PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) – The Pike County Extension Fine Arts and the University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts brought Rae Goodwin, a professor and artist, to Pike Central High School to host workshops on Friday.
Goodwin’s interactive art project, called “Grandparents as Superheroes,” is meant to help children see the hidden “superpowers” their grandparents have. It is an expansion of Goodwin’s long-term social practice project, “Grandmothers as Super Heroes,” which has brought art and parades to Europe and states across the U.S.
“It’s just time to shine a beautiful light on a population of our society that gives us strength and wisdom,” said professor and artist Rae Goodwin. “A grandparent doesn’t have to be kin. They don’t have to be someone who is biologically related to us. It could be an elder in our life – an older person- who gives us support, strength, wisdom.”
In the newly-curated workshops, paid for by a grant from the extension office, kids from across the region are invited to come up with superhero names for their grandparents or grandparent figures. The names come from characteristics they discuss about their heroes. They are then asked to draw pictures of their grandparents as those superheroes.
“A lot of people are raising their grandchildren and, so, art is one of those things that connects everybody,” said Extension Fine Arts Agent Kristy Porter.
Those involved said they think this is a nice way for children to recognize the impact grandparents have in their lives, and gives them a moment to reflect on the real identity of their caregivers, outside of the role they serve as a grandparent.
“Think about what their grandparents do. Not what they do or don’t do for them, what they do in their lives as an autonomous person,” said Goodwin.
Goodwin said the comic book panels come together as a sort of patchwork, which is just a glowing example of the culture and impact grandparents have.
“They’re both the fabric and the thread that hold it all together as a culture,” she said.
It was, however, about more than realizing who their grandparent figures truly are. The program is also a bridge-builder for the UK Fine Arts program as students are challenged to discover their own identity in the world of art.
“Anytime you can touch the art, you can bring more awareness to your life with the arts,” said State Specialist for Extension Fine Arts Stephanie Richards. “And some people may want to follow a career in art, some people may just know that having the arts in their life makes their life better.”
The program doubles as a recruitment tool for the school, offering connections for the students who may not otherwise have access to the discussion about art as a career or side hustle.
“To give them role models for what it’s like,” said Richards. “We’re bridging that communication and education gap.”
The program provided interested students with the information to follow up in future discussions and potential tours of the college, allowing them to be immersed in the world of fine arts education.
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