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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
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Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm
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Faulconer Outreach Program brings together kids, art

While walking down Park Street on a sunny afternoon, one might find oneself blinded by a glitter-covered truck. Yes, disco is still dead­—it is Tilly Woodward.

On Wednesday, April 21, Woodward, Curator of Academic and Public Outreach at the Faulconer Gallery, walks into the Galaxy Youth Center before any of the children have arrived. She is carrying a 10-foot tube of partially papier-mâché chicken wire.

“It’s for a [Drake] Library summer reading program, and their summer reading theme is ‘Make a Splash,’ so the idea is to make a giant sea serpent that will be part of their program,” Woodward said.

Since coming to Grinnell in the fall 2007, Woodward has been all around the Grinnell area, bringing art into the lives of children. Throughout every month Woodward travels once to the Galaxy Youth Center, the Davis Elementary STARS after-school program, the Arts Council after-school program, the Mayflower Community Center and other one-time events. Woodward knows that in order to create a strong relationship between two separate communities, sometimes one of those parties has to make the first step.

“I think it is really important that if you want people to come to your place, you have to go to their place and to meet their needs as well,” Woodward said. “In my position as outreach curator one of the goals is to get people from the community to the Faulconer Gallery and providing services in arts education and helping to strengthen existing programs is a really good goal.”

Woodward’s visits to different children’s centers are always welcome, with the whole experience summed up with one word by all who participate: “Fun!”

The only complaint about Woodward regarded the frequency with which she comes, “It feels like she only comes once a year,” said one 5th grader.

When she does go, her efforts pay off greatly, as the Faulconer Gallery now hosts events especially for members from the Grinnell community.

“Once we started doing this kind of partner outreach activities, now for instance, this summer Galaxy and Davis program are scheduling a number of activities that will go on in the Gallery,” Woodward said. “I think it’s been effective in getting people to feel comfortable”

Grinnell is not the first place where Woodward has established a strong art presence. Before coming to Grinnell she was the founding director of the Pella Community Art Center, in Pella, IA a program that served 17,000 individuals annually. Additionally, she taught Art Education and ran the gallery at Central College in Pella.

Director of the Galaxy Youth Center, Shannon McNaul, believes that without Woodward, her center’s arts and crafts activities would be much less enriching.

“She has always worked with kids in every community,” McNaul said. “I’ll give Tilly all the credit because she is the mastermind behind all of this.”

McNaul has noticed a special talent of Woodward’s that may just be the reason for all of her success.

“Tilly has been able to get kids who we can’t get engaged in things, McNaul said. ”You’ll get your hardest-core kid down here and all the sudden he is making a pirate outfit.”

Due to her amiable nature, Woodward has been infamous among the Grinnell youth, even earning a nickname.

“[The kids] love Tilly, everybody loves her, said Woodward’s Intern Caitlin Deutsch ’12. “At middle school she doesn’t do outreach there, but they still know her as Glitter Truck Lady. Everybody knows who she is and they are excited about the College bringing outreach activities.”

Now that school is winding down, McNaul is gearing up for a busy summer that will end with a showing of all of the kids’ work in the Faulconer Gallery.

“[The kids] get to bring out their mothers, their fathers, their grandparents, their friends, their aunts and uncles,” McNaul said. “It is an awesome time to get the community to see what Tilly does and to get our kids involved and to get them to have an appreciation for art and to see that art isn’t something that just hangs on a wall.”

It is clear Woodward’s efforts have made a huge difference in the past three years. Considering the U.S. is a nation where arts education is continually the first curriculum eliminated due to budget cuts, it is great to see Grinell College sharing its resources with the surrounding community. McNaul and her kids are very thankful.

“Working with the College, especially with Tilly, it is such a great experience for the community,” McNaul said. “Everybody should see what Tilly does with kids. She’s just amazing.”

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