Social and Emotional Learning Integral to Studio NYC Art Experiences

Recognizing the intrinsic value of social-emotional learning (SEL) to art experiences, Studio NYC is facilitating our Artist Instructors’ professional development through a series of workshops on SEL. The workshops provide insights and suggestions for creating visual art lessons that support students’ social and emotional skills and promote their well-being.

Studio NYC Artist Instructor Toto Feldman said, “It is such a fantastic development that we are beginning to commit to the whole child in public education. Across the country, K-12 schools are implementing curriculum that help young people develop social and emotional skills in a positive and proactive way. Artists and art educators have a vital role to play in this movement. When taught in a sensitive and inclusive way, art is uniquely flexible. It meets each student where they are and offers a meaningful and personal way to stretch and grow their skills, self-confidence, and self-awareness.”

Studio NYC Artist Instructor Damali Miller with pre-K students at Glenwood Head Start, Brooklyn. Photo: Mindy Best.

Studio NYC Artist Instructor Damali Miller with pre-K students at Glenwood Head Start, Brooklyn. Photo: Mindy Best.

Studio NYC’s workshops are particularly relevant now given the social and emotional challenges students are facing as a result of the pandemic. Saul Chernick, Studio NYC’s Director of Professional Development, said, “Working in the arts helps children understand and express emotion, build confidence, and self-regulate. At the same time, these skills are necessary for the children to be in the frame of mind to create art.”

The SEL workshops have been facilitated by Maurice J. Elias, PhD, Rutgers University professor of psychology, and Artist Instructor Toto Feldman. Dr. Elias commented, “Social-emotional competencies—SEL skills—are essential for success in the arts and therefore must be an integral part of arts education. It is hard to imagine students creating, presenting, performing, reviewing, responding to, and communicating about the arts in the absence of empathy, perspective taking, a sophisticated knowledge of emotions, and the emotion regulation, problem-solving and relationship skills needed to do the work that artists must do.”

Social-emotional learning supports students’ capacities to learn, communicate, and create. Susan Conte, Studio NYC Artist Instructor who participated in the SEL workshop series, commented, “It has been very rewarding to see how social-emotional learning has fostered enormous personal growth in my young students. The workshop gave me practical strategies on how to establish a ‘brave space’ in my studio classroom through cultivating a class culture where risk-taking is encouraged and students not only feel safe but excited to express their personal challenges and discoveries with one another.”

Studio NYC will continue to offer SEL-focused workshops as part of professional development for Artist Instructors. We are exploring new ways to support the development of children’s social and emotional competencies as they engage in creative discovery and artmaking.

Studio NYC Artist Instructor Aneta Wegrzyn at PS 219 Brooklyn. Photo: Mindy Best.

Artist Instructor Aneta Wegrzyn at PS 219 in Brooklyn. Photo: Mindy Best.