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Art Connects

09/16/2019 02:23:20 PM



If you haven't had a chance to see the new exhibit in the David M. Grossman gallery, please make a point to stop by. The exhibit is presented by Olive Tree Arts Network, an organization that brings together Christian, Jewish and Muslim children and through an arts curriculum, gives them a chance to get to know each other. The organization visits schools throughout Chicagoland, including Schechter, CJDS and Bernard Zell. A team of 16 teaching artists lead the students in games, discussion and artmaking designed to teach the concept of empathy. By introducing students who wouldn't otherwise meet to the concept of empathy, OTAN takes the first step in preventing religious discrimination in our society. OTAN is currrently seeking sponsors for the 2019-2020 school year. Contact for more information.

The exhibit is themed Art Connects. "At OTAN, we use art as a unifier. A collaborative project quickly breaks the ice and gets our students talking and learning from each other," said executive director Ilene Siemer.

Comprised of four commissioned pieces, original poetry from OTAN teaching artists and photos from school sessions, the exhibit is meant to foster camaraderie, show the power of art to break barriers and evoke community. 

"As soon as our teaching artists start the program, you can see the kids relax. Their social insecurities vanish and they are able to have a real connection with each other during out time with them," Siemer said.

Students in the program work on visual art, poetry and performance throughout the course of the program. Each visit includes a trip to the host school's holy space where the host students lead their new friends in a tour and answer questions. 

After the program, participants report they have more in common with people of another faith than they thought. They report having more friends of another faith. They report feeling more positive about people of another faith. OTAN believes these results are an important step in building a society where everyone is safe and welcome.

The four commissioned pieces are for sale. Contact for pricing.

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