Last week marked the first of six weeks for A.W.E’s truck studio programming. Every weekday, a team of artists is dispatched to a different park from noon to 3 p.m.
While at the park, they park their truck or van on the grass and begin to build an outdoor studio. With a few tables, benches and a tarp on the ground, the teachers are ready for an eager line of small children whose parents are signing them in.
The programming consists of three art projects throughout the three hours. Terry Spears, a lead teacher who is teaching at Burnham Park this week, creates a different curricular around a theme everyday. When I went to visit his team onsite, his theme was storytelling.
Terry Spears and his team of teaching artists are teaching students about storytelling and puppet-making.
After reading the students stories and having them create small storybooks, Spears and his team taught students to make different types of puppets such as push, sock and stick puppets.
The Southside park brought out a small group of Black and Latino children to the outdoor studio. Characters from the Disney Pixar movie “Coco” and other popular characters like Cookie Monster were replicated into puppets by the kids. By the end of the day, they put on puppet shows for each other.
A nanny on break from her MPS teaching job over the summer brought the three children she was babysitting. “It’s hard to find something to keep their attention,” said Jamie, referring to three young girls ages two to six. “This does.”
Each week, four vans are sent to a different park. For a schedule of park locations and dates, visit A.W.E’s website here.
Artists Working in Education (A.W.E) is a nonprofit organization providing free art services for the Milwaukee Community. This summer they’re celebrating their twentieth year of their mobile truck art studios. Teachers and interns drive to different Milwaukee County Parks and teach free art lessons for kids ages four to 14. They walk away with a fun, artistic experience and a project to decorate their homes with.
Listen to the audio story below to take a ride in A.W.E’s truck studio.