Creamery Hill Racers: Rural Community Art Education in Action

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Trent Benesh, a high school art educator from Iowa and graduate student I’m working with at the University of Florida, renewed a tradition in his community last weekend as part of his capstone project. “Creamery Hill Racers” was designed to explore questions about how community-based art education, so often heard about in urban contexts, might play out in a rural setting. But racers also points to trends in contemporary art and design education including DIY/Maker culture and devotees of Caine’s Arcade and the Cardboard Challenge.

Playing cheerleader from afar on this endeavor has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my career as an art educator. Trent is one of those rare, highly self-directed students who make my job easy, giving me space to converse with them as peers. I loved hearing about his appearances at city council meetings, conversations with local business owners who served as sponsors for the project, experiments with his high school students, and local response to the final event. I wanted to be there to see the cars race down the hill. I wanted to smell the crisp autumn air. I wanted to be part of the multi-generational exchange of memories and new ideas.

I’m not going to take the wind from Trent’s sails by revealing his findings, but let’s just say the event was embraced by the community and a 2nd annual event next fall seems like all but a foregone conclusion. If folks can wait that long.

Check out Trent’s blog for field notes, photos, and reach day videos. If you like what you see, look for an event near you this Saturday (October 11, 2014) as part of the Imagination Foundations Global Day of Play. Last year we were at the Columbus Museum of Art participating in Oliver Herring’s TASK. Bummed we had to miss it this year.

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