Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District News Article

RoxArts To Display Student Artwork "Together We R.I.S.E."

June 28, 2022 -- This spring, elementary students across the district had an opportunity to paint self-portraits under the guidance of professional artist (and mom of Heights alumni) Debbie Apple-Presser, in a project titled “Together We Rise.” The project, which was funded by RoxArts, was designed to show how despite all students have been through over the past two years, they’ve come out even stronger.

But the children couldn’t use any of the colors traditionally associated with skin tone, as there was no brown or tan or black or white paint available to them. Instead, they used red and blue and green and purple to express their inner selves, their feelings and identities that go far beyond race or skin tone. 

“It was really an SEL project,” said RoxArts board member Andrea C. Turner, referring to the social-emotional learning that is so common in our schools. In fact, this project perfectly complements the color-coded Zones of Regulation adopted by Boulevard. 

Ms. Presser used a pre-recorded video to lay out the project with every class in kindergarten through grade 5 in all seven district elementary schools. Students then discussed what emotions or characteristics different colors could represent with their teachers and classmates before moving to their art classes to create the actual portraits. 

“The portraits are so revealing,” said Ms. Apple-Presser. “They’re very telling about who each child is.” She said the colors chosen and how they’re laid out across the children’s faces really reveal who they are and what they care about. “I can tell that this one is quiet and likes to read, while that one may go through three different moods every day.” 

RoxArts is working hard to display the more than two thousand final portraits throughout the community for the public to enjoy. The first installation was at Appletree Books in the Cedar Fairmount neighborhood while the Main Library on Lee Road is currently showing hundreds of portraits in the exhibition space near Dobama Theater.

Next up will be empty storefronts on Coventry Road, which will soon be lined with portraits. Ms. Turner reminds students and their families not to be disappointed if their portrait has yet to be displayed. The pictures are being chosen randomly, not based on artistic ability, and the project coordinators are working to secure enough public spaces to display them all.

RoxArts is also in the process of changing its name to more accurately reflect the work it does funding arts education and enrichment across the district. “We want schools and teachers to know they’re eligible for equal amounts of funding,” said Ms. Turner, who expects a new name to be announced in the late summer or early fall. “We are adamant about funding across Tiger Nation.”
Together We R.I.S.E. Student Art Display

Print This Article
View text-based website