The Art Is Life canvas painted by Art Road students served as a spectacular backdrop for an evening of celebration at the Experiencing Perspectives art exhibition at Mercedes-Benz Financial Services on October 29.
Art Road students had masterful artwork describing what art class means to them, such as Art Is Life, Art Is Everything and Art Is Forever exhibited at the reception, serving as testimony to Mercedes-Benz Financial Services' commitment to the arts and to supporting young Detroit artists.
Art Road's mission is that children throughout southeastern Michigan will have access to art instruction. The organization is currently serving more than 1,200 students throughout the entire school year at three Detroit Public Schools: Edison Elementary School, Charles Wright Academy of Arts & Science, and Spain Elementary School.
"We support organizations like Art Road because we feel that art education is an integral part of a well-rounded education curriculum and is critical to developing the creators and innovators of the future," says Greg Ruvolo, community relations manager for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. "While Mercedes-Benz Financial Services has supported art education for quite some time, we are pleased to see an overall renewed interest in art as a vital aspect of a child's development and hope this will help organizations like Art Road continue to grow."
While the October 29 art exhibition was for employees and an additional 250 guests, Art Road students will take a field trip to Mercedes-Benz Financial Services on November 20 to see their work on display, watch an education video about famous artists, and talk about their work. Students will receive personal recognition certificates for their work and have lunch.
Experiencing Perspectives is a celebration of the immense value of art in the workplace. Along with its partnership with Art Road, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services also collaborates with Cranbrook Academy of Art to display cutting-edge pieces from the academy's graduate art program in the building's lobby, hallways and conference rooms. Art Road student work was prominently displayed in the company cafeteria.
"It is important for our company to display the work of Art Road students so that our employees and visitors can see the purpose and outcome of our partnerships with organizations like Art Road," says Leila Matta, manager of brand identity, design and art programs for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. "In particular, we chose to display the Art Road students' artwork during our annual Experiencing Perspectives fall art event so we can collectively celebrate all of our art education partnerships."
Kimberly Holback, an Art Road instructor, attended the event and was pleased to see student artwork on the walls. She has worked with Art Road for four years and has seen growth in students who have been involved with the program for multiple years. She says that they are bolder and just step into projects. They are not only able to observe artistic attributes of art pieces, such as color, detail and surface aspects, but can often go further and intuitively connect with what the artist is trying to say.
It's this kind of higher-level learning and critical thinking that makes art such an important part of a well-rounded education. In fact, children that participate in arts programs have also shown an increased love of learning, and they develop a greater ability to be prepared for the workplace of tomorrow.
"I am most proud of the days where we inspire creativity - when we're able to spark that inspiration. It's very much process based, not product based," says Holback.
YuTung Hou, a Cranbrook Academy of Art graduate student and Art Road instructor appreciates how art helps self-esteem. "Students can be reserved and hold back from things they don't understand, but art helps them get involved in things that they're not sure about," says Hou. "It helps them form their identity, be confident with themselves. Not just in art, but in life."
The mindset at Mercedes-Benz Financial Services recognizes that alliance between art and life - and especially between art and the workplace. Peter Zieringer, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, noted this connection at the Experiencing Perspectives reception: "These beautiful pieces of art in this building create a certain dynamic for employees. They're thought provoking - they help us look beyond the obvious."
For Art Road students, looking beyond the obvious, solving problems and being inspired are all examples of the way art invigorates the brain.
Matta agrees that art education is an important part of fostering creativity and innovative thinking in young people as they learn and grow. That's why supporting organizations like Art Road - through volunteering in art classes, sponsoring field trips, and committing dollars to keep art in the classroom - is important to the company.
"We have partnered with Art Road for more than eight years, and during that time we have been proud to be a part of its growth and development," says Matta. "We believe in Art Road's mission and want to continue to help with the important work it does."
Art Road Nonprofit provides special arts activity classes, including supplies and an instructor. The classes are single or multi-day sessions that introduce children to the work of artists, provide historical perspective, and bring the entire experience into focus with hands-on creative arts projects such as painting, drawing, sculpture or mixed media.