Art in Transit – Arte en Tránsito

Above image: The El Otro Lado Bus panels were created in partnership with students from Charter School 37 and Santa Fe Art Institute. 2009

Spring is here and in El Otro Lado it’s the time of year we feel excited to share our learning with the community. After a yearlong exploration of identity, culture, belonging and place through story-based, arts-rich experiential curriculum, families and community are invited to celebrate and witness the student, parent, and teacher stories through their creative expressions.  There are often colorful self-portraits, poetry, paintings, sculptures and collages.

This year, 5th graders from Atalaya Elementary, 5th graders from Gonzales Community School, along with parents from Aspen Community School are installing artwork and stories inside the city busses. When we learn a different side of another’s story, we in turn may see ourselves in a new light and strengthen ties as a community. The impact of the El Otro Lado program reaches new depths when the wider community witnesses and honors the work and we invite you to ride the Santa Fe Trails May – August 2019.

Learn more about the impact of EOL from educators at the Aspen Community School:

As the school year comes to an end and we reflect on our parent group’s journey to the other side, we can see and feel the growth that has transformed each and every one of us as women, friends, and parents. Personally, Stephanie and I feel more connected to our school community, which grounds us. I am always surprised by the beauty of running and participating in groups and the magic that can occurs if one trusts the process. Learning to let go of expectations and the results has given us the courage to be present for ourselves and others and to be authentic. Surprisingly enough, the other parents have shared that by participating in El Otro Lado they have found their inner beauty and value: At first through the eyes of others and then through their own. The one activity that solidified this was the self-portrait. We shared laughter and tears as we each worked on our faces. Having the opportunity to change a facial feature, we chose instead to focus on what made each of us unique! We believe that hearing others affirm our self-worth helped us with acceptance. By finding the value and beauty in ourselves, we are better able to guide the children in our lives to find their self-worth and see the value in their stories.

Our parent group had already been meeting for some time before using the El Otro Lado guide, but we were having superficial conversations. Honestly, using the guide has taken us to infinity and beyond. Our relationships have deepened and we share and celebrate each other; imperfections and all! The process has helped us build a sense of community, and many of our parents have become an integral part of our school. They volunteer and are part of the decision making process that is moving our school forward and make it more accessible to other parents in the future. We have broken down the barrier between school staff and parents. In doing so, we’ve experienced the benefits of listening to each other and supporting each other to create a solid school community.

 Socorro Maldonado & Stephanie Walther
Aspen Community School