When thousands of teachers converged on the Arizona State Capitol in April, Paige Reesor was among them. Reesor took a unique approach to sharing her enthusiasm for the #RedforEd movement, setting up her easel, and painting the people protesting in her midst.
Now she’s one of four artists whose work is being featured in an exhibition called “#RedForEd: The Journey Toward Equity,” organized by Scottsdale Arts. It opens Saturday, September 15, at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.
#RedforEd organizers called for increased education spending, including more pay for teachers and K-12 staff, as well as school and classroom improvements. Arizona approved higher spending, follow several days of teacher walkouts and school closures, but the movement continues as supporters seek additional gains.
Recently, Scottsdale Arts put out the call for #RedforEd art, created by teachers who participated in the movement. “We were interested in the diversity of reasons for participating in the walkout,” says Natalie Marsh. She’s the director of Scottsdale arts education and outreach for Scottsdale Arts. “We have a close relationship to local schools, so we wanted teachers to have a chance to reflect on their experiences.”
But there’s another reason for having the exhibit, says Brittany Arnold, an arts education coordinator with Scottsdale Arts, and curator of this show. “We’re trying to inform our audience about what led to the movement happening,” Arnold says. To help with that, they’ll post artist statements and other text panels that elucidate the diverse reasons people chose to join the movement.
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Reesor will be showing a print from her painting completed at the Capitol, since she’s already sold the original. Vivian Spiegelman will be showing photographs of rally participants, and the exhibition will also include several signs teachers used while protesting. “We’re trying to show how the school walk outs were an agent for change,” Arnold says.
There’s even an interactive activity, with large word magnets people can arrange to make their own protest sign. Exhibit organizers hope visitors take selfies with their signs, then share them on social media. It’s just one more way show the power of art for addressing social issues.
“We like the ability art has as a platform for discussing things happening in society today,” Marsh says.
“#RedForEd: The Journey Toward Equity.” Saturday, September 15, to Saturday, November 17, at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 East Second Street, Scottsdale; 480-499-8587; scottsdaleperformingarts.org. Free admission.