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Monday, March 8, 2021

Inspiration Through Art

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Involving children in public art

Linwood Public Charter School recently got a minor makeover in the courtyard when a public art project called The Dreamers made its debut. The project was a collaboration between Linwood Intermediate Principal Starla Ross and S.C.O.R.E., Setting Children on the Road to Excellence. According to Ka’Davien Baylor, the project leader, the mural was an effort to inspire children through the artwork’s messages. Baylor said it’s part of the S.C.O.R.E. Public Art Campaign.

“What it does is reach out to the communities, the children, the students that are facing the downfalls and the pitfalls of COVID-19, which is lessening the creativity, the enrichment activities, within the school. What’s happening, digital arts are being put in place in which the children aren’t able to learn the software in order to do this type of artwork. So, in trying to fill this gap and revitalize communities through public art, we’re also embedding messages of inspiration, hope, love, self-awareness and encouragement.”

Baylor said they have done several other projects around town as well. One on Marshall Street in the 1500 block in collaboration with the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club.

For its Black History Month project, S.C.O.R.E. collaborated with Booker T. Washington High School to bring 27 students together to experience public art. “We worked with them to create a mural that speaks to the history of Booker T. Washington and the importance of post-secondary education, as well as affirmations within the school for the children to read,” Baylor said.

Baylor said bringing students into the project is a vital component of the work. “When the children are a part of the creation of art, it gives them a sense of ownership, and it gives them something to brag about. They get to tell the other children; they become spokespersons for the artwork. That, in turn, turns them into leaders and people who can direct positive perception to the rest of the students. At the end of the day, we really know that most of the judgement of these types of activities come down to the perception of it. If it’s cool to the kids, then the messages can transcend and be transferred to them.”

When asked how he manages to get schoolaged kids interested in art, he said the secret is making it recognizable. “You include aspects that are relative to the things that are happening in their everyday life. At Linwood, we were specific to include symbols like moneybags, or things they would see on video games, pop colors – things that are attractive to them. Tennis shoes that they would wear, like Nikes or Jordans, include those things they will catch their attention, that they’re really into.”

Baylor is a native Shreveporter whose natural artistic talent was nurtured by his mother. His work was featured in the Shreveport Times, and he participated in projects through the Shreveport Regional Art Council, the Norton Art Gallery and the Talented Arts Program through the Caddo Parish Schools.

After a stint in Houston, he returned home to create the public art that he’s come to love. “That’s how I want to give back and provide opportunities for the students where I come from. So, it’s pretty much a full-circle process for me.”

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