Last Thursday evening, a constant stream of family, friends, and community members filed into ARTspace to attend the opening of the “Joy of Art Soup” exhibit featuring artwork from the Life Skills students at San Benito High School who are participating in the Life Skills Arts Program.
Ranging in age from 18 to 22 years old, the Life Skills students have “severe cognitive and developmental delays” and their “curriculum emphasizes community-based instruction, vocational education, functional academics, social, domestic, and independent living,” according to the high school’s website.
The Life Skills Arts Program is one of several arts education initiatives established by the San Benito County Arts Council.
Retired SBHS art teacher and current arts council board member, Louise Roy, volunteers her time every Tuesday morning to teach the art class at ARTspace.
She said she was humbled by the Thursday’s turnout.
“I am overwhelmed to see the the crowd that came out to support the kids. It’s more than I expected,” she said while holding back tears.
SBHS Life Skills teacher, Ann Vasquez, echoed similar sentiments.
“I’m so please to see our students, their families, and the support of our community members, especially those from the high school,” she said.
Vasquez also explained the impact that the arts program has had on her students.
“It’s imparted a huge growth not only in art, but in their concentration and independence,” she said.
Life Skills student, Adam Bell, served as this reporter’s guide through the exhibit.
Outgoing and very personable, Bell radiated with pride, especially when pointing out the work of his classmates.
“I love my Life Skills classmates,” he said, adding “And it’s amazing watching Ms. Roy teach the class. It makes me feel good.”
When stopping at his watercolor painting, he said, “And look at me. I’m an artist now, thanks to Ms. Roy.”
The “Joy of Art Soup” art exhibition runs through Friday, Feb. 24 at ARTspace, located at 240 Fifth St. in downtown Hollister.