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“Every student should have access to art and art making.” A Q&A with Tacoma Art Museum educators

Outside the Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) at dusk.

The Tacoma Art Museum (TAM)’ s mission is to “transform our communities by sharing art that inspires broader perspectives and cultivates a compassionate future.”

TAM aligns with their mission for both young people and their families through after school and community-centered programs. A group of museum educators share their stories from the community and their passion for accessible art for all.

What can you tell us about your community and the youth who participate?

“During our first multigenerational library program, a grandmother and her two grandkids came in to learn about Bisa Butler’s work and Gee’s bends quilts. They were enamored with the way Bisa Butler made portraits by quilting and using fabric as a medium because they thought, at first glance, that Butler’s artwork was a painting. This family then dug through the scrap fabrics and made their own quilt collages that told stories of their lives and interests. The granddaughter left inspired to dig into her own sewing kit at home to continue her creativity.” – Vanessa Harriss

“I love that we can go out to the community to talk about art and share our love for creativity together.” – Meghan Crandall

“I want to reach the students who would not otherwise have art education, who are not exposed to the arts in their schools and neighborhoods. The Tacoma Public Schools have a diverse range of students, representing the city of Tacoma population. We focus on BIPOC artists, local and nationally-recognized, and endeavor to broaden the horizons of artists to children who can see themselves in these successful artists.” – Tina Moreschi

What beliefs inspire your work?

“Every student should have access to art and artmaking. I think after school programs are super important because sometimes being outside the classroom can foster even more learning and connection [especially] for our teens.” – Vanessa Harriss

“… I want to help inspire others and grow the Tacoma community to be more inclusive, while holding space in the present moment for each other.” – Meghan Crandall

“I want to reach all children, and expose them early to art and a career in the art world. As a child, I did not receive the advantages that I want to bring to our students and community, and for them to see them[selves] as vital and integral to the art world.” – Tina Moreschi

What’s something you always tell kids and/or families when they begin participating in your program?

“I think a lot of our families see the museum as an inaccessible place. But I always like to talk about how we can bring the museum to them through free programs at their local library or even coming into the classrooms. It’s exciting to see them feel comfortable speaking out knowing there’s no right or wrong answers when interpreting the art!” – Vanessa Harriss

“I give directions and tutorial sheets on how to make art projects in our many programs but I always tell people they don’t have to follow them. They are more what you call guidelines. You can use the materials to create what you enjoy. Question the rules, think for yourself, doing something a different way might be much more relaxing and fun.” – Meghan Crandall

“I always tell them there are no wrong answers with art.” – Tina Moreschi

What’s something you learned that you didn’t expect?

“Something I learned that I didn’t expect was the impact my representation as an educator of color has for our underrepresented students. They are seeing someone who looks like them in a leadership role and I think that can have a lasting impact. I know showing up for them matters.” – Vanessa Harriss

“Something I learned that I didn’t expect is how much representation matters and how much more it needs to be applied. I knew these concepts were very important long before I started working as a Museum Educator.” – Meghan Crandall

What do you want people to remember about your organization?

What I want people to remember about the Tacoma Art Museum is that we are here for them! Our museum should 100% reflect our community and support our community by bringing them programming, community events, and ample opportunities to visit! I always want our community to know that we use the feedback we receive to make our programming and events even better for them  and if there is ever something you notice or want to speak up about, please do! We always want to do better by our community.” – Vanessa Harriss

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