You Are Human: Behind the Scenes

For the last month and a half, we have been working on something a little out of the ordinary, but something oh so special: a collaboration with twenty-two 5th graders and one 5th grade teacher. This magical group of humans is Mrs. Lacksen's class at Lakeview Academy in Milledgeville, and together, we created a letterpress print with a single goal in mind: to raise $1,000 to give to a local non-profit called the Life Enrichment Center, a private nonprofit program for adults with intellectual disabilities living in and around Baldwin County.
We came into the classroom three times. On the first visit, Mrs. Lacksen and I presented our idea to the class. We talked about everyone's potential to impact the people around them. We encouraged them to think about the power of everyday heroes and that often those that never get the limelight are the one's making lasting impressions on those around them: teachers, grandparents, community helpers. We talked about art, what it means to be an artist, and the type of work we might create together. The kids worked individually, in small groups, and eventually as a whole class to come up with an uplifting expression for me to use as a springboard to design the print. The expression that was the favorite from their brainstorm was, "You are human. You will make mistakes, and that's ok!" They also selected the non-profit they wanted to donate the proceeds to (every cent will go to the Life Enrichment Center). 
Back at the studio, I used their ideas and sketches to create 4 different designs. I went into the class a few weeks later to “pitch” the 4 options to them. Luckily, there was an overwhelming favorite… no surprise it was the most colorful and my favorite too! I gathered their signatures and talked about what the next steps would be, and what we would be doing in the studio to bring it to life. 
On our final trip to the classroom, we got to reveal the finished print... to show all of them what their ideas had helped bring to life. We showed them the video that the incredible Mr. Jones filmed of us working on the print in the studio so that could see a little bit of what we did behind the scenes. And at the end of our visit, we handed out a print to every person in the classroom.
This experience changed me and gave me so much hope. These kids are powerful human beings. They are positive, highly supportive and respectful of each other in their classroom, which is extremely diverse. Mrs. Lacksen gives her all to nurture that environment and leads the way for her students. It was a beautiful thing to be a part of for just a few treasured moments. You can support the project by purchasing your own copy of the You Are Human print for $25. We intentionally priced it much lower than we would normally for that size letterpress print because we didn't want the cost to be prohibitive for anyone, however if $25 is more than you have to part with, you can also support it by just sharing it with others in your life. Thank you!

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