This year, CMA celebrates its 30 year anniversary! Instead of simply reflecting on our past, we wanted to initiate a project that helped shape our future alongside the families we work with — both in NYC and around the world. This was the inspiration for CIVICKIDS, a project encouraging child-led civic engagement that started in September 2018 and will wrap up at the end of August 2019. CMA Teaching Artists organized art projects inspired by 12 different themes of civic engagement. What qualities does a civically engaged kid have? Kindness, Leadership, and Reflection are just a few! To ensure that CIVICKIDS reached the widest possible audience, CMA joined forces with over 50 partners worldwide to facilitate these monthly art projects and learn how children express their thoughts on civic engagement.
As CIVICKIDS comes to an end, we are reflecting on what the project meant to us and our partners. Find 6 fun facts about CIVICKIDS below!
1. The idea for CIVICKIDS was inspired by our collection of children’s art — one of the largest in the world! See it here. Now embracing the digital age, CMA put out a second call for children to make art worldwide through CIVICKIDS, and began a dialogue by sharing their art online using the hashtag #cmacivickids. Each month, CMA issued a digital challenge to create a project based on themes of civic engagement.
2. The digital call to action was only a small piece of CIVICKIDS. We also wanted to help facilitate art-making projects here in New York City! We accomplished this challenge by curating a three-part exhibition series in our main gallery and creating on-site programming inspired by each monthly theme. We also organized pop-up workshops, called Outposts, across all five boroughs lead by CMA Teaching Artists.
3. As we watched children make artwork and share their projects worldwide, we learned that facilitation is key. As one grown-up said, “Otherwise, they’re just projects.” How does making an Unusual Upcycled Planter turn into a lesson surrounding Environmentalism? “When we throw recycling in the trash, it hurts the Earth,” remarked an astute budding artist at Brooklyn Public Library’s Sunset Park branch. How can we make art and make a difference?
4. CMA hosted three major exhibitions throughout CIVICKIDS: Art & Activism: Drawing the Line, A Way With Words: The Power & Art of the Book, and E.V. Day: Breaking the Glass Ceiling. The first exhibition in this series, Art & Activism: Drawing the Line, gave us the tools and strategies for making social change. Next, A Way with Words: The Power and Art of the Book showed us how to develop our stories and form our own narratives. Lastly, E.V. Day: Breaking the Glass Ceiling inspires us to have the strength and platform to break our own glass ceiling and let our voices be heard.
5. We led nearly 60 CIVICKIDS Outposts in 40 locations across all five boroughs of Manhattan! Highlights include Upcycled Viewfinders at IncludeNYC’s Outdoors for Autism in the Bronx, World Refugee Day hosted by Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in Park Slope and workshops at the Hudson Guild Children’s Center in Chelsea.
6. Last October, we hosted a poster-making workshop in preparation for the Young and Mighty March with PARADE in Sunnyside, Queens. During the march, Elmo and Big Bird made a surprise appearance!