Bringing girls together with art
Bending slightly to talk to a beaming third-grade girl, Kim Bacon encouraged her student to lose herself in her artwork.
The meticulous tree created from the young girl’s hands had perfectly straight branches and limbs. Trees aren’t all straight lines, Bacon told the girl. They bend and stretch as they grow.
“I know you’re a perfectionist,” Bacon said to the girl, again encouraging her to explore her inner artist.
Most Mondays, you’ll find nearly every third- and fourth-grade girl at George Elementary School spending a portion of their lunch hour with Bacon, who for three years has volunteered to lead the girls art club at the school.
This past Monday, students used blue tape to create a tree on paper. Later, they will use watercolors to paint over the tree, adding salt to the paint to give it texture. Eventually, students will paint the trees in the four seasons.
“Each one will be beautiful,” Bacon said with confidence.
The close-knit group started as a girls club. The school was looking for a way to teach the girls some life skills, such as how to support one another and value their differences. Important skills to have before heading off to junior high, Bacon said.
“They are all very good at helping each other and supporting each other,” she said.
Bacon, a professional artist who has been trained in many areas of art over the years, was working as a substitute para-educator at George Elementary School when she learned of the girls club and saw an opportunity to share her passion with the girls. She now volunteers to lead the group.
The school day doesn’t leave much time for art these days, which is a shame for those students who may struggle academically but use art as an outlet, said Bacon, who eventually would like to start an afterschool art club in both George and Quincy.
“Art is my passion and that’s what I can contribute,” she said.
On Monday, more than two dozen children gathered for the art club. Joining the girls that day for the first time were six boys. Several boys who especially enjoy art had been asking to join the group, Bacon said.
Alondra Perez, third grade, said she was fine with the boys joining in.
“Because there’s more people,” she said.
“They’re getting time to do fun stuff with the girls,” added Dorismar Ochoa, third grade.
One group of giggling third-graders sitting together rattled off several of their favorite projects this year. The group has decorated cookies, done some scrapbooking, made melted crayon art and played with salt dough.
What do the girls like best about the club?
“We get to spend time with Mrs. Bacon doing art,” Alondra Perez said.
“And talk to your friends,” Guererro said.
George Principal Colleen Frerks described Bacon as “fun,” “creative” and “caring.” The girls in the club adore her, Frerks said.
“She just has a heart for the students,” Frerks said. “She has a lot of enthusiasm for experiencing the world through a visual sense and for encouraging the students.”
The girls also have taught her something, said Bacon, who now works at the school full time.
“They are teaching me to stop and be a kid and to keep it simple,” she said. “That’s a huge lesson.”
— By Jill FitzSimmons, firstname.lastname@example.org