SFAI continues to bring a creative element to the academic setting at De Vargas Middle School via ongoing multimedia units based in poetry, spoken word, the short story, and the graphic novel. Teaching artists collaborate with 7th grade Language Arts instructor Chris Slakey to increase students’ classroom engagement and academic achievement through creative expression. De Vargas is among the growing number of public schools that have limited access to the arts, and that do not meet “Annual Yearly Progress” standards with regard to student achievement.
In November 2013, SFAI was proud to host 60 students from De Vargas. In collaboration with the Santa Fe University of Art & Design, SFAI shepherded the students as they toured both the University campus and SFAI’s facilities. The majority of students had never set foot on a college campus before, nor had they come in contact with professional artists. Students were introduced to the concept of creative social practice and to the work of SFAI residents, as well as such renowned artists such as Dread Scott, Pedro Reyes, and Favianna Rodriguez. Students also discussed the concepts of race, identity, inclusion and exclusion, and their own hopes and fears regarding the future. Finally, students were recorded at the University’s Film School reading their own social issues poems on such topics as immigration, war, drug abuse, domestic violence, suicide, and bullying.