Who: Julz Suder, an elementary school art teacher in a low-income area in Richmond, Virginia.
What: The library card page from an old children's art book that Julz found while thrifting. Julz had it floated and framed in our Gallery Frame in Natural.
From Julz: I am constantly collecting items for my students to use for their art projects—plastic milk jugs for mask making, used bubble wrap for printing, toilet paper rolls for sculptures. Nothing gets thrown away. I have storage containers full of bottle caps, crayons, and empty tissue boxes all for my students to use so they can be creative and not have to spend a penny on it. I save the funds we are given for things that I can't find for free, like books.
Recently, our school librarian called me into the library to let me know she had some books she had to get rid of (periodically the librarians need to "discard" the books that are not being checked out regularly). The books are supposed to be thrown out, but the librarian is an amazing woman and together we relocate the books into my classroom library. The books tend to be out of date, so I am always searching yard sales and thrift stores for newer books for my classroom.
The piece that I had framed was the first page of a book that I found when I was thrifting. It had been "discarded," evident from the two big red stamps on it from a school in the nearby area. The title of the book is The Meaning and Wonder of Art. The library card pocket had been neatly centered on an inside page. It reads:
An introduction to the wonders and pleasures of art for children. The author shows that although style and techniques vary, painters and sculptors through the ages have selected their subjects and responded to beauty in similar fashion.
I opened the book, read this page, and tore it out without a thought. There it was—the thing I fight for each day. It's why I dig around in my neighbors recycling bins, write grants, and save every bit of paper so my students can dream and wonder and make art. It was a reminder that I needed to see. The "wonders and pleasures of art for children" will not be "discarded."
This framed piece of "trash" now hangs where I can see it every day. It reminds me why it is important to act as an advocate for my students and art education every chance I can.