

Come for the unveiling, stay for the food, fun and community!