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Ohio Northern Art Education Alumna organizes “I Matter” program for community

June—Art can be a transformative experience and communicate important social issues in our communities. For Ohio Northern University graduate, Anne Rickard (BA ’82) not only teaches her students the elements and principles of art, but also the positive impact art can create.

Her students, along with other art students at Lake Placid Central School in New York, took their art and boxes of chalk to the Olympic Oval to rally community support for a drug and alcohol awareness program in June.

About 130 students from grades 6 through 12 participated in the temporary art project, drawing self-portraits and other drawings to raise awareness for an upcoming poster campaign of self portraits drawn by students titled “I Matter.”

The Lake Placid/Wilmington Connecting Youth & Communities Coalition developed the campaign to encourage communication between adults and students about destructive decisions.

“We wanted to mobilize the community to help prevent underage drinking,” said Anne. “Hopefully people can look at the environmental factors that influence these decisions.”

The Coalition is a non-profit organization formed to address teenage substance abuse in Essex County, New York. For the campaign, the coalition partnered with LPCS art teachers—Anne Rickard and Sandy Huber—and local artist Naj Wikoff to bring alcohol and drug abuse prevention to the community’s attention and to showcase the students’ talents.

Some students drew the Batman Symbol, graffiti style artwork, body outlines and their own version of a self-portrait on the cement, getting chalk-covered hands and knees.

Seventh-grade student Saylor Grady said her sidewalk self-portraits are a series of different characters she draws.

“They represent different parts of who I am,” Grady said, as she drew the final touches to the comic book characters from her own books.

“I Matter”
Three-hundred of the students’ posters have been made and were distributed throughout the Lake Placid area and in town centers in Wilmington and Keene.

The self-portraits theme “I Matter” and featured one of six tag lines: “Let’s Talk,” “Ask me what I am thinking,” “Let’s talk about alcohol,” “Kids want your time and attention,” and “Ask me about drugs, tobacco or alcohol.”

“All of the posters the students have made are unique,” said Anne. Some of them are abstract and psychological displays of who they are and others are more realistic. We want people to see these posters and encourage them to talk with their kids about drugs, alcohol and violence, not talk over them and say, ‘Don’t do this,’ ‘Don’t do that,’ but actually engage their kids because the kids want to talk about this.”

“Kids want to be heard, and they want to hear what their parents think about alcohol and other substances, and the choices they made, good and bad, growing up,” said Mary Dietrich, president of Lake Placid/Wilmington Connecting Youth & Communities Coalition.

Dietrich said the program is based on studies that have show a parent’s opinion really matter to their kids.

“The more quality time that parents spend with kids, the better their children will do in school and the more likely they will be to make good choices as they go through life,” Dietrich said.

By midday, the students had the white portion of the oval covered in multi-colored works of chalk art. Future plans include more art projects with the coalition including a mural to be put up in the Wilmington Tunnel with help from members of the Wilmington Youth Center.

Anne has taught art courses for the past 24 years in the Lake Placid school district. She teaches drawing, painting, advanced placement art drawing, studio in art and eighth grade art. This past year, she was honored by the New York State Art Teachers Association (NYSATA) as their 2008 Art Teacher of the Year. In 2007, Anne was honored as regional art teacher of the year and qualified for consideration as this year’s state teacher of the year honors.

Anne earned her bachelors degree from Ohio Northern University and then received her master’s degree from Plattsburgh State. Recently, she had an art educator’s fellowship with Maine College of Art in Portland to study drawing and painting. She’s also attended the School of Art Institute of Chicago and the Kansas City Art Institute.

Ohio Northern University’s quality, student-centered education distinctively combines nationally ranked sciences, arts and professional programs for more than 3,500 students in its five colleges: Arts & Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering, Pharmacy and Law.

Originally designated as the School of Fine Arts and later the College of Fine Arts, the art & design program was first established as an independent academic unit at Ohio Northern in 1878, largely as an outgrowth of course work in engineering and architectural drawing. Today, Ohio Northern offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts with concentrations in two-dimensional, three-dimensional and pre-art therapy. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education, AIGA: The Professional Association for Design, and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is recognized in the second and third editions of “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the best creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design or the University’s 2013–14 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.