Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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May 07, 2020

Caring through Art

By Michelle Harrell

“An artist can show things that other people are terrified of expressing.”

― Louise Bourgeois, Destruction of the Father/Reconstruction of the Father: Writings and Interviews, 1923–1997

Making art can be a powerful tool for helping cope with the trauma of their lives. In last spring’s Art Education journal, researchers encouraged an approach to art education that responds to the needs of students and builds a climate of care (Broome, Bobick, Ruggiero, & Jesup 2019). In an upcoming blog post, we’ll highlight an on-going project with one art teacher whose students are documenting their COVID-19 experiences through an Altered Book project. In addition to making art, we can also use art as a catalyst for discussion or contemplation.

As museums let go of our pre-COVID-19 identities, we remain relevant to those we serve by addressing emotional needs (Andrea Jones- Peak Experience Labs 2020). We can acknowledge we are living through difficult times and support those who are grieving, seeking inspiration, or simply need a good laugh. Over the past year, my colleague Bryanne Senor developed The Mindful Museum programming to include Art Inspired Meditation, Yoga in the Galleries, and even a Crystal Singing Bowl Experience. Bryanne developed a series of videos for our NCMA Recommends series that support mindfulness such as Grounding and Focus Guided Meditation with Gyre and Guided Observation of Monet's The Cliff, Étretat, Sunset. With Bryanne and our team’s support, I developed a Mindful Moment in Art using the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, coping strategy to discuss a work of art. Watch the video below to listen to how I model this strategy.


The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) Core SEL Competencies has served as a valuable framework in developing resources. We have referred to this framework in developing prompts for our ongoing #JournalCare 30 Day Challenge. Learn how you can participate in this challenge here.

- MH


Broome, J. L., Bobick, B., Ruggiero, A., & Jesup, C. (2019). Responding to the Challenge to Care: Suggestions for Art Education Curricula. Art Education, 72(2), 36–41. doi: 10.1080/00043125.2019.1559604

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