The ARC Vision~
At the core of this work is our belief that creative play, creative exploration, creative expression, and creative connection, in fact, playing with art in any form, has the power to transform and heal. Especially in these times when our resources and mobility are more limited. Innumerable scientific studies of arts education and also play-based programs have shown that children involved in regular creative practices and those who are given ample free play time have improved levels of social and emotional intelligence and general life skills. Those of us who work in the field of Early Childhood Education see this as a given.
Art, in fact also Creativity in its simplest form, is engaging in materials and ideas to create a new form, to express one’s self, and or to communicate to others. This is the foundation to understanding the power of Art as a creative engagement that gives one a voice and a means to connect. Creativity and "creative play" (all play being creative...), thru any avenue, allows us to explore what we are curious about, what we are questioning, what we feel, what we know and don’t know, and what holds meaning for us. These mindful processes help us to know ourselves as we turn inward, and then connect us with others as our sharing (of the space or objects) becomes an invitation to connect. When we engage with intention and mindfulness, we transform what was and create a new way to see and be together.
The inspiring methodologies of the Reggio Emilia approach affirm that children have 100 languages to express themselves. When we offer up open-ended invitations to engage and play with materials and ideas in a creative project, we are inviting children to engage in an active process of learning, both about objects and ideas, as well as about themselves and others, with whom they will share their works. And when we can recognize and affirm children’s artistic “language” as not only unique, but as valid and valuable, this is when expression can become connection. This is where the social-emotional and personal growth takes place. This is where art builds community.
Founder and Director, Eliza Duenow
Eliza was born into a family of artists and seekers and spent her life exploring these two aspects of herself through what she came to call "creative consciousing." Her work with children evolved from arts play and cultural studies, to nature explorations and social emotional experiments, and then back to creative play, often now integrated with more materials and ideas, but sometimes with a lot less. She is a champion of connection-based “process over product”, and truly loves her play and making with children.
Eliza worked for a decade in Chicago’s arts education arena, serving as Director of Education at Hyde Park Art Center, the city's longest standing contemporary arts institution. At HPAC, Eliza managed studio and community outreach programs, annually serving over 2,000 children. She also led arts integrated professional development for Chicago Public School teachers and led the SSAP (South Side Arts Partnership). Additionally, she worked with Chicago’s Center for Arts Policy, organizing the Youth Development Through the Arts conference. She has also spoken at the Illinois Arts Education Association and the Art Institute’s Art Education Masters Program.
In the last ten years Eliza continued this work in Israel, founding The ARC to bring together artists and community audiences to advance creative work with children. As Director and lead teacher, Eliza runs four sites as well as mobile initiatives for ages 3-9, hosting Creative Expressions afternoons, Creative Explorers days, and Tel Aviv’s largest English language holiday Creativity Camps and the Creative Discovery Field Trips. Eliza also supported the founding of Vertigo Dance Company’s Eco Arts Village and co-founded and led five years of the 300 family-strong Halloween festivities in Tel Aviv(!)
Eliza is an artist, dancer, writer, producer, certified yoga teacher, trauma-informed trained mindfulness practitioner, cultural dreamer, lover of cities and nature, serial collaborator, connector and community builder. She holds a Masters in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences focusing on Visual Culture Studies from the University of Chicago, and two Bachelors degrees in International Studies and Comparative Religious Studies from Trinity University (summa cum laude). She also holds her own two children, daily when she can catch them(!)