Art For All: CAC’s inclusive field trip program serves students with disabilities

Published 11:23 am Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Community Arts Center

During a recent field trip to the Community Arts Center, the topic of conversation with a group of middle school students shifted away from colors and texture to math. Counting, specifically. Members of Katie Newton’s class used an abstract piece of artwork by Lexington artist Marco Logsdon as an opportunity to practice counting. How many circles were there? The class counted carefully aloud, first by ones and then by fives, celebrating with high-five and fist-bumps when they arrived at the correct answer.

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It may seem like unusual content for an arts field trip but Newton, a special education teacher at Bate Middle School, was thrilled with the opportunity for her students to make connections between the art on the wall and the lessons she teaches in her classroom.

 “We’ve been practicing counting by fives in class this week,” says Newton. “This exhibit is also great for vocabulary lessons, too. We have been talking about words like ‘human’ and ‘pasture’ in class and seeing those images in the artwork reinforced that lesson.”

During the 2016-2017 school year, the Community Arts Center is facilitating free field trips for students with disabilities via a contract with the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.

“We are thrilled to be able to deliver this program under the Kennedy Center’s Museum Access for Kids Program,” says Arts Center Executive Director Mary Beth Touchstone. The VSA Museum Access for Kids Program fosters the engagement of students with disabilities, pre-kindergarten through grade 12, in the arts and culture of their community by providing opportunities to learn through, participate in, attend, and enjoy accessible arts-based events and activities.

Through the VSA contract, the Arts Center is facilitating inclusive field trips for students with disabilities with a goal of serving up to 200 students from the Danville Independent Schools, Boyle County Schools and Kentucky School for the Deaf.

“We started out by focusing on the districts with whom we already had strong working relationships, but the contract covers any student with disabilities so we’d also love to involve educators in surrounding counties,” says Education Director Maggie Shapiro Haskett.

Boyle County High School teacher Tina Henry has brought her students to the Arts Center three times so far this school year, for Horizon: Contemporary Landscape in the fall, Trees of the Season in December, and New Year New Art in January.

“It’s so important for my students to have opportunities to engage with their broader community,” says Henry. “They love to visit the Arts Center and ask me all the time when we are going next.”

Newton echoes that sentiment. She says, “Visiting the Arts Center exposes my students to concepts — and people — that they haven’t seen before. They are so used to me being their teacher and it is really good for them to get instruction from someone else. I feel like these field trips are helping to create well-rounded students who know the value of art.”

The Arts Center’s field trip curriculum aligns to state and national curricular standards in the arts and includes opportunities for students to view professional artwork, respond to that artwork, and create their own original art. During the “gallery walk” portion of every field trip, Arts Center Creative Director Brandon Long introduces students to the fundamental artistic concepts showcased in the exhibit and he engages students in conversation about specific pieces and techniques. Students then undertake a hands-on arts activity under the direction of Haskett. During the contemporary landscape exhibit, students created aerial landscapes. During the current New Year New Art exhibit, students are creating ceramic tile self-portraits to align with the exhibit’s focus on creative self-identity.

“The goal of all our hands-on activities is to help the students build bridges between the art they see and their own personal experiences,” explains Haskett. Projects selected for the field trips can be adapted for a wide range of physical and cognitive abilities and the Arts Center engages a team of dedicated field trip volunteers to support students in their art-making.

Special education teachers interested in scheduling a free field trip for their students should contact Haskett at (859) 236-4054 or email More information about the Arts Center’s field trip program is available online at

About the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts:

As the nation’s performing arts center, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has a goal of providing powerful, culturally relevant educational experiences for all. To this end, the Kennedy Center’s VSA programs extend across the United States to address a variety of disability-related arts education initiatives in the literary, media, visual, and performing arts (theater, dance, music).


New Year New Art – the newest art by 50 of the region’s top artists, through Feb. 25; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, suggested donation of $5


POP Kids: Hot Cocoa Mugs, 1-2:30 p.m. Feb. 25, $20/person; Drop your child off for a paint-your-own pottery workshop! Finished mugs will be fired in the Arts Center kiln and be ready for pickup approximately 10 days after the event. Open to children in grades K-12. Register online.

Starry Night Studio: Rosie Red Apple, 7-9 p.m. Feb. 29, $28; Paint a juicy red apple that looks good enough to eat (or at least to hang on your wall!) This is a very easy painting, so if you’ve never picked up a paint brush, our instructor will guide you from blank canvas to completed masterpiece in just two hours – no experience required! Register online.

Munchkin & Me Art Classes: 10 a.m. Mondays; A free visual arts class for children ages 18 months–4 years, with an adult caregiver. Experiment with new techniques and new mediums each week. No preregistration required.

Beginner Ballroom Dance, 6 p.m. Thursdays, $10/door; No preregistration required and you don’t need a partner.


Homeschool Youth Ceramics

Mondays, 9:30am to 11:30 a.m., March 13 -May 1; $50

In this introductory class, students will work with clay in a fun, easy-going, imagination-liberating space. Beginning with the design process, students will explore the sculptural, architectural and figurative possibilities that clay offers. Register online at

Mini Masters (K-5th)

Mondays, 4-5 p.m. (K-2nd), 5:15pm to 6:15 p.m. (3rd-5th),  March 13-May 1;  $80

Students will discover a new famous artist every week and create artwork inspired by the masters. Register online.

Gamecraft: The Art of Video Games (4th-8th)

4-5:30 p.m. Tuesdays,  March 14-May 2; $80

In this seven-week mixed-media class, students will create video game-inspired artwork using a wide variety of visual arts techniques. Please note that there is NO computer programming in this class!  Register online.

Homeschool Youth Drawing (K-8th)

1-3 p.m. Thursdays,March 16-May 4; $50

This fun and fast-paced class will teach students strategies for drawing people, faces, landscapes, and much more while introducing some of the fundamental concepts of visual art. Register online.

Pottery for Kids (K-8th)

10 a.m.-noon Saturdays, March 18-May 6; $75

In this introductory class, students will work with clay in a fun, easy-going, imagination-liberating space. Beginning with the design process, students will explore the sculptural, architectural and figurative possibilities that clay offers. Register online.

Mudslingers: Family Ceramics (K-8th with an adult)

1-3 p.m. Saturdays, March 18-May 6; $150

A new pottery class that kids and their grownups can take together! $150 registration fee is for one adult/child pair. Register online.

Printmaking 101 (Teens and Adults)

7-9 p.m. Wednesdays, March 15-May 3; $105

This beginner-level class introduces students to the basics of printmaking, including image selection, block preparation and carving, and image transfer techniques. No drawing experience is required! Register online.

Wheel-Thrown Pottery (Teens and Adults)

6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, March 15-May 3; $145

7-9 p.m. Thursdays, March 16 -May 4; $145

2-4 p.m. Sundays, March 19-May 7; $145

Students will learn the basics of creating bowls, vases, mugs and more using an electric potter’s wheel. Pick the section that works best for your schedule! Each class is limited to 8 potters, providing lots of one-on-one guidance from the instructor. Register online at

Ceramic Sculpture (Teens and Adults)

7-9 p.m. Thursdays, March 16-May 4; $145