The Art Experience brings community art lab to WHRC Elementary School

The Art Experience (TAE) is providing their Community Art Lab (CAL) program to 650 students of Pontiac’s largest elementary school, the Dana Whitmer Human Resource Center (WHRC). Community artist, educator and storyteller, Vickie Brent-Touray of The Yaktown Poets, is teaching the students about storytelling as an art form. Her time at WHRC is supported by TAE, and made possible through the organization’s fundraising and individual donations to The Art Experience youth programs.

The CAL program was developed to help remove obstacles to the arts that face many of the youth in our community. Through partnerships with schools, human service agencies and community organizations, TAE places tools in youths’ hands that develop creative thinking skills and their ability to work as a group, all while expressing and coming to understand their individual identity and the world around them. This semester students are focusing on community–at home, in their neighborhood, town, country and world. They’re given a chance to tell their story through images and group sharing.
Artist Brent-Touray says, “I truly enjoy working with the Community Art Lab program. With the adoption of popular curriculums like Common Core, appreciation for literature as an art form has become a thing of the past, and everyone knows how long public school systems have been cutting art programs. As a certified language arts teacher, that is quite bothersome. Working with this program however, gives me the opportunity to revisit the beauty of poetry and storytelling with fresh and new insight. I get a chance to share my favorite pieces of literature, while infusing them with art. For an eager educator, and an art thirsty group of kids, it just doesn’t get better than that!”
Brent-Touray has introduced the children to the popular African tale, Bringing the Rain to the Kapiti Plain, by Verna Aardema. Students place themselves in the role of the story’s protagonist Ki-pat, who shoots a feather into a stormcloud saving the animals and fields from drought. Students imagine ways they can make a difference in their community. What would your feather be? What changes might you bring about in your home? Community? World? What would you celebrate? These ideas are then expressed in the form of creative writing, drawings, paintings, and a community collage to be on display in their school.
Piloted in 2013 at Pontiac High School and Pontiac’s Academy for Excellence, over 900 students have been impacted by the CAL program. Now, strategically in Pontiac’s largest elementary school, TAE is hoping to foster a long lasting appreciation and demand for the arts in our community.
The Art Experience is a non-profit community art studio promoting the arts as an effective tool for educating, communicating and celebrating. Art matters.To find out more about Community Art Lab and how you can help, visit our website, find us on Facebook, call the studio at 248-706-3304, or email